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Egg drop soup is a soup which is made by making a basic broth, typically chicken, and then adding beaten eggs slowly into the broth to create shreds or strips of cooked egg in the finished product. There are a number of variations on egg drop soup, from extremely simple soups which just have eggs, pepper, and broth, to more complex versions with a plethora of vegetables and chunks of meat or tofu. Egg drop soup is very easy to make at home, and it is a pleasant variation on classic chicken soup.
Many people associate egg drop soup with Chinese cuisine, where it is also known as egg flower soup, in a reference to the flower-like shapes which can be created by the cooked egg. However, versions of this soup can be found in other cultures as well; the Greeks, for example, make avgolemono soup with eggs, chicken broth, and lemon, and chicken soups with egg are common in Germany and France as well. In all cases, the basic technique for making the soup is the same.
To make a basic egg drop soup, heat chicken or vegetable broth in a sturdy saucepan. If you want to add ingredients like shredded meat, tofu, vegetables, and so forth, cook them in the broth and then strain them out so that the broth is clear when you add the egg; you can add these ingredients in after the egg has cooked.
Once the broth is hot, turn off the heat and pour a scrambled egg into the broth while stirring gently. Some people find that pouring the egg through a fork yields long strands of egg, rather than the clumps which can result from pouring too quickly. Ultimately, it usually takes several tries to perfect the egg pouring technique, and many people develop their own versions. Stir the soup in only one direction as you add the egg, to ensure that you do not loop strands of egg back on themselves. Once the egg is cooked, you can add other ingredients back in, along with spices such as pepper.
Serve your egg drop soup hot. Many people enjoy this soup as an appetizer before a larger meal, although you can also make it into a main course on a cold winter day. Feel free to experiment with additional ingredients and seasoning; egg drop soup can run the gamut from bland to spicy, with a wide range of inclusions from rice to chrysanthemum flowers.
In some European countries, the tradition used to be to have soup before the entree on Sundays, holidays or any other formal occasion. The soup, or rather broth, was either made from chicken or beef (mostly bony parts with very little meat). Also, carrots and celery would be added to the broth to add flavor and then eaten separately or discarded. Then, to the broth, some fine pasta would be added, like angel hair, or some other miniature pasta that cooks quickly. For variety, rice might have been substituted, and of course eggs on occasion.
When I make egg drop soup I add a little flour to the eggs, making the mixture a bit thicker, and it also helps eliminate air bubbles. I slowly move the mixture back and forth as I slowly pour it into the soup.