Along with Chinese Chicken Corn Soup, Chinese Hot and Sour Soup is another dish that Pakistanis have adopted, loved and enjoyed as their own for many decades now ! Instead of day lily buds, bamboo shoots and tofu, the Pakistani version adds grated carrots and shredded cabbage to the soup for crunchy texture.
From posh restaurants to roadside stalls, one can find different variations of this soup; the low priced version is usually thicker in consistency to make it more filling as a meal. The high end restaurants make it more soupy and sometimes add fancy ingredients like bamboo shoots, shrimps and mushrooms.
For any soup, what makes it rich and more flavourful is basically a good stock. I sauté the vegetables and chicken before making a stock to add depth of flavour. You can bring down the heat by reducing or skipping the red chillies and adding only black or white pepper instead. Before serving taste the soup for a balance of salty and sour to suit your taste.
For Chicken Vegetable Stock:
1 medium onion, peeled
1 tomato, poked with fork
1 carrot, peeled
1 whole head of garlic
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon sunflower oil
For Chicken Hot and Sour Soup:
2 carrots, peeled and grated
1 cup shredded cabbage
Cooked, deboned chicken from the stock
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons Chinese hot sauce
2 tablespoons white vinegar
1 egg, beaten
4 tablespoons corn flour diluted with a little water
(Add more for thicker soup)
This Is What You Do:
Add all the vegetables, continue to toss them till all the ingredients look slightly caramelised.
Fill the pan 2/3 with water, bring it to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover the pan, let the stock simmer for at least an hour. Keep removing the fat on top with a tablespoon every ten minutes. Add more water if needed to keep the chicken and vegetables submerged.
Remove the chicken and vegetables with a slotted spoon. Strain the stock through a fine strainer into another pot.
Discard the vegetables, let the chicken come to room temperature and debone it into small bite size pieces. Keep aside to add to the soup.
Heat stock in a deep pan. Add chicken, the sauces and vinegar. Add diluted corn flour slowly, keep stirring continuously till the soup thickens.
Add the beaten egg, again slowly in a stream, while stirring continuously, to make soft clouds.
Turn off the heat, add grated carrots and shredded cabbage, cover the pan for 5 minutes. If you will add the vegetables while the soup is still cooking, the vegetables will wilt and not taste nice.
Taste for seasoning, stir in more salt and pepper if required. Serve immediately with hot chilli sauce and sliced green peppers in white vinegar on side.