Delicious Hot and Sour Soup

We all have to eat sometimes, even me. One thing I particularly like is hot and sour soup, but not the weird thick kind with egg in it. A long time ago, I found a recipe for the kind that’s thin, hot, and sour, but I’ve never been able to find it again. I remembered enough of it to at least be able to make the soup, though. Now, I’ll share my rather informal recipe with you. If I could remember where the original recipe was I’d just link there, but I found it once about five years or so ago, and never again.

This is not a recipe for the precise. I’m never very precise with it; no reason you should be either. Just eyeball it and taste it periodically to see if it needs more of whatever.

##Ingredients * Stock of some sort. I use chicken, but the vegetarians among us can use vegetable stock. Last time I made it I used 3 32 oz. cartons. * Either that red Chinese BBQ pork you find at the store, or tofu, depending on your desire. * A can of bamboo shoots. You could use two if you’re making a lot of soup, but that might be excessive. * Lemongrass. Probably one per 24-32 oz. of stock, but you could add more if you wanted. * Some basil, or Thai basil if you remembered to get it/can find it. * Several limes. * Some cloves of garlic, to taste. * Some cooking oil. * Some peppers, also to taste. I use habaneros, but you might want a lesser pepper. Last time I made some, I used two habaneros, but should have put in more. Your results may vary. * Some rubber, latex, or nitrile gloves. If you’re using habaneros, you really don’t want to forget these. Once, I cut up a habanero without wearing gloves, and I was up with burning hands until about four in the morning. The gloves are pretty important. * Optional If you’re afraid the habaneros won’t be enough, have some ghost pepper hot sauce handy to make it spicier. Remember, a little goes a long way.

##Steps * Put on your gloves. * Mince the garlic and peppers. * In a pot large enough for the soup you’re planning on making, heat some oil. Put the peppers and garlic into the oil and stir them around for a while. If you’re using habaneros it will be a little uncomfortable to be around. Turning the burner down a little can help there. Get a can or carton of the stock ready. * Carefully clean off your cutting board and knife that you used for the peppers. Once that’s done, you can go ahead and take your gloves off. * Once the garlic and pepper bits seem to be cooked, but before they get burned, dump the first thing of stock into the pot. Add the rest of the stock now as well. * Squeeze a couple of limes and pour the juice in. Stir it around thoroughly, and see how sour it is. Add more lime juice as needed to make it more sour, but try to be careful not to add too much. You may want to only add one or two more limes worth of juice right now, and then see how sour it seems later. Sometimes it’ll get super sour all at once. * Chop up the lemongrass and basil up and toss it in. * Add the bamboo shoots. Don’t forget to open the can and drain it out first. * Slice the Chinese BBQ pork into little strips, or cube up your tofu, and toss that in too. * Check the sourness and hotness. If it should be more sour, add more lime juice. If it should be hotter, add some ghost pepper sauce one drop at a time. Stir thoroughly, then taste again. Repeat (carefully!) until it’s hot enough. * Turn the soup up and let it boil for a while. Then, turn it down and let it simmer for however long seems appropriate. After an hour or so it should be good, but you can start munching on it earlier. I find, though, that it’s better after it’s simmered for a while, since the lemongrass isn’t as hard and the BBQ pork softens up a bit.

That’s pretty much it. It’s easy to make, tasty, and even better after it’s sat in the fridge over night, too. This recipe is pretty easy to adjust for taste as well; I like it spicy enough to strip the paint from the walls, but it’s easy to make less spicy for the benefit of the spice weenies among us too.

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