Egg drop soup combines a light broth with delicate eggy strands that melt in your mouth. You might have also heard it being called egg flower soup. It's a classic soul-soothing Chinese soup for all ages and is often served as a starter or as a light meal.
In our household, this is the go-to for anyone who has an upset stomach as the eggs are also easy to digest and can help to coat the stomach lining. Its mild flavours and simple nature can provide sustenance without causing discomfort, making it a gentle choice for sensitive stomachs.
To us, it's common to have this for sumptuous broth for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Although this dish is typically eaten plain, you can top it with various ingredients. It is also often served as a side dish with rice or noodles.
Apart from the traditional version, we've also included a healthy egg drop soup without cornstarch. Our recipe also covers a variety of toppings, such as chicken, corn, tomatoes, mushrooms, wonton, and noodles. So get ready to learn how to make egg drop soup in under 15 minutes.
What does it taste like?
Chinese egg drop soup is savoury, slightly sweet, and has a hint of umami flavour. The broth is mild and somewhat savoury, and the strands are silky and tender.
While our basic recipe provides a plain but distinct flavour, you can add a variety of toppings to add more complexity to it.
For example, we love adding tomatoes, corn and mushrooms to our soup as it adds more of a bite and texture. However, we do recommend sticking close to the base recipe if you are preparing for someone with an upset stomach.
Egg drop soup ingredients
Here are the egg drop soup ingredients you will need:
- Chicken stock
- Sesame oil
- White pepper
This is the star ingredient that gives the dish its distinctive light and fluffy texture. Big, fresh eggs work best in our recipe.
You do the old float test to see if they are fresh or not. If it sinks, then it is fresh. However, if it is old, it will tilt upwards or float.
Fresh eggs have a higher water content, contributing to the strands' airy and fluffy feel. Larger ones also contain more yolk, enhancing the dish's flavour.
Meanwhile, if you only have old ones, you can still use them. Just bear in mind that you might need to add a little water to them after beating them to help them bind together.
Chicken broth is the base of the Chinese egg drop soup and provides a sweet, umami flavour. You can make the stock from scratch or purchase it from the store.
Usually, we just prepare the stock using chicken stock powder. We find the powdered version to be the most practical for us to store and prepare. To prepare 1 cup of chicken stock, you can simply dissolve 1 teaspoon of chicken stock powder in 1 cup of hot water.
Having said that, homemade chicken stock hands down tastes better and is healthier than powdered or store-bought broth. If we have time on our hands, we do prefer to make homemade chicken stock.
If you don't have chicken stock, you can substitute it with beef, vegetable, or mushroom broth. Alternatively, you can just use water, but the base will be less flavourful.
Cornstarch acts as a thickener, contributing to the dish’s smooth, creamy texture. To prepare a cornstarch slurry, combine equal parts cornstarch and water in a small bowl. Then, whisk the mixture until it is smooth and free of lumps. Make the slurry with cold water to prevent the cornflour from clumping together.
If you want this egg drop soup recipe without cornstarch, you can also use tapioca or potato starch. You can use these thickeners in a 1:1 ratio with water.
Our easy egg drop soup uses turmeric to give the broth a rich, restaurant-like golden colour as well as a mild earthy flavour. Turmeric also has it’s antioxidant properties which adds to the nutrition of the soup.
If you're worried about the turmeric flavour being overpowering, make sure you add it in small increments. This way, you get to taste and get a good balance of the colour you want.
While we don't recommend it, you can substitute turmeric with yellow food colouring. It will turn the soup golden but will not add any additional flavour.
Alternatively, you can also use saffron to produce a distinct yellow colour. However, saffron is much more expensive than turmeric and we don't use it much in Chinese cooking.
MSG, known as monosodium glutamate, is a flavour enhancer often used in Chinese cuisine. It can give the easy egg drop soup an umami, savoury depth and complexity. The amount of MSG you use is entirely up to you.
However, for the best flavour, add around ¼ teaspoon MSG to the dish. Simply sprinkle it into the pot while the mixture is simmering to ensure it's completely dissolved. Please keep in mind that some people may be sensitive to MSG.
Adding chicken will give this hot meal a rich and savoury flavour. The chicken will also give you a boost of protein. For egg drop soup with chicken, use boneless and skinless chicken breasts for the best results. You would need about 100g of chicken for our recipe.
Before adding the chicken to the broth, dice it into small, bite-sized pieces. The pieces should be approximately ½ inch. Then, cook the chicken in a separate skillet with a little oil and pepper until it's no longer pink. Add the pre-cooked chicken near the end of the soup-making process to prevent it from overcooking.
