Chinese take-out may seem like a healthier choice than burgers, pasta or pizza.
TheCenter for Science in the Public Interest
, a watchdog consumer group that made news for calling fettuccine Alfredo a heart attack on a plate, gives Chinese food a general thumbs-up.
Except when it comes to sodium.
CSPI’s independent lab analysis of dishes on a typical Chinese restaurant menu found the standard Hot and Sour Soup clocked in at a whopping 1,100 milligrams of sodium. That’s almost the government’s recommended 1,500 milligrams a day.
The Star’s Hot and Sour Soup uses a combination of low-sodium chicken broth and reduced-sodium soy sauce to whittle the sodium to a more moderate 310 milligrams. Yet there’s still plenty of flavor, thanks to the seasonings: ginger, garlic, red pepper flakes, rice vinegar and sesame oil.
Tofu, which acts like a sponge and soaks up the flavorings of the soup, is naturally low in sodium, high in protein and cholesterol-free.
Mushrooms add texture and interest to the soup, as well as riboflavin, niacin and vitamin B6. Mushrooms are also an excellent source of potassium, a mineral that maintains blood pressure, and they are one of the richest vegetable sources of selenium, which may protect against cancer and heart disease.
Tofu is highly perishable and should be refrigerated no more than a week.Hot and Sour Soup Makes 6 servings 2 (14.5-ounce) cans fat-free, low-sodium chicken broth 2 cups water, divided 1 teaspoon minced ginger-root 2 cloves garlic, minced 3 ounces shiitake mushrooms, coarsely chopped 8 ounces button mushrooms, sliced 6 ounces reduced-fat firm tofu, drained well and cut into 1/4-inch cubes 3 tablespoons rice vinegar 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes 1 tablespoon reduced-sodium soy sauce 3 tablespoons cornstarch 2 egg whites, lightly beaten 3 green onions, minced 1 teaspoon sesame oil
Combine chicken broth, 1 3/4 cups water, ginger and garlic in Dutch oven over medium-high heat; bring to a boil. Add mushrooms and reduce heat to a simmer; cook 5 minutes.
Add tofu, vinegar, red pepper flakes and soy sauce. Simmer, uncovered, 10 minutes.
Combine remaining 1/4 cup water with cornstarch; blend well. Stir cornstarch mixture into soup and simmer 3 minutes or until soup thickens. Slowly pour egg whites into broth, stirring constantly. Add green onions and sesame oil. Heat through and ladle into serving bowls.Per (1-cup) serving: 146 calories (14 percent from fat), 2 grams total fat (trace saturated fat), no cholesterol, 20 grams carbohydrates, 12 grams protein, 310 milligrams sodium, 3 grams dietary fiber.