My soup story in today's Taste features the awesome hot-and-sour soup at Big Bowl (pictured, above, in a photo by my colleague Tom Wallace). The restaurant's founder, Bruce Cost, published a Big Bowl cookbook in 2000. It contains a make-at-home version of the restaurant's hot-and-sour soup. It's not quite the same -- the restaurant nurtures its own pork stock, daily, while this recipe calls for widely available chicken stock. But it's close. Give it a shot.

Oh, and Cost, one of the nation's leading authorities on Asian cuisines, bottles his refreshing fresh ginger ales.. Pick them up Kowalski's, Cub Foods, United Noodles, Lunds and Byerly's and Caribou Coffee.




Makes 6 servings.

Note: Adapted from “Big Bowl Noodles and Rice” by Bruce Cost (William Morrow).

For soup:

1 c. matchstick-cut pork loin

3 tbsp. soy sauce, divided

Hot water

24 small dried tree ears (black fungus)

6 dried shiitake mushrooms (black mushrooms)

6 tbsp. red wine vinegar

1 tbsp. kosher salt

1 ½ tsp. sugar

3 tbsp. peanut oil

3/4 c. matchstick-cut bamboo shoots

6 c. chicken stock (or pork stock, if available)

1 c. matchstick-cut firm tofu

3 tbsp. cornstarch, mixed with 2 tablespoons water

3 eggs, slightly beaten with a few drops of sesame oil

For garnish:

1 ½ tsp. dark Asian sesame oil

1 ½ tsp. freshly ground white pepper

3 tbsp. sliced green onions

3 tbsp. cilantro leaves


In a small bowl, combine pork with 1½ tablespoons soy sauce. Cover and refrigerate.

In a medium bowl, combine dried tree ears and mushrooms. Pour hot water over mushrooms, enough to cover. Let stand 30 minutes, then drain water. Cut off and discard hard mushroom stems, slice across mushroom caps and reserve.

In a small bowl, combine vinegar, remaining soy sauce, salt and sugar and reserve.

Heat a wok or a heavy Dutch oven over high heat. Add peanut oil and, when hot, quickly saute pork until meat changes color. Add tree ears, mushrooms and bamboo shoots. Saute briefly. Add chicken stock (or pork stock) and bring to a boil. Add tofu and vinegar mixture. Stir cornstarch-water mixture and add to wok. Reduce heat. Using a spoon, stir soup slowly in one direction and pour in beaten egg in a thin stream.

Ladle soup into bowls. Drizzle with the sesame oil, season with pepper and sprinkle with green onions and cilantro.

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