Hot & Sour & Easy

Tonight’s supper was hot and sour soup, based on a recipe from the Moosewood Restaurant Lowfat Favorites cookbook. I have made some modifications to the original, but I use verbatim the recipe for the Southeast Asian Vegetable Stock, for which you boil:
one onion, quartered
6 garlic cloves, peeled
2 stalks celery
2 carrots, peeled
3″ fresh ginger, sliced
1 stalk lemongrass*
2 tbsp coriander seeds
1 tsp peppercorns
1 bay leaf
1 star anise (or 1/2 tsp aniseed)
9 cups water
for 45 minutes (or 10 minutes in a pressure cooker), then drain.
*We found lemongrass at the Atwater market, but we’ve also used citronella in jars from the supermarket, and you can find it dried, as well.
For the actual soup, I use:
2 cups thinly sliced onions
2 tsps oil (something light)
5 garlic cloves, minced
1 or 2 minced chilis (optional**)
1 tbsp chipotle-lime mustard (optional)
the stock
15 ounce can mushrooms, or one package fresh, sliced
8 ounce can pineapple chunks, drained
28 ounce can chopped tomatoes, drained
lots of fresh basil, cilantro and mint (about a 1/4 cup or more of herbs altogether)
2 tbsp lime juice
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 pkge tofu, cut into cubes or strips
Use a big pot.
Saute the onions in the oil until they’re a little soft (about 5 minutes), then add the garlic, and the chilis if you’re using them. Stir for a minute, then add the mustard and vegetables, bring to a boil, and simmer on lower heat for about 5 minutes. Add everything else, then simmer for another 10 minutes.
If you want to get really fancy, you can serve with lime wedges, etc.
**to accommodate younger palates, I leave out the chilis and bring red and/or green Tabasco to the table for the grown-ups, who can add as much or as little hot as they like. In fact, this strategy works well with all kinds of traditionally hot dishes, like chili, and has the added benefit of allowing you to adjust the hotness to your personal taste. At our dinner table, the green Tabasco lives at my end, and the red at his. And on a side note, we defy anyone to spend two weeks in New Orleans and not come home addicted to Tabasco. We met one woman there who actually carried a bottle in her purse “for emergencies.”
We serve this soup with a well-chilled Riesling, such as the 2006 McWilliams. The wine is quite citrusy, so it works well with this kind of soup, and it’s subtle enough that it doesn’t overpower the flavours of the soup.
Reisling is one of those whites that I would never drink on its own, but that works really well with the right food. Asian dishes, or the very few Thai dishes we do, seem to be the perfect foil for the McWilliams. When it comes to Indian, we tend to favour the Chardonnays and blends, perhaps because the creaminess of the Indian dishes works better with a good, buttery Chardonnay.

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