Egg Drop Soup
Traditional Chinese restaurants used to be a staple in the Portland area and other cities on west coast. It’s sad to see that they have had a major decline since my childhood. Some remain but the proud Chinese traditional restaurants of the past seem to be harder and harder to find. Every Chinese restaurant has an egg drop soup and they range from forgettable to fit for a king. When prepared right there is nothing like this simple yet perfect recipe. This soup can be prepared with just eggs and broth, but I have had them a variety of ways. I like the addition of traditional chicken soup vegetables to add some crunch to go with the savory, so I have added them in here. Egg Drop Soup really depends on one ingredient, chicken stock. For this to work you need a real, thick, delicious stock that is more than just a broth. The other ingredients are simply a side show to the chicken stock. Following this Egg Drop Soup recipe is my recipe for chicken stock so if buying, make sure you purchase stock and not broth.
Egg Drop Soup
3 cups chicken stock (recipe follows)
1 small carrot
1 rib celery
1 clove garlic
1 green onion
1 Tbsp tapioca starch
salt to taste
Finely chop carrot and celery and mince garlic clove. Add stock, chopped vegetables, and a shake of salt to a small pot and bring to a boil.
Meanwhile, in a small bowl add 1 tbsp tapioca starch to 1 tbsp cold water and mix to create a slurry and set aside.
Reduce stock and vegetables to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes. Next stir in the tapioca slurry and turn off heat but leave pot on burner.
Beat eggs in a bowl with a fork, then slowly drizzle into the while you move the fork clockwise around the pot to prevent egg from clumping. Counterclockwise works just as well, of course. Allow egg to cook for 1 minute.
Taste and adjust salt as needed. Remove from heat, add to serving bowls, and garnish with chopped green onion.
makes 4 first course servings
Tip: cornstarch can be used instead of tapioca starch. I have tapioca starch in my pantry and use it often as a slightly healthier ingredient than cornstarch, but they both will to the job.
Homestyle Chicken Stock
A homemade chicken stock is easy to make as long as two simple steps are observed. The first is to expose the inside of the chicken bone marrow. If this step is skipped you will end up with a lighter chicken broth rather than a thick stock. The second, and an important component of any stock, is a sufficient amount of members of the onion family. A lot of garlic and onion will round out the flavor of your stock. The onions and garlic are so important that you really could make a great stock with only them and the chicken alone.
10 cups water
Mixed chicken pieces (neck, wings, backbone)
1 Tbsp butter
6-8 Garlic cloves
Two wings, the backbone, and the neck are plenty to make a great batch of chicken stock. These are basically the leftovers after cutting up your own chicken. Another way to make a homemade stock if you don’t want to cut up a chicken is to simply buy 1-2 pounds of chicken wings. If you have additional pieces or skin feel free to add them in. A meat cleaver is helpful for exposing the marrow or you can use the heavy (handle) end of a sharp chefs knife. Make cuts (more like knicks) about a half inch apart on one side. When you give the chicken a whack you want to cut just into the bone, flip over pieces and do the same on the other side. Don’t worry if you slice all the way through a piece.
Add butter to a dutch oven or stockpot and bring heat to med-high. Salt chicken liberally and add to pot. Make sure to move them around so they do not stick.
After a few minutes cut an onion in half and nestle in between chicken so the cut surface of the onion is touching the bottom of the pan. Turn a chefs knife side ways and smash each clove, remove husk and add to pot along with celery, carrot tops, and parsley.
Add 10 cups of water and bay leaf and bring pot to a boil. Reduce heat to low and cook for two hours covered. Taste and add salt if desired to finish of the stock or wait until using for a recipe.
Remove the large pieces of chicken and then strain the remaining stock through a fine strainer. Enforcing with cheesecloth will help get the littlest bits out but this is not crucial.
Tip: It is really important to get every last bit of nutrition we can from any animal or other food that has been harvested. When making stock we are extracting nutrition from the throw away parts, it’s a beautiful thing.