The “flower” refers to the soup’s characteristic soft, wispy ribbons of egg, formed by slowly pouring in beaten eggs near the end of the cooking process. They add color and texture to the simple chicken broth base, slightly thickened with cornstarch and made fragrant with ginger, scallions, and white pepper.
Egg drop soup is very adaptable, so feel free to throw in other ingredients, such as quick-cooking vegetables or your protein of choice. In this version, diced tomatoes add some welcome brightness.
This recipe calls for making your own basic chicken stock for the base, which is easy if you plan ahead: When cooking other dishes that require cutting chicken meat off the bone, leave a bit of meat on the bones and save them for your future stock. Store-bought or previously homemade chicken stock works great, too.
Finally, two pieces of advice for the perfect eggy swirls: Separate your yolks and whites before streaming them in, to create ribbons of two distinct colors for a prettier presentation; and add a dash of rice vinegar to both, for super soft and silky results.
Tomato Egg Drop Soup
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
For the Chicken Stock (see Note)
- 12 cups water, divided
- 1/2 pound chicken bones, some meat attached
- 6 thin slices ginger
For the Soup
- 6 eggs
- 1 teaspoon rice vinegar, divided
- 2 tablespoons extra-light olive oil
- 5 tomatoes
- 4 stalks scallions, white and green parts separated
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon white pepper
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch
- 3 tablespoons water
- Drizzle of sesame oil
Make the chicken stock: In a large pot over high heat, add 6 cups of water and the chicken bones. Cover, bring to a boil, and let boil for about 3 minutes. Drain and discard the water; this will remove blood and other impurities, and any gamey flavor.
Return the bones to the pot over high heat, and add the remaining 6 cups of water and the ginger. Cover, bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, prep your other ingredients: Separate the eggs, dividing the yolks and whites into two bowls. Whisk 1/2 teaspoon rice vinegar into the yolks, then whisk 1/2 teaspoon rice vinegar into the whites.
Cut the tomatoes into 1-inch cubes. Mince the scallions, keeping the white and green parts separate.
In a small pan over low heat, add the extra-light olive oil and the white parts of the scallions. Cook until aromatic, about 1 minute. Set aside.
Now, make the soup: After the chicken stock has simmered for 20 minutes, discard the chicken bones, ginger, and any impurities.
Turn the heat to high. Add the tomatoes and cook until softened, about 3 minutes. Skim off any foam. Add the scallion oil and season with salt, sugar, and white pepper to taste.
In a small bowl, make a cornstarch slurry by mixing together 3 tablespoons cornstarch and 3 tablespoons water until smooth. Pour the cornstarch slurry into the soup in a circular motion and stir until thickened.
Bring the soup back to a boil. Slowly pour in the egg whites in a circular motion, then do the same with the egg yolks. Stir gently. Top with the green parts of the scallions and a drizzle of sesame oil, and serve.
Note: You can also use 6 cups store-bought or previously homemade chicken stock, and use less salt to season the soup as needed.
Recipe by CiCi Li, the producer and presenter of “CiCi’s Food Paradise” on NTD. Join her in discovering the world of Asian home cooking at CiCiLi.tv