Vegan Hot and Sour Soup with Fresh Shiitakes and Vermicelli Noodles
Although I am not much of a soup person, two soups I’ve always adored are Thai Tom Yum Goong and Cantonese Hot and Sour Soup, known in pinyin as Suan La Tang. As a kid, the first time I tasted Tom Yum Goong it was love, and Suan La Tang was also an instant winner. Ever since then I’ve been a fan of these piping hot soups with their combination of sour, savoury, and spicy flavours that never fail to thrill my taste buds.
My rendition of the soup below is a combination of some of my favourite aspects of both soups, minus the shrimp paste that usually accompanies Tom Yum Goong and the egg threads traditionally included in Suan La Tang. Tom Yum Goong can also include ingredients such kaffir lime leaves and galangal. Although I haven’t included these two ingredients in this recipe, I hope to give them a try sometime, as I think they could help create unusual, subtle flavours in the soup. I’ve also included Japanese and Malaysian elements in this soup via the seasoned sushi vinegar and the vermicelli noodles, which are usually found in soups like Malaysian laksas.
12 cups imitation chicken broth (I used Nutrimax Natural Foods vegetarian chicken soup base)
2 cups fresh shiitake mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 cup fresh carrot, sliced into matchstick-sized pieces
1-8oz. can sliced water chestnuts, drained
1-8oz. can sliced bamboo shoots, drained and rinsed
1-14oz. can sliced miniature corn, drained
2/3 cup seasoned sushi vinegar (I used the Marukan brand)
1/4 cup black sesame oil (or just use toasted sesame oil)
1/2 cup Braggs
3 tbsp tapioca starch
5 tsp chili-garlic paste (not sriracha, but the coarser paste that comes in a jar)
2 handfuls brown rice vermicelli, broken in half (about 30 grams)
175 g. extra firm pressed tofu, sliced into matchstick-sized pieces
4 cups thinly sliced baby bok choy
2 whole green onions, thinly sliced
1. In a large pot, combine the broth, mushrooms, carrot, water chestnuts, bamboo shoots, and corn. Bring the broth mixture to a boil over high heat. Once the broth has begun to boil, immediately reduce the heat to medium-high and let it cook for three minutes.
2. While you’re waiting for the soup to cook, combine the vinegar, sesame oil, Braggs, and chili-garlic paste in a bowl. Mix to combine, then add the tapioca starch and mix thoroughly to dissolve the starch.
3. Add the vermicelli noodles to the soup and let it cook another two minutes. Then add the tofu, bok choy, and green onions, cooking the soup a further two minutes.
4. Next, add the tapioca starch mixture, gently stirring the soup continuously as you add it, being careful not to break up the tofu. Cook the soup another two minutes, then remove from heat. Serve immediately.
Makes 9 large servings.