“Peppered vinegar:” hot and sour soup!

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In various Chinese regions, such as Sichuan and Hunan provinces (which would likely fight over the claim to its origins), it translates to something like “peppered vinegar soup:” hot and sour soup is a welcome dish for the cold weather we’re having. It’s a welcome comfort food, too, at any time.

A highly regional dish in its ingredients, the soup is usually meat based and has a variety of other delicacies from mushrooms (traditionally cloud ear), bamboo shoots, ginger, tofu, carrots, bean curd or tofu. And often white pepper.

Depending on where you go, the soup can have varying degrees of spice and puckering tartness (as well as sometimes a touch too much corn-starch thickening), but it’s a great dish for a balance of flavours to warm up with in frigid weather.

Here are a few hot and sour soup suggestions for take-out:

Mama Jean Kitchen, Cambridge
Choose from chicken, pork and shrimp.

Crystal Palace, Waterloo
An old-school classic in the Waterloo city centre, the menu says the hot and sour soup with chicken is “hot and spicy.” That’s clear enough.

Hem’s Hakka, Kitchener
A couple of sizes of soup with veg, chicken or shrimp (pictured above). This one was a recent favourite of mine (read more about Hem’s here).

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