The recipe for Dragon's Tongue Hot-and-Sour Soup contained an incorrect ingredient. The corrected recipe is on Page E2. The recipe for Dragon's Tongue Hot-and-Sour soup in the food section of March 12 contained an incorrect ingredient. Here is the corrected recipe: DRAGON'S TONGUE HOT-AND-SOUR SOUP (8 to 10 servings) 10 cups unsalted chicken stock 2 to 4 teaspoons chili paste with garlic 4 to 6 tablespoons light rice vinegar 2 tablespoons dark rice vinegar 1 teaspoon sugar 1 teaspoon garlic, minced 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced 2 to 3 tablespoons soy sauce, preferably low sodium 1/2 cup dried mushrooms, soaked, trimmed and cut in strips 1/2 cup cloud ears, soaked, trimmed and cut in strips 1/2 cup lily buds, soaked, trimmed and tied in knots 1/2 cup bamboo shoots, rinsed and julienned 2 ounces bean thread, soaked and cut in 2-inch lengths 1 tablespoon cornstarch 3 tablespoons rice wine 12 ounces pork loin, cut in strips 1 cup fresh bean sprouts, rinsed 1 cup firm bean curd, cut in strips 1 teaspoon sesame oil Thinly sliced scallions for garnish Heat the stock and add the chili paste with garlic, the vinegars, sugar, garlic, ginger and soy sauce. Stir in the mushrooms, cloud ears, lily buds, bamboo shoots and bean thread noodles and bring to a simmer. Combine the cornstarch and rice wine and add along with the pork and bean sprouts. Cook, stirring over medium-high heat for about 1 minute. When the soup is thickened, the pork will be done. Correct seasonings with more vinegar and/or chili paste with garlic as needed. Carefully fold in the bean curd and sesame oil, garnish with the scallions and serve immediately.

Hot-and-sour soup, originating in China's western provinces, is the most frequently ordered soup in area Chinese restaurants. Yet it is all too often a tangle of tired vegetables suspended in an over-thickened broth, heavy with white pepper and vinegar.

What it should be is light and startling, an adventure in contrasting textures and flavors, tangy and tingly, crunchy and soft, smooth and slippery, hot and sour. Not many dishes can boast such an array of contrasts.

It is a dish that dares improvisation. Starting with a good quality stock and building from there, this complex soup can be varied endlessly by adding or subtracting any of the fresh, dried or canned oriental ingredients, or meat, fish and poultry.

For a festive and colorful main dish, shreds of chicken breast, pork loin and fresh shrimp will enrich the intriguing tangle of bean thread and cloud ears, dried mushrooms and bean curd, lily buds and bamboo shoots. A delicious and protein-packed vegetarian variation can be made by simply leaving out the meat and increasing the bean curd.

Traditionally, ingredients are cut in thin strips in hot-and-sour soup, but in a fish and shellfish variety, it is more interesting to feature foods cut in rounds: sliced water chestnuts, carrots, scallops, baby clams, fresh and dried mushrooms.

In the ongoing debate as to the source of "hot" in the soup, black pepper, white pepper and various chili sauces and pastes are contenders. In the following recipe for Dragon's Tongue Hot-and-Sour Soup, I have used chili paste with garlic for its distinctive Sichuan flavor. As for which vinegar to use, stay away from distilled white and apple cider vinegar and choose one or more of the dark or light rice vinegars.

A short glossary of oriental ingredients most often used in hot-and-sour soup would include the following, all readily available in area Asian markets:

Bean curd: Tofu. Use the firm variety and add at the last minute so it doesn't break up.

Bean thread: Clear noodles made from mung beans. Soak 10 minutes in boiling water and cut in 2-inch lengths before adding to the soup.

Black mushrooms: Dried oriental mushrooms. Must be soaked in boiling water 10 minutes and trimmed of stems. The soaking liquid is also sometimes added.

Cloud ears: Also called wood ears and tree fungus, a black fungus that greatly expands when soaked 10 minutes in boiling water. They are bland but have a lovely ebony color and are both slippery and crunchy.

Lily buds: Dried buds from common lilies, they have a unique flavor somewhat reminiscent of fresh-cured hay. Soak in boiling water 10 minutes and pinch off the hard tip. If you want to be fancy, tie each one in a knot. DRAGON'S TONGUE HOT-AND-SOUR SOUP (8 to 10 servings)

10 cups unsalted chicken stock

2 to 4 teaspoons chili paste with garlic

4 to 6 tablespoons light rice vinegar

2 tablespoons dark rice vinegar

1 teaspoon sugar

1 teaspoon garlic, minced

1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced

2 to 3 tablespoons soy sauce, preferably low sodium

1/2 cup dried mushrooms, soaked, trimmed and cut in strips

1/2 cup cloud ears, soaked, trimmed and cut in strips

1/2 cup lily buds, soaked, trimmed and tied in knots

1/2 cup bamboo shoots, rinsed and julienned

2 ounces bean curd, soaked and cut in 2-inch lengths

1 tablespoon cornstarch

3 tablespoons rice wine

12 ounces pork loin, cut in strips

1 cup fresh bean sprouts, rinsed

1 cup firm bean curd, cut in strips

1 teaspoon sesame oil

Thinly sliced scallions for garnish

Heat the stock and add the chili paste with garlic, the vinegars, sugar, garlic, ginger and soy. Stir in the mushrooms, cloud ears, lily buds, bamboo shoots and bean thread noodles and bring to a simmer. Combine the cornstarch and rice wine and add along with the pork and bean sprouts. Cook, stirring over medium-high heat for about 1 minute.

When the soup is thickened, the pork will be done. Correct seasonings with more vinegar and/or chili paste with garlic as needed. Carefully fold in the bean curd and sesame oil, garnish with the scallions and serve immediately.