Every college student relates to at least one of these scenarios: It’s 11:30pm, you have a paper due at 9am tomorrow, and you still haven’t started it; you need something to wake you up and keep you going for the night but if you drank another cup of coffee you’d be too jittery to focus. Or maybe instead it’s 2am and you’re stumbling home after a night out with your friends–you want good food fast but there’s nothing in your refrigerator except a couple of eggs and half empty condiments. Whatever the situation, you can’t be bothered with anything fussy or complicated. Not to worry, there’s a soup for that!
Egg drop soup (Mandarin: 蛋花湯; Dànhuātāng egg flower soup) has been around for centuries. Simple yet satisfying, it’s no wonder this soup has remained a staple of Chinese households throughout history. It is especially popular in American Chinese takeout restaurants. But egg drop soup is incredibly easy to make and only requires a few ingredients. Plus, the essential technique can be used in other recipes to cheaply add more protein and substance to simple vegetable soups. Egg drop soup is full of protein and healthy fats so it will nourish your body and taste good whether studying, partying, or watching movies on a rainy night.
Because this is a simple, easy, late-night soup, there are no precise measurements involved. Other than a basic 1:1 ratio of water and egg per serving, everything is to taste.
You will need:
- one cup of water per serving
- one egg per serving
- chicken bouillon to taste, usually a few teaspoons or so
- Or replace the water with chicken broth/stock for better flavor; you could also use vegetable broth if preferred
- any additional flavorings or toppings as desired
- I usually add sesame oil, soy sauce, black pepper, and scallions; you could add tofu, fried wontons, chili oil, red pepper flakes, leafy greens, etc–there is no wrong answer here!
- cornstarch, if preferred, one teaspoon or so
- This thickens the soup slightly, it is not a traditional addition but many American Chinese restaurants include it
In a small pot, boil the water and add the chicken bouillon plus any liquid seasonings or condiments that you want. If you want to add cornstarch, put a little bit of the hot broth (around a quarter cup or so, one ladle’s worth) in a small bowl and stir in the cornstarch; pour the slurried cornstarch into the pot. Prepare any additional toppings.
Essential technique: In the same small bowl, whisk the egg slightly so the yolk and white combine (you can whisk more if you want but it is not strictly necessary). Temper the whisked egg by adding a little bit of the hot broth to the small bowl while stirring constantly. Then, slowly pour the egg mixture into the pot of hot broth while slowly stirring constantly–stir very slow for large egg pieces or a bit more quickly for smaller ones.
That’s it! Ladle the soup into bowls and add as many toppings as you want. Easy and delicious!