It’s more than likely that during one of your many dining excursions to your local, favorite Chinese restaurant (over the course of your lifetime, as has been the case with me) your waiter asked, “Would you like egg drop soup to go with your order?” And since that moment from childhood to now, you at some point said, “OF COURSE!” Egg drop soup has been a serving staple in Chinese restaurants all across America for as long as anyone can remember. Its light, savory and soothing broth has warmed appetites from Asia to Europe and throughout the United States for years.
What makes this delicious soup so popular and one of the most regularly ordered appetizers and main courses at any Chinese restaurant is its pure simplicity, which can go a long way for anyone not familiar with cuisines outside of their comfort zones. Consisting of eggs, broth and a bit of corn starch (which helps give the soup its body), it takes almost no time at all to prepare for yourself or guests.
One thing I’ve always loved about this soup is all the tasty things I can add to it if I’m in the mood for something spicy or making it a part of my main course meal. Depending on your personal preference, the soup can be enhanced by some of my all-time favorites such as minced ginger, garlic or adding one or two cinnamon sticks steeped in the broth. Adding any of your favorite vegetables such as mushrooms, spinach or cabbage is a great idea, as is including tofu – to help kick your egg drop soup up a healthy note. After you’ve mastered the base of this versatile soup, your very own version will surely know no boundaries.
As I mentioned earlier, there are only 3 ingredients that go into making egg drop soup: eggs, broth and corn starch. So let’s dig into a few ideas I’d like to share with you while you get prepared:
For this recipe, you will need to collect about 4 eggs, depending on size. As with any dairy product you choose to buy, make sure your eggs are at their freshest. I always prefer to buy eggs that are either local, organic, or free range, but the choice is solely up to you.
If you are not into a full egg flavor in your egg drop soup, using egg whites will work just fine. Or if you’re just not sure, try a mix of the two.
The most challenging aspect of this part is choosing from the multiple varieties stocked at your supermarket. Typically, egg drop soup is made with chicken broth, which you can buy pre-made. If you prefer going the vegetarian route, your market should also have vegetable stock on hand. One thing to consider as you shop for broth, is the sodium content found in many store bought stocks. They can be quite high, so if this poses a health concern for you, be aware and choose wisely. Of course, if you already have homemade chicken or vegetable stock on hand, you’ll “wow” your soup with just that much more personal authenticity. What more can a cook want?
What makes egg drop soup stand out from most other soups is its body, or consistency if you will. With so few ingredients, you run the risk of producing a soup that has a watery base with some clumpy bits. What you want to try and achieve are eggs that are smooth and silky. The key is to add corn starch to your broth before you heat the liquid; this will make sure that the corn starch doesn’t become lumpy. Finally, when you are ready to add your eggs to the heated broth, you can expect them to come out looking like fine ribbons, instead of scrambled eggs.
DRESSING IT UP
There are so many ways to elevate your egg drop soup and to make it your very own. Make sure to add a little bit of black pepper and salt, with a dash of soy sauce to add that authentic Asian flavor and give your soup a slightly caramel color.
At many Chinese restaurants, you’ll typically find that corn (either fresh or thawed) and green onion are added to egg drop soup. Including these items at the very end of the cooking process can help add depth and boost the soup’s flavor, as well as add a slightly crunchy taste.
Speaking of crunchy: how about adding a few fried wontons on top of your bowl? Just a slightly tantalizing thought.
Finally, if you are planning to serve the soup as a main dish, consider the suggestions I offered earlier, but don’t feel limited by them. Why not consider one of Asia’s most popular exports: shitake mushrooms. These mushrooms are medicinal in their use in many parts of Asia. They are loaded with vitamins and minerals and are considered to be important to our everyday health.
ONE LAST HELPFUL PIECE OF ADVICE
Egg drop soup is meant to be eaten as soon as it is made. If you’ve ever tried to refrigerate it or, worse yet, freeze it – what you end up serving is a soup that has lost its famous consistency and its’ even more well-known delightful taste. Part of the charm of ladling egg drop soup into your bowl is experiencing the warm steam and beautiful aroma that arises once it’s off the stove.
HOW TO MAKE EGG DROP SOUPPrint
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