For a Fast Dinner Idea, Put One of These in your Pantry

Wow! You all have been busy. I clicked on ‘blogs I follow’ and nearly fainted away. I’ve been off making books and reading books ( about 4 in the last two weeks), going to the physical therapist and the chiropractor. Maybe it was the back pain that made me shy away from sitting at a computer for any length of time. But the back is starting to feel better and I knew if I didn’t get back to writing soon I’d start drifting away. So let’s do what we do best here, talk about food. This is a simple one.

1. Do you like Chinese Hot and Sour soup?
2. Do you want to make dinner fast so you have time for other stuff?
3. Do you have a husband who cooks?

If you answered yes to any of these questions put one of these in your pantry and you or your sweetie will be able to make dinner in a flash, sort of.
soupI know this sounds like a commercial but this is far from it. Matter of fact, my Sweetie had major skepticism until a coupon got him to take a chance on buying this box o’ broth. Then the other night as we mulled over what to have for dinner he said, “How about Hot & Sour soup? We’ve got all the parts to put it together.”  Now I know it probably isn’t as simple as that, you do have to have a few other essential ingredients but they aren’t really exotic and you can get away with the bare minimum and still say, “This is damn good!”

You’ll need:

One, 32 oz. box of Swanson Chinese Hot & Sour Broth
2 Tbls cornstarch
3 Tbls cold water
1 cup mushrooms (any kind is fine but Mr. Chef used shiitaki and wood ear. Button, cremini, oyster or any readily available fresh mushroom will work.  But even if all you have is canned, drain ’em and use ’em)
1/3 of an 8oz can of bamboo shoots, diced (Mr. Chef used Tiger Lily buds that he dried himself last summer – okay, I guess, we have unusual items ‘on hand.’
7 oz of firm tofu, diced
1 egg, beaten
1/4 C. green onion, thinly sliced

How to Make it:

Stir the cornstarch and water in a small bowl until smooth.
Heat the mushrooms, broth, bamboo shoots (or whatever) in a 4 qt saucepan on medium high, heat to a boil. Add the cornstarch mix and bring back to a boil, stirring constantly w/ a whisk.
Reduce heat, add tofu; add egg without stirring. Cook for about 3 minutes, stirring to swirl the egg after 1 minute. (like in egg drop soup). Sprinkle with onion.  This should serve 6 or give you a lot of leftovers.

What is great is the broth is really authentic tasting. That is, it tastes just like my local Chinese restaurant.

Hot&SourAdditional tips for the adventurous:
Feel free to add a little meat (2 – 4 ounces). Pork or chicken is good. Slice the pieces thinly and put them in when you add the tofu. Once the meat is cooked through, then add the egg.

If you aren’t a fan of boiled tofu, do what Mr. Chef did and slice it thin and fry it first in a little oil.  Don’t stir it or muck around with it.  Just let it sit and fry, turn gently once the bottom is nicely colored, flip and fry the other side.  Drain on paper towels before adding to the soup.

Experiment. Different vegetables, more green onions, no green onions, cabbage. You won’t have traditional Chinese Hot & Sour Soup but you will have a tasty soup.  I would not leave out the egg, however, and the mushrooms are pretty important as well.

As an extra bonus, this is a great soup to have when you have a cold.  The rich chicken broth with the peppery heat and tart sourness helps clear the head and nourishes the soul and you can actually taste its bold flavors through the dullness of the cold.


Quick Hot & Sour Soup w/ potstickers on the side.

Hey! Enjoy. Time to go do my stretching exercises and then catch up on my blog reading.


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