A reader, apparently a food blogger herself (or perhaps an Instagram junkie) e-mailed to ask how I make the vegetables in soup have the appearance of being “suspended” in the broth. One word—starch. Thicken the broth with starch in this shiitake, white asparagus and broccoli egg drop soup to give the soup better texture and to prevent the lighter ingredients from getting lost in the sea of broth.
But what starch? Tapioca starch or corn starch. But NOT flour which will make the broth cloudy. A teaspoonful of starch per three to four cups of broth, depending on how thick you want the broth, is a good ratio to start with.
And remember that you cannot sprinkle the starch directly on the hot soup because it will create lumps. You have to disperse the starch in room temperature water or broth the pour the solution in the hot broth.
Note too that after adding the starch solution, you need to continue cooking the broth for at least seven minutes to make sure that the starch leaves no powdery sensation in the mouth.
The ideal procedure is to bring the broth to the boil, add the starch solution, stir it until the broth is thickened and clear. Then, add the vegetables. That way, the starch and vegetables cook at the same time. By the time the vegetables are done, the starch has cooked through and leave none of that nasty texture in the mouth that feels like you’re sipping powder.
Shiitake, White Asparagus and Broccoli Egg Drop Soup
Reserve half a cup of broth. Pour the rest into a pot and heat to boiling point.
Stir the starch in the reserved broth until completely dispersed. Pour into the broth. Cook, stirring, until the broth is thickened and clear.
If the broth is unseasoned, add salt and pepper at this point. Start with a tablespoon of salt and a quarter teaspoon of pepper. You can add more later, if needed.
Add the sliced shiitake, white asparagus and broccoli to the broth. Stir. Optionally, you may pour in the liquid from the can of asparagus but you may need to add more starch solution to prevent the broth from getting too thin.
Lower the heat, cover the pot and cook the soup for seven to ten minutes.
Taste the soup and add more salt and pepper, if needed.
Turn off the heat. Drizzle the beaten eggs into the soup. Let sit for a few seconds before stirring. If you're more particular about whether the eggs should be wispy or chunky, see two ways to make egg drop soup.