Mama Chang’s Hot and Sour Soup

Hot and Sour Soup Recipe

Here are all of the bright and peppery flavors of the hot and sour soup you get at a restaurant with none of the glop. Ground pork is not traditional, but it makes the preparation of this soup ultraquick. Wood ear mushrooms, sometimes labeled “tree fungus” (now there’s an appetizing name), are a standard addition, but they can be hard to find unless you live near an Asian grocery store. I substitute easy-to-find button mushrooms, which don’t have the same crunch but add a nice earthy flavor. Egg, not flavorless cornstarch, acts as the thickener, allowing the flavors of pork, sesame, vinegar, and pepper to come shining through. My mom used to whip this up as a fast lunch for my brother and me, and I have taught it to the Flour chefs, so they now offer it as a daily soup special. It always sells out, and Mom is thrilled to be part of the menu.–Joanne Chang

LC A Revelation Of A Recipe Note

This is, quite frankly, the loveliest hot and sour soup we’ve ever experienced. Seriously. Not just in terms of taste, but texture. Joanne isn’t kidding when she says this soup has “none of the glop,” referring, of course, to that characteristic goopy texture that the hot and sour soup renditions most cheap Chinese carryout restaurants—and many not-so-cheap Chinese sit-down restaurants—tend to offer. Thin but not wan, with a pronounced sour tang that you can balance with as much or as little hot sauce or sesame oil as you prefer, this is a soup we’ll be turning to again and again and again…. Many thanks, Mama Chang.

Hot and Sour Soup Recipe

  • Quick Glance
  • 20 M
  • 20 M
  • Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 garlic clove, smashed and minced
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
  • 4 scallions, white and green parts, minced, plus more for garnish
  • 8 ounces ground pork
  • 4 cups homemade chicken stock or canned chicken broth
  • 1 pound soft or firm tofu (not silken and not extra firm), cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 4 or 5 medium button mushrooms, wiped clean and thinly sliced (or substitute dried, rehydrated wood ear mushrooms)
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup rice vinegar, or to taste
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce, or to taste
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil, plus more for garnish
  • 1 tablespoon Sriracha sauce, or to taste
  • 2 large eggs
  • White or black pepper for garnish

Directions

  • 1. In the saucepan, heat the vegetable oil over medium-high heat until hot. Add the garlic, ginger, scallions, and pork and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 1 minute. You want to break up the pork into smaller pieces with a spoon, but don’t worry about breaking it down completely or cooking it through.
  • 2. Add the stock and bring to a simmer. Add the tofu, mushrooms, sugar, vinegar, soy sauce, black pepper, sesame oil, and Sriracha sauce and bring the soup back to a simmer over medium-high heat. Taste the soup. If you want it hotter, add more Sriracha sauce; if you want it more sour, add more vinegar.
  • 3. In a small bowl, whisk the eggs until blended. With the soup at a steady simmer, slowly whisk in the eggs so they form strands. Bring the soup back to a simmer. Divide the soup among 4 bowls and garnish each with a little sesame oil, scallion, and white or black pepper. Serve immediately. (Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. The soup may take on a slightly different appearance, but it will taste just the same.)
Hungry for more? Chow down on these:

Testers Choice

Testers Choice

The love of my life, E, never, ever fails to order hot and sour soup when we get Chinese takeout. I fail to share his enthusiasm for the soup, given what I’d come to think of as its characteristic gloppy, goopy, gravy-like consistency and often one-dimensional flavor. That all changed with this recipe. Mama Chang’s version has a light consistency and a purity of taste that I’d never associated with this soup. The sour really comes through in her rendition, although it can, of course, be tempered with hot sauce and sesame oil, if desired. And I couldn’t believe how quickly this came together, especially considering the soup’s complex flavor. (Note, I used dried, rehydrated wood ear mushrooms in place of button mushrooms and I left out the pork.) Perhaps most tellingly, though, E polished off two bowls of this soup and then asked me to save the leftovers—an unprecedented request in all my years of forcing him to taste-test recipes. Bisous to you, Mama and Joanne Chang!

