CHINESE HOT AND SOUR SOUP

Junior’s favorite soup is P.F. Chang’s Hot and Sour and, goodness knows, I’ve tried to duplicate it. Though I haven’t yet succeeded, years ago I hit on a version that made Junior name this recipe his second favorite soup. Though it should serve 6-8 dinner-sized portions, in our house of four it’s often wiped out in one sitting. An added bonus is that it’s pretty easy to make.

8 cups chicken broth

3/4 cup soy sauce

3/4 cup rice wine vinegar

2 tbsp chili sauce (or 1 tbsp if you want to tone down the “hot”)

1 tbsp sesame seed oil

1/2 tbsp ground white pepper

1 can bamboo shoots, drained and coarsely chopped

1-1/2 cups bean sprouts (I prefer fresh, but when not available, canned is pretty good)

6 oz mushrooms, chopped

2 cups chopped deli-roasted chicken

1-16 oz pkg firm tofu, drained and cubed

4 tbsp cornstarch dissolved in 1/2 cup water

2 eggs, beaten

3 green onions, sliced thin

1-1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

1) To large soup pot over medium-high heat, add: broth, soy sauce, vinegar, chili sauce, sesame seed oil, and white pepper; stir to combine and bring to a boil

2) Lower heat to medium and add: bamboo shoots, bean sprouts, mushrooms, chicken, and tofu; cook 10 minutes

3) Stir in cornstarch dissolved in water; cook 10 minutes

4) While gently stirring soup in a circular motion, slowly pour in beaten egg; cook 5 minutes

5) Scatter green onions and red pepper flakes over soup; remove from heat, serve, and slurp!

Serves: 6-8 dinner-sized portions

SPICY PORK NOODLE SOUP

Asian-inspired soups are always a hit at our house, especially if “spicy” figures into it. Though this is not a “hot-and-sour” soup, it shares some of the same taste-bud-pleasing notes. Unfortunately, Junior wasn’t home to ladle up his share, but Senior and Junior Too didn’t mind his absence. Bottom-of-the-bowl good!

1 tbsp olive oil

1 lb pork tenderloin, cut into bite-size pieces

5 oz soba noodles (or ramen or spaghetti)

4 cups chicken broth

3 tbsp soy sauce

juice of 1 lime

1/2 tsp paprika

1/2 tsp ground cayenne (or 1 tsp if you’re up for spicy-er)

1-14 oz can bean sprouts, drained

4 scallions, sliced thin

2 tsp chopped red chiles

1) In large soup pot (I used cast iron), heat olive oil over medium-high heat; add pork and, stirring occasionally, cook 5-6 minutes until meat browns

2) Meanwhile, cook noodles according to package directions (soba: 3 minutes in boiling water); drain and set aside

3) To pork add: broth, soy sauce, lime juice, paprika, cayenne, and bean sprouts; bring soup to a boil, reduce heat to low, and cook 15 minutes, stirring occasionally; stir in noodles and scallions and remove soup from heat

4) Ladle soup into bowls and scatter red chiles over top (or serve chiles on side to allow your hungry ones to determine their own level of spicy)

Serving: 4