Notes: Grace Young's parents make their own broth with chicken, water, and fresh ginger, but canned chicken broth simmered with fresh ginger works well too. If cloud ears and lily buds are unavailable, substitute 1 cup finely shredded cabbage and 1 cup thinly sliced mushrooms and skip step 1; add cabbage and mushrooms to broth in step 4. You can prepare the soup through step 4 up to 1 day ahead; cool, cover, and chill. Reheat, covered, over high heat, then continue with step 5.
1/3 cup dried cloud ears (1/2 oz.), optional (see notes)
1/3 cup dried lily buds (3/4 oz.), optional (see notes)
8 ounces firm tofu
4 ounces boned pork butt or loin, fat trimmed
1/2 cup canned sliced bamboo shoots
1 1/2 quarts fat-skimmed chicken broth (see notes)
6 slices (1/4 in. thick) fresh ginger
3 tablespoons cornstarch
3 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 large egg
1/3 cup minced green onions (including green tops)
1 1/4 teaspoons sugar
3/4 teaspoon white pepper
How to Make It
Rinse cloud ears and lily buds under cool running water. Place in a small bowl, cover with cool water, and soak until soft, 15 to 20 minutes; drain. Pinch out and discard any hard spots from cloud ears, then rinse again; tear ears into 1/2-inch pieces. Remove and discard hard ends from lily buds; tie a knot in the center of each bud.
While cloud ears and lily buds are soaking, rinse and drain tofu; cut into 1/2-inch cubes. Rinse pork and pat dry; cut into 1/4-inch-thick matchstick-size pieces about 2 inches long. Rinse and drain bamboo shoots; cut lengthwise into 1/4-inch-wide strips.
In a 3- to 4-quart pan over high heat, bring broth and ginger to a boil; reduce heat, cover, and simmer to blend flavors, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove and discard ginger.
Stir in cloud ears, lily buds, tofu, pork, and bamboo shoots and bring to a boil over high heat. In a small bowl, mix cornstarch and vinegar until smooth; stir into boiling broth mixture and continue stirring until it boils again, 1 to 2 minutes.
In a small bowl, beat egg with a fork to blend. Remove soup from heat; immediately stir in egg, green onions, sugar, and pepper. Pour into a large bowl.
Recipes adapted from The Wisdom of the Chinese Kitchen: Classic Family Recipes for Celebration and Healing (Simon Schuster, New York, 1999) by Grace Young