Testers Choice
Sema Stein

Jun 19, 2013

This is a good alternative to the hot and sour soup I have been making. It uses readily available hot sauce instead of the hard-to-find canned Szechuan mustard which my recipe calls for (why didn’t I ever think of that?), so I’ll probably be making Mama Chang’s Hot and Sour Soup more often. The flavor is good, but the button mushrooms don’t give the same flavor that the Chinese dry mushrooms do, and I miss the bamboo shoots and tiger lilies. I used Marie Sharp’s Habanero Pepper Sauce that my daughter brought back from a trip to Beliz. I also used slivered raw chicken breast instead of the ground meat. I wonder how Mama Chang whipped this up for a quick lunch, as there is a lot of mincing and dicing before you put it together.

Testers Choice
Joan Osborne

Jun 19, 2013

Although this soup isn’t quite what I’ve had at some Chinese restaurants, it’s a great one to make and enjoy at home. I love that it uses ingredients that are easy to find. We enjoyed the addition of ground pork, but I think it would also be good with ground chicken, turkey, or even beef. After tasting it, I opted to add an additional teaspoon Siracha since we like ours on the spicy side. It tasted good when I tasted to check for more hot sauce or vinegar, but it was even better once it was in the bowls with the addition of a little more sesame oil. I’ll be making this one again when we’re craving hot and sour soup and can’t get to a Chinese restaurant.

Comments
Comments
  1. Barbara says:

    Wow. I’ve never had a hot and sour soup that I actually liked, and this one is a revelation. As is, it’s perfectly sour and slightly spicy enough for most of the family, and easily ramped up a notch for others. I even left out the scallions at the beginning, adding them only at the end for those family members who tolerate them… and some extra chives. I may have whipped the eggs into a frenzy instead of forming strands, because the soup looked more like a tom yum gai than a hot and sour, but the flavor! Clean and good and devoured by eight-year-olds and grandparents alike. This soup is entering the weekly rotation, which is a whole-hearted endorsement.

  2. lisakeys64 says:

    has anyone ever used black vinegar in hot & sour soup–I think it gives an authentic flavor

    • Renee Schettler Rossi says:

      Can totally see that working, lisakeys64. Just a couple drops, I’d venture to say. That stuff is intense! In a good way, natch.

  3. Les Lorenzo says:

    I will take this and add shrimp, scallops, seafood mix, mussels, (anything works, really) and some Chinese noodles to it and have a great one-pot meal. I also like some cilantro dropped in just before serving.

  4. LisaLou says:

    I will NEVER order Hot & Sour soup again at a Chinese restaurant. Ever. This soup is delicious, light, and hard to stop eating. This soup is a keeper and going in my favorites box.

    • Renee Schettler Rossi says:

      LisaLou, that’s exactly how we feel. Many thanks for taking the time to say so, and many thanks, too, to Mama Chang and Joanne Chang of Flour Bakery for sharing!

  5. ruthie says:

    Love Hot and Sour Soup! Just love the tang and the mix of flavors. ;)

    I make just the broth and warm leftover potstickers in it, sort of a hot and sour wonton-ish thing. Lots of green onions and a nice float of spicy oil. Heaven.

    I’m going to give this version a try, subbing shiitakes for the tree ears, unless I can get some of them pretty soon. This has me fantasizing. Thanks!

    • Renee Schettler Rossi says:

      You’re so very welcome, ruthie! You’ve got us craving soupy potstickers now, too…!

  6. Jessica says:

    I made this exactly according to the recipe, and oh my goodness it is so delicious!! So. Delicious. I will never order it from the take-out joint again – now I can make it at home! IMO, you could skip the pork and it would still be delicious. You could also sneak in a few extra veggies, like shredded carrot or extra green onion and mushroom, and not change the taste.

    • Renee Schettler Rossi says:

      Completely with you, Jessica. My husband looooooves this soup. Thanks for the tip, I’ll start sneaking some extra scallions and maybe even a little cabbage in there. And it’s ridiculously easy, isn’t it?!

  7. Deb says:

    This is simmering on the stove right now….it’s making my mouth water! The broth is incredibly good and super easy; great for this cold night.

Have something to say?

Then tell us. Have a picture you'd like to add to your comment? Send it along. Covet one of those spiffy pictures of yourself to go along with your comment? Get a free Gravatar. And as always, please take a gander at our comment policy before posting.

*

Daily Subscription

Enter your email address and get all of our updates sent to your inbox the moment they're posted. Be the first on your block to be in the know.

Preview daily e-mail

Weekly Subscription

Hate tons of emails? Do you prefer info delivered in a neat, easy-to-digest (pun intended) form? Then enter your email address for our weekly newsletter.

Preview weekly e-mail