What Exactly Is Egg Drop Soup And What Does It Taste Like?

Chinese egg drop soup in patterned bowl
Chinese egg drop soup in patterned bowl - Whiteaster/Shutterstock

When perusing the menu of a Chinese restaurant, one will often come across an item called egg drop soup or egg flower soup. The name is pretty self-explanatory — soup with egg "dropped" into it. However, it is both as simple as it sounds while being just a little more complicated than it seems.

Many home-cooked Chinese dishes do not call for a long ingredient list, and egg drop soup is a good example. At its heart, all it really requires is a good broth and quality eggs, though added seasonings help pump up the flavor. What makes it egg drop soup is also what makes it finicky. The eggs are not merely beaten and dropped into the liquid but need to be poured in at just the right speed so that they create ribbons (or "flowers", hence the name) of egg that float in the soup. Pour the eggs too quickly and they create large clumps. Pour them too slowly, however, and they will flake and not form into the delicate, long strands so prized in egg drop soups.

As for its taste, egg drop soup will taste like the broth that it is cooked in. This means that the broth has to be as flavorful as possible, tasting exactly how you need it to taste before the eggs are swirled in.

Read more: The 20 Best Egg Brands, Ranked

Flavors And Variations Of Egg Drop Soup In Chinese Cuisine

Hot and sour soup in red bowl with wooden spoon
Hot and sour soup in red bowl with wooden spoon - Waqar Hussain/Getty Images

The liquid of egg drop soup is usually some kind of chicken broth or vegetable stock that has been doctored with condiments like sesame oil and white pepper. It is then thickened with a cornstarch slurry for a smoother mouthfeel. With this as a base, cooks take it in different directions and create distinct dishes with similar techniques.Another soup commonly found on Chinese restaurant menus is hot and sour soup, the "hot" coming from dried chili peppers and ground white pepper and the "sour" via a generous glug of vinegar. This soup also features ribbons of eggs, this time swimming with other ingredients like tofu and various mushrooms. Over in Southeast Asia, especially Malaysia, a type of noodle dish called wat tan hor or ying yong noodles is commonly found in Chinese restaurants. The gravy poured over these noodles also features eggs cooked with the egg drop technique, adding a silky texture to every bite.

Stracciatella, The Italian Cousin

Italian egg drop soup in white dish
Italian egg drop soup in white dish - nesavinov/Shutterstock

Egg drop soup is not just found in China but also in parts of Europe. Its most famous counterpart in the region is stracciatella, or "little shreds." This Italian soup is made much the same way as the Chinese variety, though the eggs tend to be on the flakier side compared to the other's more ribbon-like texture. The biggest difference is that it also contains a significant amount of grated Parmesan cheese, which adds a layer of sharp umami to the soup. Stracciatella soup is so beloved that it inspired the creation of stracciatella ice cream, the shreds there being the melted dark chocolate that immediately solidifies upon contact with the cold milk ice cream and is shredded instantly by the ice cream machine's paddles.

While acknowledging the roots and techniques of egg drop soup, one can move forward and egg drop-ify other soups. The texture of the egg is best appreciated in clearer soups where the visual contrast can be seen, so consider it for your next chicken noodle soup or even to zhuzh up your next can of soup.

Read the original article on Daily Meal.