Hot and Sour Soup

This is a wonderful hearty soup and vastly better than what you would get in your average Chinese take away. 
The only down side, is that it does take some time to pull all the ingredients together, so I like to make a double portion, so I can enjoy it the next day. If you don’t want leftovers, then just cut the recipe in half. 
This recipe is an adaptation of a recipe by Betty Foo, so let me give credit where it’s due. I wanted to make it vegetarian and if you omit the eggs, it will be 100% vegan. It’s very healthy and perfect if you’re feeling under the weather. 
A few ingredients, dried lily buds (sometimes referred to as “flowers”), dried black fungus(wood ears) and dried shiitake mushrooms will likely require a visit to your local Asian grocery, but once you buy the dried ingredients, they will keep very well in a glass container in the cupboard.
1/2 cup dried Lily Bulbs, soaked and then the tough end removed, discarded and bulb sliced in half. 
1/2 cup dried Black Fungus, soaked, then cut out the hard stem and slice thinly. 
1 cup sliced dried Shiitake Mushrooms, soaked and remove any hard stems and slice thinly. 
1 container of Extra Firm Tofu, cubed to 1/4-1/2 inch. 
3 32oz containers of low sodium Vegetable Stock
4 cloves Garlic, crushed, but left whole. 
8 oz light Soy Sauce
2 oz dark Soy Sauce
3/4 cup distilled White Vinegar 
2 tsp White Pepper, ground
2 tsp Cayenne Pepper, use just 1 tsp if you want it to have less heat.
2 Tbsp fresh Ginger Root, grated
4 Tbsp Cornstarch mixed with 1/2 cup of water. 
2 Eggs, lightly beaten
Green Onions for garnish
Toasted Sesame Oil
Begin by reconstituting all of the dried mushrooms in warm water for about 15-20 minutes. It is much easier if you reconstitute the lily bulbs in their own bowl. The black fungus and the shiitake mushrooms can be mixed together in the same bowl with warm water. Once they are soft, drain and then slice them accordingly.
Bring your vegetable broth up to a boil in a large pot, then drop the temp down to a soft boil and add in the garlic and allow it to infuse the broth. Remove the garlic and add the mushrooms into the broth, and then drop the temperature down to a brisk simmer. 
Add your cubed tofu, light and dark soy sauce, distilled white vinegar, white pepper, cayenne pepper and grated ginger root. Let this gently simmer for 10 minutes. Adjust for taste add more distilled vinegar if it needs more bite.
Take the cornstarch and water mixture and gradually add it a bit at a time, stirring until it is completely incorporated and the soup has slightly thickened. In addition to thickening the soup, it gives it a silky texture and mouthfeel.
Chop your green onions and set aside. Gradually add in your lightly beaten eggs, stirring constantly until they set up. 
Ladle into bowls, top with green onions and a few dashes of toasted sesame oil.
Serves 8

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