Corn adds sweetness and a light crunch to the dish. A regular batch of egg drop soup with corn should contain about ½ cup of corn. As the taste of corn is quite distinct, avoid adding too much as its flavour may overpower the rest of the ingredients.
You can use fresh, canned or frozen corn. In our recipe, we are using canned corn out of convenience.
If you're using fresh corn, cut the kernels from the cob. You can add the fresh corn halfway through the cooking time and let it simmer until the kernels are soft.
If you are using canned or frozen corn, you must drain and rinse it. Then, add it near the end of the cooking time to avoid it becoming too soft.
Tomatoes introduce acidity and a refreshing flavour. It can also be used to add colour to the dish. The type of tomatoes you use is up to personal preference, but our favourite is the cherry tomato.
Larger tomatoes can provide a more solid texture. However, smaller ones, such as cherry tomatoes, provide a clear sourness and tanginess that cuts through the overall mild flavour of the broth. In addition, due to the small size of the cherry tomatoes, they also cook quickly without getting too soggy.
You will need 1 cup of cherry tomatoes, cut in half or quarters. To ensure that the tomatoes preserve their shape and flavour, add them near the end. The broth will be clear if the tomatoes are not softened.
However, if you want the tomato egg drop soup to be a reddish colour, add them earlier. Over time, the hot broth will soften the tomatoes until the juices seep out.
Wontons or stuffed tofu are added to the dish to make it a hearty and filling meal. Wontons can offer another layer of texture and chewiness to your dish. You can use either store-bought or homemade wontons.
People generally use pork or shrimp wontons for our recipe. If you're using pre-made wontons, cook them according to the directions on the package. Then add them to the wonton egg drop soup right before serving.
If you're using homemade wontons, throw them in the pot and heat until they float to the surface. Floating indicates that they're done. Alternatively, fry the wonton to add a bit of crunch to the dish. We recommend adding two wontons for every serving.
There is no rule as to what type of noodles you can add to the dish. From our experience, thin egg or vermicelli noodles work best for egg drop soup with noodles. They give the broth a delicate texture and help make the dish more filling.
When ready to serve, add the cooked noodles to the broth after draining and rinsing them per the directions on the box. A regular bowl requires around ½ cup of cooked noodles.
How to make egg drop soup
- Add the chicken stock in a medium-sized soup pot and bring it to a simmer over medium heat. You want the broth to be gently simmering but not boiling. Once the broth is simmering, add the sesame oil, salt, and white pepper. Then, add the turmeric or yellow food colouring.
- After that, add the cornstarch slurry. Keep stirring the broth as you pour in the cornstarch slurry. Otherwise, your dish will have unpleasant clumps of boiled starch. Adjust the slurry depending on how thick you like your soup. You can also add the starch in small amounts. At this point, you can add chicken, tomatoes, or wontons if desired. The consistency should be medium thick and have a glossy finish.
- You can now add in the egg. Our recipe calls for a slightly beaten egg, which results in white and yellow swirls. The speed at which you swirl the soup when adding the egg determines whether you get big "flowers" or small ones.
To get big flowers, stir the soup slowly and continuously as you add the beaten mixture. Meanwhile, to get small flowers, stir the soup more quickly as you add the eggs.
This is a matter of personal taste more than correctness. Use a ladle to swirl it in a circular motion. Then, slowly add in the egg until it is completely incorporated. And your easy egg drop soup for one is ready.
- You can now add the remaining optional ingredients. To keep the texture of the cooked noodles and fried wontons, add them just before serving. If you choose to have the soup on its own, put it into a bowl, top with scallions, and serve.
This dish is best enjoyed fresh. You can prepare the broth base in advance, but add the eggs and the optional ingredients just before serving.
Healthy egg drop soup without cornstarch
Even without starch, this dish can still be delicious. Omitting the cornstarch will produce a broth with a lighter texture and flavour. The dish will have a more delicate consistency, allowing the other ingredients to shine. Due to the lack of cornflour, the soup will also be good for individuals following a keto diet due to reduced carbs.
You can use xanthan gum as an alternative to cornflour to obtain a slightly thicker consistency. Xanthan gum is a low-calorie-thickening ingredient that is frequently used in keto recipes. It's a soluble fibre that gives the dish a smoother texture without drastically altering the flavour.
Sprinkle a little amount of xanthan gum into the simmering broth while stirring. Use approximately ¼ teaspoon, or adjust as needed. However, be careful, as xanthan gum can quickly thicken the soup. Continue to stir the keto egg drop soup as the xanthan gum dissolves and slightly thickens the stock.
You could make this dish without xanthan gum. However, it will be brothy and will have a watery consistency. Using xanthan gum results in a somewhat thicker consistency, similar to the classic dish made with cornflour.
