Easy Chinese Mushroom Soup
Mushrooms feature in so many Chinese soup recipes and there are various types to choose from. You can add regular button mushrooms to a Chinese soup recipe or try some Chinese mushrooms. Use whichever mushrooms you want. Wood ear mushrooms, which are also known as black fungus, are a favorite in China, or you can try enoki or shiitake. Buy them dried or fresh. Dried mushrooms need to be rehydrated, which usually means soaking them in water before use.
Dried mushrooms offer a richer, earthier flavor than fresh ones. While you might be able to find one brand in your local grocery store, you will be amazed just how many types are on offer at an Asian food store. Enoki mushrooms have long thin stems and tiny heads. They look similar to noodles when cooked and you should cut the bottoms off and separate the strands before adding them to a recipe. Black fungus, or wood ear mushrooms, look like brown and black cardboard in strips. You need to soak them in hot water before use.
The following soup recipe suggests 3 types of mushrooms but adapt this according to what you can get. You might like to add some red bell pepper for a color contrast or perhaps another vegetable like broccoli, beansprouts or winter melon. The chicken broth makes a good foundation for this recipe. Serve this soup with a spoonful of Chinese red vinegar and a few drops of hot sauce if you want to make it a hot and sour soup, or omit those finishing touches if you just want to savor the mushroom flavors.
- 2 pints chicken broth
- 1 package fresh enoki mushrooms (golden mushrooms)
- Chicken broth powder, as needed
- 6 dried Chinese mushrooms
- 1½ cups dried sliced wood ear mushrooms (black fungus)
- White pepper, to taste
- ½ finely chopped red bell pepper (optional)
- 6 tablespoons cornstarch
- Prepare all the mushrooms, rehydrating if dried and separating enoki strands if necessary.
- Bring the broth to a boil and add the bell pepper and mushrooms.
- Simmer for 10 minutes.
- Combine the cornstarch with just enough water to dissolve it, then pour some of this mixture into the soup and stir.
- Add a little more and stir again.
- Repeat until the soup is thick enough.
- Stir in a teaspoon of chicken broth powder and taste the soup.
- Add more if it is not salty enough.
- Season with white pepper then serve immediately.
This soup features mushrooms, chicken broth and a touch of red bell pepper if you want to add it for color. The main flavor is of course the mushrooms and you will find the chicken broth goes beautifully with the earthy mushroom flavor. This soup can be thickened up as little or as much as you like with the cornstarch slurry. It is important to add a bit at a time. Some people dump it all into the pot and then discover their soup is too thick, so it is best to add it gradually. Serve this soup with vinegar and hot sauce if you wish, or simply as it is, to enjoy the pure mushroom flavor.
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