This egg drop soup recipe makes an egg flower soup just like your favourite Chinese restaurant does – a velvety yellow soup so dense with creamy egg wisps that it’s almost like a liquid omelette. Slender slices of shitake mushrooms ensure it isn’t! A drizzle of sesame oil, pinch of white pepper and sprinkle of spring onions complete this comforting broth.
This classic egg drop soup recipe will make you an ‘egg flower soup’, as the Chinese name literally translates to, which tastes just like the egg drop soup I grew up eating at our favourite neighbourhood Chinese restaurant in the western suburbs of Sydney, which I imagine tastes very much like a Chinese-American egg drop soup.
Our egg drop soup recipe is this week’s edition of Weekend Eggs, a series of recipes on quintessential egg dishes from around the world, which we launched with Grantourismo back in 2010 with our year-long global grand tour focused on slow, local and experiential travel.
On that trip, we settled places for two weeks at a time to get an insight into how locals lived, and in each place that we stayed, we explored the local food, engaged with local cooks and chefs, and learnt to cook local specialties.
We shared those in Weekend Eggs and another long-running series, The Dish, for which Terence shared the recipes of quintessential dishes he learnt to cook in each place.
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Egg Drop Soup Recipe for Egg Flower Soup Just Like Your Favourite Chinese Restaurant Makes It
Thursday nights were Late Night Shopping Night, which was Chinese Restaurant Night, when I was a kid growing up in the western suburbs of Sydney, and shops were closed on other nights and on Saturday afternoon and Sunday. Those were the days – when we had our work/life balance right!
Thursday night was Chinese Restaurant Night because we went out to do our weekly shopping around 6pm after mum and dad got home from work, and then because we were all so tired from our big outing to the supermarket, we hit one of our two favourite Chinese restaurants opposite the railway station for dinner.
We always started with soup (and ended with fried ice-cream!) and while the selection of main courses varied, we always started with one of a few soups – wonton soup, corn and crab soup or egg drop soup. It was a tough choice. I adored all three. But mum and dad would always ensure they ordered the soups I didn’t choose, in case I changed my mind.
This classic egg drop soup recipe will make you that Chinese restaurant ‘egg flower soup’, as the Chinese name literally translates to, which I grew up eating at our favourite neighbourhood Chinese restaurants.
Egg drop soup is often referred to as a Chinese-American dish, like chop suey and General Tso’s chicken (although that’s actually from Taiwan), however, egg drop soup is found all over China, both in restaurants and cooked at home, and there are probably as many variations as there are cities in China.
In China, the broth is generally thinner than the Chinese-Australian and Chinese-American restaurant egg drop soups, which are thickened with a corn starch slurry while the egg can vary from fine wispy strands that can look almost flower-like to thicker ribbons to a flat egg ‘sheet’.
Egg drop soup recipes served in restaurants tend to vary by region and province in China, while in the home, anything goes. Home cooks might add vegetables that need to be used, such as carrots, which are diced, or leafy greens, while bowls are customised with condiments and garnishes by individuals to suit their taste – just as we would with a bowl or rice porridge or noodles.
Just a couple of tips to making this classic egg drop soup recipe – and they’re important tips if you want to get it right.
Tips to Making this Easy Egg Drop Soup Recipe
I only have a couple of tips to making this classic egg drop soup recipe as it’s really very easy once you get the hang of the egg – and once you decide in what form you like the egg so you can create it as you like.
But, first, a couple of tips to making the corn starch slurry. Prepare the corn starch slurry in a measuring jug using boiling hot water, so you can make sure all the lumps have dissolved.
Don’t add the corn starch directly to the soup as I’ve spotted in some egg drop soup recipes. For starters, that’s not what a slurry is. Make the slurry first and then add the slurry to the soup.
A lot of egg drop soup recipes recommend three tablespoons of corn starch to one litre of water. I personally find this to be a little too thick, which is why I’ve suggested two tablespoons of corn starch to a litre of water.
If it’s not thick enough for you, you can always quickly make another slurry with an additional tablespoon of corn starch and ¼ cup of water. Then if you find it too dense, you can reduce it with more boiling water.
Note that if it’s too dense, the eggs won’t set properly. Also keep in mind that you’ll need to adjust your seasoning.
To create those ‘egg flowers’ (use your imagination), you must stir the soup continuously (some old Chinese cooks swear it must be clockwise), and then add the egg very slowly to the soup at the same time as you’re stirring.
Some Chinese cooks simply dip a large fork or pair of chop sticks into the whisked eggs then drizzle the egg into the soup to create super-wispy trails of egg. For small strands, I’ve spotted cooks using a teaspoon to very slowly drizzle the egg in.
And for larger ribbon-like swirls or even round egg drops, I’ve seen Chinese cooks very slowly pouring the egg from a small jug with spout into the soup. The smaller the better. Take care not to pour or stir too fast otherwise the egg will simply emulsify.
Remember to taste your egg drop soup again and adjust the seasoning if needed, then distribute the soup between bowls, drizzle with sesame oil, sprinkle with white pepper and scatter some more green scallion slices on top and serve immediately.
Egg Drop Soup Recipe
- 1 litre chicken stock - homemade or shop-bought liquid or bouillon
- 1 tbsp sesame oil
- 1 tbsp vinegar
- 2 scallions - finely sliced – separate into white and green slices
- 1 cup shiitake mushrooms - finely sliced
- 1 tsp salt - or to taste
- ½ tsp white pepper - or to taste
- ½ tsp sugar - or to taste
- ½ tsp turmeric - optional
- ½ cup boiling water
- 2 tbsp corn starch - add an additional tablespoon for a denser soup
- 4 eggs - whisked
- 2 scallions - sliced
- sesame oil - to taste
- light soy sauce - to taste
- scallions - sliced
- In a medium soup pot over high heat, bring your chicken stock to a boil, then add the sesame oil, vinegar, slices of white scallion ends, slices of shiitake mushrooms, salt, white pepper, sugar, optional turmeric, then turn the heat to low to take the soup to a simmer. Taste, and adjust the seasoning to suit your palate.
- In a measuring jug, make the corn starch slurry by adding 2 tablespoons of corn starch to half a cup of boiling water, stirring well to completely combine, ensuring any lumps are dissolved. For a denser soup add an additional tablespoon of corn starch, but I don’t recommend more than 3 tablespoons.
- Give the corn starch slurry a final stir before slowly pouring it into the simmering soup, stirring the soup as you do. Simmer for five minutes, stirring occasionally, then leave to sit for a minute and check the consistency of the soup. If it’s too thick, add some boiling water. If it’s not dense enough, make another slurry with ¼ cup of boiling water and 1 tablespoon of corn starch; no more than that as it will be too thick and your eggs won’t set properly.
- To add the egg to the soup, use a large spoon or ladle to slowly stir the soup clockwise, and at the same time dip a large fork or pair of chop sticks into the whisked eggs then drizzle the egg into the soup to create wispy trails of egg; for small strands, use a teaspoon to very slowly drizzle the egg in; or for larger ribbon-like swirls or even round egg drops, slowly pour the egg from a small jug with spout into the soup. Take care not to pour or stir too fast otherwise the egg will emulsify.
- Taste again and adjust the seasoning if needed, then distribute the soup between bowls, drizzle with sesame oil, sprinkle with white pepper and scatter some more green scallion slices on top.
Please do let us know in the comments below if you make this classic egg drop soup recipe as we’d love to know how it turns out for you.