My first vegan cookbook that I ever bought was Veganomicon, by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero. It quickly became my stand-by cooking Bible, and now sports the hallmark of every well-loved cookbook: stained, dog-eared pages that falls open at all frequently used recipes. This was also the first cookbook that started my weird habit of sitting down with a cup of coffee and reading a cookbook like a good novel, cover to cover, tabbing all the recipes I wanted to try. This soup, Hot and Sour Soup with Wood Ear Mushrooms and Napa Cabbage (page 143) was one that caught my attention but took a bachlorette party to produce. Quick, easy, and versatile, this soup is perfect for the winter blahs or for the spring thaw. Or for any season, really!
I have yet to find wood ear mushrooms, so I use the dried mushroom variety pack from Superstore. Not a lover of mushrooms, dried mushrooms are fantastic. Not only do they taste like something, but they have texture too! You actually have to chew them to eat them, and they quickly because a pantry staple after this recipe. I have also thrown in a variety of vegetables in here – from bok choy (above) to Chinese broccoli (also fantastic steamed by itself!) to whatever is lying around the fridge. It is a change of pace from the chillies and the noodle soups, and makes the kitchen smell like a little Chinese hole-in-the-wall restaurant. Although promised to be “completely inauthentic”, I still use the boat spoons to slurp it up! It freezes well, if you have more restraint than I and have enough leftovers to freeze!
Extra bonus: This soup also changed my omnivore parent’s attitude toward tofu. Before the word “tofu” was accompanied with a nose wrinkle and pronounced “toFU ICK”, it is now purchased occasionally with an open mind. If that’s not a ringing endorsement, I don’t know what is.