When you see the words hot and sour soup, you'll probably think of a Chinese soup. Back when I would make a soup of the day, every day, one of my standbys was an hot and sour soup with mushrooms inspired by Eastern European flavors like paprika and cabbage or root vegetables. It's a great way to use honey mushrooms, which are one of the best wild mushrooms for soup.
If you're looking for the hot and sour soup of Chinese-American restaurant fame, see my Hot and Sour Soup with Wood Ear Mushrooms.
How to make it
This is a simple soup with cabbage and vegetables, with two special techniques to mention.
Searing a whole piece of meat
The first tip that you can use for many different soups like this is searing a whole piece of meat instead of individual cubes for soup. It's hard to brown individual pieces of meat in a pan, but easy to brown a single large chunk. The browning of the meat adds flavor to the broth you won't get anywhere else.
Thickening the soup with honey mushrooms
The second trick is the honey mushrooms or Pidpenky as they're known in Russian. Honey mushrooms are special in that they thicken the soup without adding flour or cornstarch. It's not a slimy texture, but a velvety, pleasant one.
Adjusting the flavor
Seasoning a soup with vinegar to taste may seem odd, but it's an old chef trick that really brightens up soups. It's especially good with cabbage-based soups. Add the vinegar slowly and stir, taste and season again until it tastes good to you.
Hot and Sour Venison Soup with Honey Mushrooms
- 1 lbs venison, beef or lamb, in one piece Shoulder, neck, or shanks
- ¼ cup grapeseed or canola oil for browning the venison
- 3 cloves garlic sliced
- 2 tablespoon sweet paprika
- 1 cup diced white onion
- 3 oz Celery diced
- 3 oz Carrot halved and cut into slices
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 6 cups chicken stock or water
- 1 lb green cabbage you could use napa or savoy cabbage too
- 1 pinch crushed red pepper flakes
- ¼ cup rice wine vinegar plus more to taste
- 8 oz fresh or frozen honey mushrooms trimmed of their stems, leaving about ½ inch remaining below the cap
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- 2 crushed juniper berries 1 dried bay leaf, 10 peppercorns, 2 allspice berries, 3 cloves optional
- Fresh herb of your choice for garnishing such as chives or fresh dill
- ½ cup sour cream optional
- Season the meat liberally with salt and pepper and allow to rest in the fridge uncovered for at least a few hours, preferably overnight. This helps create the best crust.
- Get a 6 qt stock or pasta pot, begin by heating the pan with half of the oil, when the oil begins to smoke lightly, add the venison and cook on medium high heat until nicely brown and colored on all sides.
- Remove the venison to a cutting board to rest, then cut into 1 inch pieces for stew.
- Add the onion, celery, carrot and garlic to the pot and cook, stirring occasionally until its translucent, add the tomato paste, stir and cook for a minute more, then add the water or stock and remaining ingredients and bring to a simmer.
- Cook the soup for 1.5 hours. After that, the meat should be tender and soft. Finish the soup by adjusting the salt and pepper to taste, along with the vinegar.
- The soup should have just a touch of acid from the vinegar. After you've added the ¼ cup, if you think it could use a little more, add a splash, stir, and taste, and continue adjusting until it tastes good to you.
- Serve garnished with some chives or chopped dill, parsley would be just fine too.