I make this soothing, easy-to-digest soup whenever I’m coming down with something and need a bowlful of love. (It also makes a wonderful gift to bring a loved one who needs some TLC.)
This soup can be enjoyed as part of a soft-food/low-residue/gastroparesis diet. For bigger appetites, it can be bulked up by adding leftover rice and shredded chicken meat.
Egg drop soup is endlessly versatile and ridiculously simple to prepare. The soup featured here is inspired by classic Chinese egg-drop soup, but other cuisines have similar soups; for instance, Italians enjoy stracciatella soup, where the eggs are whisked with grated Parmesan. Either version also happily accommodates the addition of ingredients like tomatoes, shredded chicken, spinach or bok choy, sliced mushrooms, peas, and cooked rice or noodles.
Despite the speed and simplicity of its preparation, egg drop soup can pack a powerful nutritional punch. It is:
- Rich in Protein: Eggs, the main ingredient in egg drop soup, are an excellent source of high-quality protein, as is bone broth (homemade or store-bought), which usually contains 8-10 g protein per cup. You can further boost the soup’s protein content by adding shredded, cooked chicken, shrimp, or tofu. Protein is essential for muscle repair, immune function, and overall cellular health.
- Easy to digest: Being mostly liquid and containing soft, cooked ingredients, egg drop soup is a great option for someone whose appetite is impaired by illness and who can’t handle large, rich meals.
- Nutrient-Dense: In addition to protein, eggs contain various essential nutrients such as vitamins (B12, riboflavin, and folate) and minerals (iron, phosphorus, and selenium). You can enhance the nutritional value of egg drop soup by adding vegetables, such as spinach, bok choy, mushrooms, tomatoes, peas, or green onions. These additions can contribute additional vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
- Hydration: Since egg drop soup consists primarily of liquid, it can contribute to your daily fluid intake, helping to keep you hydrated. Proper hydration is important for various bodily functions, including digestion and temperature regulation, and particularly important when you are ill.
- Low in Carbohydrate: If you are following a low-carbohydrate/keto diet and limiting your carbohydrate intake, egg drop soup can be a good choice as it is low in carbs. Adding cooked rice or noodles will, of course, increase the carb content, but that’s fine since carbs can help you feel more energized. As noted in other recipes, noodles and grains don’t supply a lot of nutrients, so I usually don’t add more than 1/4 to 1/3 cup of these to a serving of soup. (Added grains are not recommended for people on strict keto diets, but shirataki noodles — which are carb-free — taste great in this soup.)
- Provides Warmth and Comfort: Warm soups, including egg drop soup, can be soothing and comforting, especially during colder weather. The warmth may also help relieve nasal congestion and provide relief from cold or flu symptoms.
- Easy to Prepare: The simplicity of the recipe makes egg drop soup a quick and easy dish to prepare at home. This can be particularly beneficial for individuals with busy schedules, those who are undergoing a tiring treatment (e.g., chemo or radiation to treat cancer), or those who feel weakened after being ill (colds, flu, and Covid).
In Praise of Bone Broth
One of the star ingredients in this soup is bone broth. That’s because high-quality broth not only tastes deeply comforting, but also provides nutrients human bodies need to fight disease and recover from surgery, chemotherapy, or other medical treatments.
Until food production became industrialized, humans ate a lot of bones — in soups, stews, or as part of their meals. Nowadays we hardly ever encounter bones, connective tissue, skin, or other non-muscle components of meat; they are whisked away at the meat packing plant and added to pet food. That’s a serious nutritional loss for us (though a gain for our darling pets!), for animal bones are rich in minerals, vitamins, essential fats (especially when they contain marrow), glucosamine, chondroitin (natural compounds found in cartilage that supports joint health), and more.
Bones also contain collagen, which turns into gelatin when cooked and yields several important amino acids (read about the manifold health benefits of gelatin here). I sometimes add a little gelatin powder to my bone broth until it firms to a thick jello-like consistency when refrigerated. (Note: gelatin is usually made from beef or pork; if you avoid either of these meats for religious or other reasons, read the label closely to make sure you get one that suits your requirements.)
Nourishing Egg Drop Soup
Basic Egg Drop Soup
- 4 cups chicken bone broth homemade or store-bought (my favorite in terms of taste and cost is Costco's own-brand bone broth)
- 1-2 tbsp potato starch or corn starch (this thickens the soup just enough to prevent the egg drops to fall to the bottom of the pot)
- 2 tsp fresh ginger finely grated; ground ginger works, too
- 1 med-lge clove garlic finely minced or grated on a zester
- ⅛ tsp white pepper
- 4 large eggs whisked in a bowl with 1 tbsp water
- 1 tsp toasted sesame oil available in the Asian section of most supermarkets or at an Asian supermarket
- 1 tsp fish sauce my favorite brand is Red Boat
- salt to taste if using salted broth, you'll need less salt than if using unsalted; season to taste
- 4 medium scallions (green onions) finely chopped
Toppings & Optional Additions
- 5 oz mushrooms preferably shitake, but any type of mushrooms works
- 8 oz cooked, shredded chicken 2 oz per serving
- 1 cup cooked rice I like basmati or jasmine rice; ¼ cup per serving
- 2 cups greens coarsely chopped; for instance, spinach, baby kale or baby bok choy
- a sprinkling of fresh cilantro coarsely chopped
- 2 tbsp sesame seeds lightly toasted (optional)
- a drizzle of umami crunch seasoning or chili oil something like this (vegan, gluten-free)
- In a medium pot, whisk together bone broth, cornstarch, ginger, garlic, and white pepper until well combined. Place on a burner set to medium-high heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until the stock comes to a boil and thickena slightly. Lower the temperature to medium to maintain a gentle simmer.
- If adding sliced mushrooms, do so at this point.
- While you are waiting for the broth to come to a boil, whisk together the eggs and water in a medium jug or bowl, ideally one that has a spout (this makes it easier to pour the egg into the soup in a thin, steady stream).
- Gently stir the simmering broth in a circular motion with a wire whisk to create a vortex. Then, slowly pour half the whisked eggs into the broth in a thin stream, stirring gently to create the egg ribbons. After about a minute, add the rest of the beaten eggs. (Pouring all in at once may cool the broth to the point where the egg doesn't set as well.)
- If adding cooked chicken, fresh shrimp, leafy greens, rice, or noodles, do so at this point and bring back to boil for 1-2 minutes to cook/reheat the additions.
- Remove the pot from the heat. Stir in the toasted sesame oil. Season to taste with fish sauce, salt (if needed), and a little more white pepper. Feel free to add another dash or two of sesame oil.
- Serve immediately, garnished with chopped scallions and any of the toppings suggested above.