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Hot And Sour Soup

Once you make this homemade hot and sour soup, you won’t want take-out again!

Hot And Sour Soup-0852

It’s freezing here in New York. I’m not complaining, because the winter has been so mild, but the mild weather did stop me from making as many pots of hot soup as I usually do. This hot and sour soup made me realize how much I miss having a big pot of healing warming soup in the fridge at all times!

When I was a kid I remember getting hot and sour soup from the Chinese restaurant and we used to top it with those deliciously fried Chinese crispy noodles… does anyone else remember this? I’m so out of the take-out food loop now that I don’t even know if you still get those little waxy bags of crunchy noodles… But, this soup recipe is so good that it doesn’t need the noodles. Really. I did, however, put little dots of sriracha in mine at the end because it looks pretty and made it extra awesome.

The beauty of hot and sour soup is that you can make it as spicy or as mild as you like. Did you know that the spice comes from black pepper? I remember being surprised at that the first time I made it… but this makes it even easier to prepare and to shop for.  You can customize it with whatever mushrooms you like (I rehydrated some dried shiitakes) and whatever seaweed you like (if any).  I added pork to this pot, but feel free to use chicken or if you are vegan, use tofu.

So, this week we kept this pot of comforting, warming, spicy soup in a big pot in the fridge for 4 days. We ate a lot of it. Like, an embarrassing amount. But it’s so good. And it’s so light and healthy. And it just makes you feel good. And, I also remembered another thing that happens here when there’s a pot of soup in the fridge all week. Today I went to take the pot out, got my bowl and spoon ready, opened the lid, and saw about 1/4 cup of soup left in the bottom of the pot. It’s like leaving one sheet of toilet tissue in the bathroom… ugh!!!! So disappointing, but so typical!

If you want to jump on the soup bandwagon, you should definitely also make a pot of my Butternut Squash And Apple Soup.

Hot And Sour Soup (rehydrated shiitakes)-0831

Here’s some of the great things in this soup:

I love mushrooms. In Chinese medicine, mushrooms ARE medicine. They are herbs. They are one of the most healing foods around. Shiitake mushrooms are probably the variety of mushroom that I use most. I love the way they taste and they help lower blood pressure and cholesterol. These shrooms also promote healing and have been found to fight tumors. In Asia, shiitake mushrooms are often fed to a patient who has just had surgery to help the healing process.

I like to use some type of seaweed in my hot and sour soup. I used nori in this pot because it’s what I had on hand, but feel free to use whatever type you like. Seaweed is good for your thyroid gland and your lymphatic system. If you have swelling in your body or you are retaining water, seaweed is great because it acts as a diuretic. In the olden days, seaweed was fed to people to get rid of goiters and tuberculosis.

Bamboo shoots actually make you feel better if you have overeaten and are feeling full and bloated or if you have diarrhea. And, if you have a hangover, reach for the bamboo shoots because they will help you feel better faster. This vegetable can also act as a diuretic, so if you have edema, this would be good for you.

Black pepper is a Chinese herb (Hu Jiao). It helps relieve vomiting and food poisoning.

Pork strengthens the digestive system, helps with constipation, and can moisten a dry cough and other dryness in the body. It’s also good to strengthen your qi and give you energy.

Hot And Sour Soup

Hot And Sour Soup
Author: 
Recipe type: soup
Cuisine: Chinese
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
 
Recipe adapted fromthekitchn.com. This is better than take-out. It's delicious, healthy, and so incredibly warming!
Ingredients
  • 1 oz dried shiitake mushrooms, rehydrated in a bowl of hot water for about 20 minutes (be sure to save the soaking liquid to add to the soup)
  • 1 qt chicken broth
  • 1 Tbs liquid aminos (or soy sauce) (you can buy aminos here)
  • ⅓ lb pork cutlet, sliced into thin strips (or use tofu for a vegan version)
  • 5 oz can sliced bamboo shoots, drained
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • ¼ tsp (or more to taste) ground black pepper
  • 7 Tbs white vinegar
  • 3 Tbs cornstarch whisked together with 4 Tbs water
  • 2 Tbs nori krinkles (or substitute another type of seaweed) (you can get them here)
  • 1 beaten egg
  • Optional toppings: extra nori, drizzle of sriracha
Instructions
  1. Soak the mushrooms in a small bowl of water. Drain them and reserve the soaking liquid. Slice the shrooms.
  2. In a large soup pot, heat the chicken broth, aminos, and sea salt.
  3. When it comes to a boil, add the mushroom soaking liquid, pork strips, nori, and bamboo shoots.
  4. Reduce heat to a simmer and cover for 5 minutes.
  5. Add the vinegar and black pepper.
  6. Bring to a full boil, and stir in the cornstarch mixture. Continue stirring until the soup begins to thicken, about 5 minutes.
  7. Remove from heat and stir in the egg -- stir continuously until it looks like egg drop soup.
  8. Ladle into bowls and top with additional nori and sriracha if desired.
  9. Enjoy!

