Lon’s grandma Rose loves Chinese food. Her favorite course is soup and her most favorite Chinese soup is Egg Drop Soup. Her doctors want her to lay off the sodium so Lon’s family hasn’t been taking her to the Chinese restaurants she used to frequent; and of course, that made her sad — I think we can all relate to being told not to eat something. So this week, when I went to cook with my mom, I asked to learn one of my favorite soups: Shi Hu Neo Ro Gung. This translates to West Lake Beef Soup.

I thought Grandma Rose would like to try this authentic Chinese soup (rarely known by the non-Chinese) because it has a white egg drop in it, as well as little bits of beef, so she can get a little more nutrition. We made it low sodium for her and packed individual containers that could be heated easily in the microwave.

East Lake Beef Soup in stacked bowls 2

After making this soup for Grandma I also wanted to share with you. I love that this soup is is light with many subtle flavors. There aren’t any big chunks or lumps and it drinks so smoothly, like a warm, liquid cloud. It’s great for small children or the elderly, and everyone in between will love it anyway. It’s extra awesome for being a quick soup. No need to make slow stocks with bones–this soup can be made in under 20 minutes!

I was a little surprised by the technique in this soup since I’ve never washed ground beef before. Yet, it all makes sense because the soup is pretty clear and light, which would otherwise be clouded by the beef blood. If you have had this soup at restaurants, which I asked for frequently as a child, you may notice one difference. The beef they use at restaurants is the tendonous scraps, ground up. The result is still little teeny pieces of meat, but the pieces are a bit chewier. When we buy ground beef, because we don’t butcher the cows ourselves and reserve the scrap pieces, it’s usually a better quality without tendons, resulting in very tender little nibbles. I think both versions are divine.

East Lake Beef Soup with soup spoon

West Lake Beef Soup

  • 1/2 pound ground beef
  • 2 teaspoons rice wine
  • 1 tablespoon fine sea salt, divided
  • scant 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 4 tablespoons cornstarch, divided
  • 2 teaspoons mushroom bouillon granules
  • 3 large egg whites
  • ground white pepper to garnish
  • chopped scallion to garnish
  • chopped cilantro (with stems) to garnish

Instructions -

1. Place beef in a bowl and fill with cold water. Stir to break up the clumps. Drain. Wash 3 or 4 times, or until the water is no longer pink; drain thoroughly.

washing beef draining beef

2. Place beef in a bowl and combine with rice wine, 1 teaspoon salt, and sugar. Stir in 2 tablespoons cornstarch. Mix in 1/2 cup of water. Set aside.

3. Bring 8 cups of water to a boil in a covered pot. Turn heat to medium and drop spoonfuls of beef mixture into the water, stirring vigorously after each addition so that the meat does not clump.

4. Stir in 2 teaspoons salt and the mushroom bouillon.

5. Make a slurry by mixing together 2 tablespoons cornstarch with 2 tablespoons of water. Make sure the soup is at a low simmer and stir in the slurry to thicken the soup. Check for clumps of meat and break them up.

6. Stir in egg whites, a little bit at a time while stirring. Check seasoning and add salt if desired. Remove from heat.

7. Serve each bowl of soup with a generous sprinkle of white pepper, a pinch of scallion, and 2 pinches of cilantro.

East Lake Beef Soup 2

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