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One of my favorite cuisines growing up was the incredible crappy Chinese restaurant about two minutes from my house.Everything was unbelievably addicting; there were water chestnuts galore, my dad’s favorite shrimp egg fu young, and these incredible inventions called beef curry samosas (which i will try to make one day).

Whenever I was sick as a kid, I wouldn’t want to eat a whole lot. But I’d eat Chinese. So my mom would stick me with some Szechuan chicken (water chestnuts included, but no bell peppers because she was allergic), and a steaming hot bowl of hot and sour soup. The soup always did the trick.

Because I loved hot and sour soup so much, I didn’t want to wait until I was sick to have it. So, I found a recipe to work with. Just like with my grandmother’s vegetable soup, I always have the ingredients for this one on hand (though this is a bit easier since it doesn’t need all the fresh vegetables). If you’re any kind of stuffed up, whether from the flu, cold, or sinus infection, trust me: make this. The heat factor will help your sinuses drain. A little gross, but very true.

Even if you’re not sick, it’s amazing. One of my fondest memories of my entire youth was eating an entire pot of hot and sour soup while reading the last Harry Potter book over the course of a day (and very late into the night). Yes, I am a nerd. I still love Harry Potter, and I always will.

This recipe is super quick and easy. At least my adapted version is. I found the original recipe at myrecipes.com. Their process is more thorough, including dried mushrooms, some turkey, and tofu. Mine lacks that, keeping it simple. Mine also lacks that slime-factor that sometimes accompanies hot and sour soup. My guess is that it maybe has something to do with the mushrooms?

My recipe makes about a pot. If you’re going family of four, go ahead and double up. All it takes is about fifteen minutes to make this, and you’re golden. And it only takes a few things:

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  • 3 cups of vegetable broth (vegetable is important. chicken and beef just doesn’t work well, the flavor is too strong)
  • 1 1/2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 tablespoons grated ginger (I used minced this time, see above. That jar is just so damn convenient.)
  • 1 lemongrass stalk, cut into large pieces. I actually have a lemongrass plant in my yard. If you don’t, you can use the lemongrass paste, but use it sparingly. You need the flavor, but it makes the texture gritty. Don’t use more than 3/4 tsp.
  • 1 tbsp red chili paste (if you’re having doubts, or your family doesn’t want it too spicy, you can cut this in half)
  • 1/8 cup soy sauce
  • 1/8 cup rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch mixed with 1 1/2 of water
  • 1 egg

It seems like a lot of ingredients, but most of it you’ll probably already have in your pantry or fridge, especially if you have any tendency at all to cook asian food.

First, add the oil to a medium to large saucepan. Everything is all going in one pot. Once the oil has started to heat on medium high, add the garlic, lemongrass (you can crush it a little if you want), ginger, and chili paste. Let it cook for about 3 minutes.

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This time I used smashed garlic.

Anyways, moving on. After it’s cooked for a few minutes, add in the stock, soy sauce, sesame oil, and rice vinegar and stir. Let simmer for five to ten minutes, heating through.

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Mix the cornstarch and water in a small bowl. After blended together, it should almost form a paste that resembles glue. This will thicken up the soup. Stir it in.

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After you see the soup thicken, about two minutes, beat an egg in a small bowl. Slowly add tiny bits to the soup at a time while stirring, creaming a ribbon effect. The egg ribbons will cook instantly on contact with the soup. Let cook for another two minutes for all the flavors to finish meshing, and you’re set to serve.

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When it comes to food that will straight up make you feel better, this one will for a lot of reasons. If you don’t want just soup, you can easily do fried rice or sweet and sour chicken (recipe coming soonish) to go with it.

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