Spicy Crispy Chicken

Spicy crispy chicken is a staple in my house. It’s one of those recipes that pleases everyone!

Crispy Spicy Chicken

We are doing a detox in my house. After a full month of parties, vacations, and celebrations, we are actually looking forward to it! It’s funny, when I just wrote that sentence I realized that while we did celebrate more than usual this month, really a lot of our overeating  was done at home when not celebrating… ugh! It’s time to stop!!!!

But, in our house, a detox doesn’t mean green juices all day long (although I do love my green juice…). For the month of January, we are eliminating all grains, sweeteners, beans, and a long list of other things our bodies feel better without.

Nobody really knows they are detoxing because recipes like this spicy crispy chicken are on our eating plan.  And for the rest of this month, you will see plenty of other great recipes that fit into our elimination diet.

Just look at this picture — can you believe this is a healthy recipe that would fit into an elimination diet? Well, it is… and it tastes even better than it looks!  And, if you are looking for a simple salad to go perfectly with this dish, try my Romaine Wedge Salad.

This chicken is really crispy (my son thought it was fried) and you can adjust the spiciness to your particular taste. For my son, I dipped the chicken fully into the amazing spicy/sweet sauce and really rolled it around so it was extra spicy. For the rest of us, I drizzled it on top or left it on the side for awesome dipping.

Crispy Spicy Chicken (sauce bowl in hand)

Let’s get cooking and get back to feeling healthier:

Chicken is something I always buy organic. Organic chicken is a great, healthy protein to give you energy, lessen the pain of some types of arthritis, and boost your system when you are particularly weak — like after surgery, childbirth, or illness. Chicken is good for nourishing the blood and it’s a healthy source of protein and vitamin B6.

Hot peppers contain more vitamin C than any other vegetable and they are good at fighting off the common cold. Whenever I have a cold I eat lots of hot sauce. So, if you like spice, as I do, use a generous amount of whatever hot sauce you like. Read the ingredients on the label (as with any pre-made food) to make sure it meets your dietary requirements — there are so many hot sauces, wing sauces, and barbecue sauces out there that are gluten-free, paleo, etc. The main component of hot peppers is capsaicin. Capsaicin actually works with your body and mind to make you feel happy. It’s also good for reducing swelling and can relieve arthritic joint pain. If you have high blood pressure, check with your doctor before eating too many hot peppers because they can actually raise the blood pressure in some people.

Tapioca is a starch that comes from the cassava plant. It’s not really a flour in the traditional sense; it’s grain and gluten free. It’s good for your circulation and your digestion. Oftentimes I will make recipes with tapioca flour — it seems to crisp things up well — it certainly works well on this chicken.

Garlic is amazing in its antiviral and antibacterial capabilities. Garlic is actually a Chinese herb (Da Suan). It’s used to kill toxins and parasites and also to reduce swelling in the body. Sometimes it can even be used topically on skin disorders. It’s what I call a great “A” herb: anesthetic, antibacterial, anti fungal, antioxidant, antiviral, etc…. When I have a cold I will actually make a garlic concoction in my blender and drink it — it works wonders!

Strawberries are good for your heart and they are great at reducing plaque in your mouth. They will make you feel better if you have an annoying dry cough or if you feel bloated from eating too much…

If you know me, you know I almost always add raw Chinese herbs to my sauces while they are cooking. This time I added some Bai Zhu. Bai Zhu can be good if you are feeling run down and bloated (and I am!).

Spicy Crispy Chicken

Spicy Crispy Chicken
Author: 
Recipe type: Entree, Chicken, Dinner, Poultry
Cuisine: inspired by: Host The Toast
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
 
This chicken is so crispy that it tastes fried -- but it's not. The spicy sauce has a sweetness from strawberries -- this is amazing and simple and healthy!
Ingredients
  • 8 boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 cup tapioca flour (you can buy it here)
  • sea salt and black pepper
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
  • ⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Raw Chinese herbs (optional) (I used Bai Zhu)
  • For sauce:
  • ½ cup hot sauce or Buffalo wing sauce (these are my favorite hot sauces)
  • 3 tsp minced garlic
  • ¼ cup vegetable or chicken broth
  • ½ cup strawberry preserves (I use this one)
Instructions
  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Convection setting, or 425 regular bake setting.
  2. Line a baking sheet with foil and place a rack on top of the foil.
  3. In a pie plate or shallow bowl, mix together the tapioca flour, a generous amount of salt and pepper, smoked paprika, turmeric, and cayenne. Stir until mixed.
  4. Pour the oil into a second dish.
  5. Dip each piece of chicken into the oil and flip over until coated, then dip into the flour mixture.
  6. Place the pieces as they are dredged onto the rack.
  7. Bake the chicken until it's crispy and cooked through. Mine took 35 minutes on the Convection setting.
  8. Meanwhile, make the sauce by stirring the ingredients in a small pot and then letting it simmer for about 20 minutes.
  9. Remove the chicken from the oven and either coat in the sauce or pass the sauce on the side. Enjoy!

