My boyfriend has a saying, “No brag, just fact.” Maybe that will get me out of sounding overly smug in this post.
It starts humbly. I got slammed with some kind of bug this week that had me either voiceless or sounding like Lauren Bacall on an off day. This week I was teaching and rehearsal directing, a.k.a. speaking at full voice nonstop for hours. Lousy time to lose my voice.
Last night I had to call in sick. I missed opening night of The Yorkville Nutcracker that I’ve been rehearsal directing since September. That sucked.
But since I was home, with time to cook, I hoped that something hot, something soupy, something spicy might blast through the sniffly nose and hoarse voice. I thought of the hot and sour soup I love at Chinese restaurants, and looked up a recipe.
Here’s where the brags, I mean facts, show up. Really I’m just pleased with myself for having a few unusual ingredients on hand and improvising my way around the ingredients I didn’t have.
The recipe called for wood ear mushrooms. Check - Jeremy showed me where to find those in Prospect Park a few months ago, and I dried a bunch.
It also called for lily buds - check. In this case, daylilies that I dried in early summer. Okay, actually I didn’t dry the buds because I don’t like the texture of the whole dried buds. I just dried the petals.
Instead of the optional chili pepper oil in the original recipe, I used the last of the recently harvested hot peppers from my garden. I picked them a couple of days ago, knowing that temps were going to dip down near freezing this week (and that meant the end of this year’s pepper plants).
I didn’t have the bamboo shoots called for, so I used some lightly steamed broccoli stems that I’d cut into a shape like the thin rectangles the bamboo shoots usually come in. I also didn’t have the pork tenderloin the recipe specified, but I did have homemade salt pork in the fridge, so I used a little of that.
It was good. And, as is the way with soups, the leftovers were even better for lunch today. And I am feeling much better (no brag, just fact).
Here is the original recipe from a colleague at About.com. It’s really good and very forgiving of substitutions, as my experiment with it illustrates. For my tastes, it needed more vinegar, so I added a splash extra. I will make this again.