Chinese Bean Curd Soup with Cellophane Noodles and Straw Mushrooms

Asian-style soups can be created in a quick burst of inspiration and little forethought. ”There is nothing like a bowl of hot soup, its wisp of aromatic steam teasing the nostrils into quivering anticipation.” —Louis P. de Gouy

Serves: 4 to 6

  •  1 4-ounce package cellophane (bean-thread) noodles
  • 1 15-ounce can straw mushrooms, with liquid
  • 4 cups strong vegetable stock, or 4 cups water
    with 2 vegetable bouillon cubes, or
    2 15-ounce cans vegetable broth
  • 6 ounces fresh spinach, preferably triple-washed,
    stemmed, rinsed, and coarsely chopped
  • 8 ounces soft or medium-firm tofu, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a heatproof container, combine the cellophane noodles with enough hot water to cover. Let stand, covered, for 15 minutes, or until al dente. Drain well, then place on a cutting board and chop in several directions until the noodles are fairly consistently short, about 2 inches in length.

Meanwhile, combine the straw mushrooms and their liquid with the vegetable stock in a soup pot. Bring to a simmer, then add the spinach and the tofu. Simmer briefly, just until the spinach wilts and the tofu is heated through.

Remove from the heat, stir in the noodles, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve at once.

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