The story behind the “tomato and egg-drop soup” isn’t extraordinary, but it is important to my heritage and family. The dish I chose is a vegetarian, savoury soup, that incorporates tomatoes and eggs into the mixture.
The dish originated in China, where my mother was born, but moved when she was young with her family. In Cantonese, the soup is called: “番茄蛋汤” (Fānqié dàn tāng) and it translates to “Tomato Egg Soup”. It was, and maybe still is, my mother’s favourite dish.
For my mom, her Gong Gong (her mother’s father) would always cook in the small apartment she and her family grew up in after immigrating to Canada. It was her favourite thing her Gong Gong would make. She only learned how to make it after she finished university since her only purpose growing up was to study, and cooking wasn’t her chore.
We embrace our culture's food because they weren’t allowed to return to China often, and our culture wasn’t as accepted, so the food helped keep us connected. I was young when I first tried it, and I think it was my first love. And you know what they say, you never forget your first love.
Occasionally, my mother and I would go to Farm Boy and grab a heap of tomatoes, eggs and everything else to make the soup. The soup can be accompanied by rice, Chinese donuts (which are fried pieces of bread), and dim sum.
Often, if I can’t figure out what to have for lunch at home, I’ll heat a can of tomato soup and whisk the egg in. I called it the “lazy tomato and egg”. While there are different variations depending on the person, I prefer the homemade versions my mother and I make.
2 tablespoons oil 1-2 tomatoes (diced) 1 cup chicken stock 2 cups water (or more chicken stock) 2 teaspoons light soy sauce 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil 1/4 teaspoon white pepper 1 egg (beaten well) 1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch (mixed with 2 tablespoons/30ml water) 1 scallion (finely chopped) salt (to taste)
Heat the oil in a soup pot (or wok) over medium-low heat and cover the surface area. Add the tomato chunks and stir-fry for 5 minutes until the tomatoes are softened and cooked thoroughly.
Add chicken stock, water, soy sauce, sesame oil, white pepper and salt to the pot or wok. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat so the soup is simmering with the lid on. Quickly beat the egg in a small, separate bowl and prepare the cornstarch slurry in another separate bowl.
Use a ladle to swirl the soup in a whirlpool motion slowly. Keep swirling as you pour in the cornstarch slurry until well-mixed. Now pour a thin stream of egg into the middle of the whirlpool as you slowly swirl the soup. The egg should have the egg-drop effect and form a flowing-like trail.
Serve hot or at room temperature. If using, ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with chopped scallion to your liking.