Spicy Crispy Chicken

Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

Stuffed sweet potatoes are a great go-to last minute dinner — stuff them with whatever makes you happy!

Stuffed Butternut Squast (lr edit)-0126

I was in the kitchen and I had no clue what to make for dinner. It’s not that I didn’t have any ideas, it’s that I was feeling kind of lazy (OK, more than kind of lazy) and I didn’t want to go to the market. But, as I was looking around, I really felt that everything I was in the mood for required an outing, which required more energy than I was willing to put forth.

I had a few sweet potatoes left over from Thanksgiving. And these were no ordinary sweet potatoes. These tubers were almost as big as my head. I mean, obscenely huge. It was time to get them off of my counter (I mean, they were taking up so much room and I needed the space…), so I poked them with holes and roasted them in the oven. For a long time. They were so big that it took about an hour and a half for them to be done!

While they were cooking, I had a lot of time to create a stuffing.  I’ll admit that some my incentive came from my desire to forage within the confines of my kitchen so I could avoid having to put my coat on to go outside… And, let me tell you, this recipe is a keeper. Butternut squash, tomatoes, sage, pomegranate seeds, avocado, jalapeños… sooooooooo good!

Feel free to use creative license with this recipe. Use whatever you have in your fridge. I finished mine off with a drizzle of spicy sriracha mayonnaise… this, I highly recommend…

Butternut squash tomatoes sage on tray (lr edit)-0094

These stuffed sweet potatoes are delicious and good for you…there are some really amazing ingredients:

Sweet potatoes are good for your digestive system. They can be good for both constipation and diarrhea. These orange gems also help rid your body of excess water, are good for breast health, help people with diabetes and actually can help ease night blindness. In olden times, it was common in China to rub mashed sweet potatoes on poison insect bites to remove the toxins. I haven’t tried this, but if you see me looking a tad orange, this will be why…

Butternut squash is more than just a delicious vegetable; it’s really good for you. It’s a good fever reducer, it can lessen stomach pain and it can be a comfort during pregnancy when the baby feels like she’s doing acrobatics. It’s also rich in carotenoids and Vitamin B6. This means it’s good for your heart and can help lower bad cholesterol. And, because butternut squash can help reduce inflammation in the body, it benefits almost everyone.

Avocados are one of my favorite foods, both for their health benefits and because they taste great. In Chinese medicine, some practitioners recommend avocados to raise the sperm count. I like them because they are good for anemia, dry skin, palpitations and hot flashes due to menopause.

Pomegranate seeds nourish the blood. In Chinese medicine, we know that many illnesses and conditions are caused by the body making poor quality blood. Pomegranate seeds are great at helping the body make good quality blood. They are also good to combat diarrhea, anemia and incontinence.

Jalapenos contain capsaicin which has anti-bacterial, anti-carcinogenic and anti-diabetic properties. They are also rich in vitamins A, C and E. In Chinese medicine, we know that eating bitter and spicy foods can keep the body warm in the winter and can help get rid of an infection. Spicy foods can also help tremendously with certain types of arthritis and can benefit heart function.

Stuffed Sweet Potato (white background)-0149

 

Stuffed Sweet Potatoes With Butternut Squash, Avocado, And Jalapeños
Author: 
Recipe type: Stuffed Sweet Potatoes, main course
Cuisine: Vegetarian
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: serves 2
 
These sweet potatoes are stuffed with butternut squash, avocado, tomatoes, jalapeños, and pomegranate seeds... they make for an awesome simple and healthy vegetarian meal.
Ingredients
  • 1 large sweet potato
  • 1 lb cubed butternut squash
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes
  • 7 fresh sage leaves
  • 1 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • sea salt
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, sliced
  • ½ of an avocado, diced
  • 14 cup pomegranate seeds
  • ¼ cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp sriracha
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Prick the sweet potato all over with a fork and roast it in the oven until it's done (my sweet potato was so huge that it took 1-1/2 hours in the oven!)
  3. Place the squash, tomatoes, and sage on a baking tray. Drizzle with oil and sprinkle with salt. Toss to combine and spread out in a single layer.
  4. Place this tray in the oven and roast until the squash is tender and the tomatoes start to caramelize, about 35 minutes (depending on the size of your squash cubes).
  5. Make the sriracha mayo by mixing together the mayo and sriracha in a small bowl.
  6. When the potatoes are done, remove them from the oven, scoop out a little of the insides if you like, then fill or top with the squash tomato mixture, the avocado, jalapeños, and pomegranate seeds.
  7. Drizzle with the spicy mayo.
  8. Enjoy!