The line between home cooking and restaurant cooking can get blurry at times. There’s a whole subset of restaurants that tries to serve – or at least convince us they’re serving – homestyle cooking. And in kitchens around the world, home cooks obsess over recreating chef-driven restaurant meals. But there’s another style of restaurant cooking that’s often overlooked at home, not complex or seasonal or locally sourced. Just humble fare, but soul-satisfyingly comforting. This is one of those recipes.
Homemade (but restaurant-style) egg drop soup is one of our favorite dishes in our arsenal, so we were amazed to realize we had never shared it here. Most likely because versions of it are all over the Internet. But this simple, restoring dish is something you should be making – when you’ve had a long day, when someone is under the weather, when you want to impress the heck out of guests by producing this golden bowl of magic in under 10 minutes, or just because it’s really fast and really good.
This dish has very few ingredients, meaning that each needs to stand up for itself. Homemade chicken stock and an organic egg will taste better than chicken stock from a box and a factory egg – but the latter will be pretty darn satisfying, too.
One of the things I think about when making this is structure. Adding a bit of cornstarch to the gently simmering stock thickens it slightly and gives it the structure to support the threads of egg; and adding a bit of cornstarch to the egg similarly gives the strands of egg more structure within the broth.
Egg Drop Soup
Serves 1 to 2 (can be doubled, tripled, quadrupled…)
1-1/2 cups chicken broth
3 teaspoons cornstarch, divided
1/8 teaspoon sesame oil
salt, to taste
Optional: cubed silken tofu, finely minced scallions, cooked chicken, miso paste, fish sauce, black pepper
1. In a cup or little bowl, dissolve 2 teaspoons of cornstarch in a little water. Break the egg into another small bowl. Sprinkle the remaining 1 teaspoon of cornstarch over the egg and beat the egg so that the cornstarch dissolves into it – should just take half a minute.
2. Bring the chicken broth to a simmer in a saucepan. When it starts to move, spoon two or three tablespoons of broth into the dissolved cornstarch, to warm it up. Then pour the cornstarch mixture into the soup and stir with a whisk. Stir until the soup becomes clear again (meaning the cornstarch is cooked) and the soup becomes slightly thickened. You don’t want a thick glop – just a bit of thickening. If it doesn’t look thick enough to you, add a little more cornstarch in the same fashion.
3. When the stock is ready, and moving at a gentle simmer, pour in the egg. The way that works the best for me is to place a fork at the lip of the cup and pour the egg through the tines. Stir it immediately, just once or twice. Turn off the heat – the egg is cooked. Stir in the sesame oil, adjust seasoning with salt, if needed, and that’s it. Garnish with scallions, if you like. Serve.
Variations on a delicious theme. If you like, you can add some cubed silken tofu – put the cold tofu in the bowl and pour the hot soup over it and it will heat nicely. We’ve also done things like add bits of cooked chicken, a grating of black pepper, and even a tad of white miso paste or Vietnamese fish sauce stirred in during the heating-the-stock phase. All of those additional things are nice, but just the basic is delightfully enough. Add this to your comfort food rotation.
Related post on The Blue Kitchen: Italian chicken stew