Neither chicken stock nor corn starch is required, Chinese tomato egg drop soup is a tasty, healthy dish that can be made in 10 minutes.
Tasty food doesn’t have to be complicated. Agree? Today I’m sharing a very homely dish: tomato egg drop soup (Fān Qié Dàn Tāng/番茄蛋汤), one of the most popular soups on the dining table of Chinese households. You’d be surprised how simple it is to make.
If you have tried my recipe for Tomato & Egg Stir-fry, the national dish of China, you know how wonderful it is to combine these two common ingredients. Today’s recipe will satisfy your tastebuds too.
Unlike the classic version of Chinese egg drop soup, this recipe doesn’t call for chicken broth or vegetable broth. Cornstarch isn’t necessary either. Here is what you need:
- Ripe tomatoes
- Aromatics: Scallions and cilantro (or other herbs for garnishing)
- Seasonings: Salt, white pepper, and sesame oil
- Neutral cooking oil
- Papery dried shrimp (Xiā Pí/虾皮), for an extra umami taste (skip if unavailable)
🛎 A note on tomatoes:
Tomato plays a very important role in enhancing the flavor of this dish. Use the best tomatoes that you can get. Naturally ripened tomatoes have a richer taste. A good tomato should be firm to touch, but not so hard that it doesn’t ‘give’ when you squeeze.
Step 1 (optional): Peel the tomatoes
For this recipe, I usually peel the skin off the tomatoes for a better texture. This makes the soup feel “smoother” in your mouth. However, this procedure is entirely optional. Keep the skin on if you prefer.
- Use a sharp knife to cut a small cross on each tomato (opposite the stem side).
- Soak them in hot water for 1 to 2 minutes.
- Take out then peel the skin off from the cross-cut.
- Cut the peeled tomatoes into small pieces.
Step 2: Beat the eggs
Crack the eggs into a bowl. Add a little water, then whisk lightly. This helps to thin the consistency, making it flow smoothly.
Step 3: Fry the aromatics
In a saucepan or small pot, fry chopped scallions and papery dried shrimp (if using) in a little oil until fragrant.
Step 4: Cook the tomatoes
Put in the chopped tomato. Fry until it becomes a little mushy. Pour in water then cover to cook until it comes to a boil.
Step 5: Add the egg
Remove the lid. Turn the heat to the lowest so the water is at a gentle simmer. Pour in the beaten egg slowly. Swirl with a spoon.
Step 6: Season and garnish
Add salt, white pepper, and sesame oil. Mix well then taste. Add more seasoning if necessary. Ladle the soup into serving bowls. Garnish with cilantro. Serve it with steamed rice, or add some noodles to make a meal.
Tips on the “egg flower”
The exact size and look of the egg ribbons/strands (known as “egg flower” in Chinese) can vary. It depends on:
- How vigorously the broth is boiling
- How slowly you pour the egg
- How you swirl the broth
The general rule is that the strands tend to be big if the broth is boiling (instead of a bare simmer), the egg is poured quickly and you don’t swirl the broth.
For this tomato soup, I prefer medium-sized strands to match the size of the tomato pieces. So I keep the broth at a simmer. Pour in the egg slowly and gently swirl the broth afterward.
Whereas for the classic version of egg drop soup (see image below), I like fine strands which correspond to the silky, smooth texture of the soup. If you prefer this style, keep the broth at a bare simmer. Drizzle the egg in a very thin stream and slowly swirl the broth at the same time.
A: For this recipe, fresh tomatoes produce better results than canned ones. But please feel free to substitute if that’s more convenient for you. Since the canned ones are more acidic, taste and adjust the quantity when necessary.
A: For 4 cups (about 1 litre) of liquid, you’d need 3 tablespoons of cornstarch mixed with 6 tablespoons of water. Pour the cornstarch slurry into the broth right before you add the egg.
Other soups you may like
Looking for more comforting soup recipes? Check out these classic recipes:
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Tomato Egg Drop Soup (番茄蛋汤)
- 3 medium ripe tomatoes
- 2 eggs
- 1 tablespoon cooking oil
- 1 stalk scallions - finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon papery dried shrimp - optional
- 4 cups water
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 pinch ground white pepper
- ¼ teaspoon sesame oil
- Coriander - chopped
- Cut a cross on each tomato (opposite the stem). Leave them in hot water (just boiled) for 1-2 minutes. Take out and peel the skin off from the cross-cut. Then dice them into small cubes (see note).
- Crack the eggs into a bowl. Add 1 tablespoon of water. Whisk until smooth.
- Heat up the oil over high heat in a pot/wok. Fry scallions and papery dried shrimp until fragrant.
- Stir in the tomato pieces. Leave to cook until they become a little mushy. Pour in water then cover with a lid.
- When the water begins to boil, turn the heat down. Uncover and slowly pour in the egg. Swirl around with a spoon.
- Add salt, ground white pepper & sesame oil. Sprinkle over the chopped coriander.
NUTRITION DISCLOSURE: Nutritional information on this website is provided as a courtesy to readers. It should be considered estimates. Please use your own brand nutritional values or your preferred nutrition calculator to double check against our estimates.