Probably the simplest soup is the clear broth — what the French call consommé — which I am not a fan of. I am, however, a big fan of clear broth with strands of egg floating in it. Yes, the egg drop soup. The most basic is just clear broth and egg. To that, a wide array of ingredients can be added to create more complex soups. The Chinese bird’s nest soup, for instance, is an egg drop soup. So is the crab and corn soup. In short, once you have mastered the art of making egg drop soup, you have a huge chest of soup recipes at your disposal.
But what makes a good egg drop soup? Some say that the true test is how wispy the egg strands are.
Others say it is a matter of preference because thicker strands of egg in the clear broth can be just as satisfying.
Here are a few tricks to master the art of making egg drop soup — with wispy egg strands or with chunkier ones.
1. It always starts with the very best broth. I prefer homemade. Always.
2. The eggs have to be beaten well so that the mixture has a uniform consistency.
3. The broth has to be very hot. I prefer to pour the eggs right after turning off the heat, not while the broth is still simmering because I want the eggs to barely set — the strands are lighter and softer that way.
4. The beaten eggs have to be poured in a very thin stream.
Now, what’s the difference in procedure if one wants wispy egg strands rather than chunky ones? Swirl the broth. While the liquid is in motion, pour in the beaten eggs in a thin stream. As soon as the eggs are in the broth, stir lightly with a fork.
And if one prefers chunkier egg strands? No swirling. Pour in the beaten eggs in a thin stream. When all of the egg mixture is in the broth, count five to ten seconds, depending on how thick you want the egg stands, before stirring the broth lightly with a fork.
Try it. See the difference.