Hot and Sour Soup

Hot and sour soup may be something you're used to ordering takeout but once you try this easy and, yes, healthy rendition you'll never go back to that gloppy stuff in the styrofoam container.

Hot and Sour Soup Recipe

This is, quite frankly, the loveliest hot and sour soup we’ve ever experienced. The author, Joanne Chang, isn’t kidding when she says this easy soup, which she learned how to make from her mother, Mama Chang, 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, this is a hot and sour soup recipe we’ll be turning to again and again and again. Many thanks to Joanne and to Mama Chang for sharing the recipe. Originally published June 19, 2013.Renee Schettler Rossi

How To Make Hot And Sour Soup With Everyday Ingredients

A few words from the author, Joanne Chang, on how this easy incarnation of hot and sour soup came into existence: My mom used to whip this up as a fast lunch for my brother and me.Ground pork isn’t traditional, but it makes the preparation of this soup ultra quick. Wood ear mushrooms, sometimes labeled “tree fungus” (appetizing, yes?) are a traditional ingredient 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.

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 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
  • 1/3 to 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 store-bought or homemade 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 reheated hot and sour soup may take on a slightly different appearance, but it will taste just the same.)
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Recipe Testers Reviews

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 one-dimensional imbalanced flavor. That all changed with this recipe. This version of hot and sour soup has an almost delicate consistency and a purity of taste that I’d never associated with this soup. The sour really comes through in this rendition, although it's balanced and can, of course, be tempered with hot sauce and sesame oil, if desired. 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!

This is a good alternative to the hot and sour soup I've 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 this version of 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.

Although this hot and sour 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 Sriracha 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

  1. 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.

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

  2. 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.

    1. Les, that sounds simply phenomenal. Can’t wait to hear what other recipes on the site you tweak to your (and my!) liking…

      1. renee, hi. how can i get a copy of these recipe, i live on my own and i would love making new recipe. john

  3. 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.

    1. 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!

  4. 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!

  5. 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.

    1. 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?!

  6. 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.

  7. This recipe is so adaptable and have made it several times. I’ve used ground turkey instead of pork. Yellow squash instead of tofu. A mixture of tofu and veggies. Really, whatever I have on hand and is seasonal. Very quick and easy.

    1. Victoria, I’m thrilled to hear that you like this recipe as much as we do—maybe even more from the sounds of it! It’s terrific that you’ve made the recipe your own over and over again. Love that. So appreciate you taking the time to let us know.

    1. Mer, given the particular vegetables in this, I wouldn’t freeze it. I think their texture and taste would be compromised. I’ve made this soup several times and can assure you it comes together incredibly quickly. Perhaps if you keep a stash of stock frozen and this recipe handy it could still work on a harried weeknight?

    1. You’re very welcome! And yes, black vinegar lends quite a lot of complexity to whatever it touches. Doesn’t take much! Looking forward to hearing what you think…

  8. Just made this as a quick lunch for my son and myself and he immediately declared it “restaurant quality.” I did up the Sriracha a bit but next time might hold back a little on the vinegar—maybe 1/2 cup instead of 2/3. I used 5 medium-size cremini mushrooms, a pound of Trader Joe’s firm tofu, and my favorite Better Than Bouillion for the chicken stock.

  9. Made this last night and it was delicious! So warming on a cold night. Still need to practice the egg strands – didn’t go exactly right, but didn’t make any difference :) Will definitely turn to this recipe the next time a hot and sour soup craving hits!

    1. April: strands, schmrands! What I care about first and foremost is flavor and comfort. Technique can always follow! (Think of it this way: with the winter here, you have tons of opportunities to perfect your craft!)

  10. Our family’s review is a bit more mixed than the others posted. We found the quantity of vinegar to be overwhelming, basically making enjoyment of the soup difficult. We added sriracha, sesame oil, green onions, and cilantro at the table to taste, which did improve things, but still didn’t quite fix the issue. I recommend adding half of the ⅔ cup and tasting, working from there. More vegetables would also be a welcome addition. The speed at which the soup comes together once the prep is done is fantastic.

    1. Sandy, sorry to hear that it was too sour for you but I’m relieved you were able to tweak it to your liking. I so appreciate you taking the time to let us know. I find it to be a very personal thing, how sour one likes things, and I’m not crazy about stuff being too sour, either. I tweaked the amount of vinegar in the recipe so that it starts with a lesser amount and more can be added to taste. