30-Minute Recipe: A Fresh Take on Hot and Sour Soup

WITH THIS RECIPE, chef Brandon Jew puts his spin on a Chinese American classic. This version skips the cornstarch that typically gives hot and sour soup a somewhat viscous consistency. The result is surprisingly delicate but also comfortingly familiar. “This isn’t traditional,” Mr. Jew said. “But it honors traditional flavors.”

The more flavorful the stock you start with, of course, the better the soup. Celery, fennel, leeks and ginger infuse the broth as it simmers, and Mr. Jew calls for seasoning assertively at the very end of cooking with white pepper, distilled white vinegar and Chinese black vinegar. “The hot comes from the pepper,” he said. “The sour comes from the vinegars.”

Taste and tweak to get it right. “The hot plays off the sour a little different with every batch,” Mr. Jew said. “You have to adjust both to build a balance in tandem. When you add more sour, you’ll need more pepper.” During crab season in the Bay Area, he adds a little fresh crab—delicious, but hardly mandatory. Spooned over cubes of tofu and seared mushrooms, finished with a scattering of sliced scallions, the soup is bracing, satisfying and fresh.

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