How to make it vegetarian
You can turn this umami broth into a vegetarian dish by substituting vegetable broth for the chicken stock and silken tofu for the eggs. Toppings can include chopped vegetables such as mushrooms, carrots, and spinach, as well as cooked noodles with a pinch of MSG.
To make our recipe vegetarian, blend about 200g of silken tofu until smooth and creamy. Save it for later use. Then, precisely follow the steps outlined in the main recipe. Slowly pour the silken tofu into the pot while continually stirring. The tofu will make a creamy base with the consistency of egg ribbons.
Vegetarian egg drop soup has a different flavour and texture than the regular version. Silken tofu has a creamy, custard-like consistency that replicates the ribbon texture of the original recipe. Furthermore, because of the tofu, the flavour profile is lighter. However, combining vegetable broth, seasonings, and optional toppings still results in a tasty and satisfying bowl. Tofu adds a mild soy flavour that complements the other components.
How to make larger egg flower swirls
Make sure to beat the eggs slightly before adding them to the broth. This will aid in the creation of larger and smoother ribbons. Use a slow and steady stream to pour the beaten mix into the simmering stock. As a result, the eggs can spread out and form larger swirls.
Before adding the mixture, forcefully stir the soup to generate a stronger whirlpool effect. This will help to uniformly distribute the beaten mixture and encourage larger ribbons. When adding them in, reduce the heat to medium-low. This prevents the strands from overcooking and allows them to form into larger ribbons.
Chinese egg drop soup can turn jello-like if the eggs are overcooked or the broth is heated too quickly. When they are overcooked, the proteins bind tightly. This results in a gel-like consistency. Adding too much cornstarch will also result in a thick jelly-like soup. Moreover, you should make the ribbons while the broth is simmering. Otherwise, they will cook too rapidly and become rubbery if the broth is too hot.
Use the "turn off the heat" technique to avoid this. Turn off the heat or lower the temperature after adding the beaten eggs. By doing this, the eggs are kept from overcooking and developing a gel-like structure. Gently whisk the soup after adding the beaten mixture to prevent slicing the ribbons. Over-stirring can break down the ribbons and give the mixture a jello-like texture.
Is it OK to reheat egg drop soup?
Yes, you can reheat this healthy Chinese dish. Although you can reheat it, keep in mind that the texture of the ribbons may change.
If you're using a stove, reheat the soup slowly over low to medium heat. Avoid vigorous boiling, as this can affect the texture of the egg ribbons even more.
While warming, stir the soup occasionally. This evenly spreads the heat and prevents sticking. Additionally, a splash of water or chicken stock will help keep your easy egg drop soup from becoming too thick.
To reheat the food in the microwave, heat it in a medium setting to prevent overcooking the eggs.
Regardless of how you choose to reheat, add fresh ingredients like chopped green onions or herbs, if possible. The toppings will improve the flavour.
How to store
You can store this simple egg drop soup in the refrigerator for up to three days. Before storing the soup, allow it to cool to room temperature. Cooling beforehand prevents condensation from forming inside the container.
Store the dish in airtight containers to avoid moisture and odours from affecting the flavour. Glass and BPA-free plastic containers are both good choices. This dish can also be frozen for up to two months. When ready to consume, defrost overnight in the refrigerator and gently reheat it.
Egg Drop Soup (Healthy Egg Flower Soup)
- 4 cups chicken stock
- ½ teaspoon sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ⅛ teaspoon white pepper powder
- ½ teaspoon turmeric powder
- 3 tablespoon cornflour (combined with 3 tbsps of water)
- 5 lightly beaten eggs
- 1 chopped scallion
- 1 cup halved cherry tomatoes (optional)
- ½ cup thinly sliced mushrooms (optional)
- ½ cup corn (optional)
- Pour the chicken broth into a medium soup pot and bring it to a slow simmer over medium heat. Incorporate sesame oil, salt, and white pepper according to taste. Use turmeric to add colour. To thicken the soup, continuously whisk in a cornflour slurry. If you are adding the optional ingredients, add them now.
- While swirling the soup, slowly pour in a slightly beaten egg. Adjust the swirling speed to achieve the ribbon size you desire. Gently stir in the egg to create white and golden swirls throughout the soup.
- And your simple egg drop soup is ready. Serve the soup in dishes, topped with scallions, and serve it warm.
- You can use five drops of yellow food colouring if you do not have turmeric powder.
- Add optional ingredients like chicken or wontons just before making the ribbons.
- Add cooked noodles and fried wontons just before serving to maintain their texture.
- For an extra umami flavour, add in a ¼ teaspoon of MSG.
Calories have been calculated using an online calculator. Nutritional information offered on Honest Food Talks is for general information purposes and are only rough estimations.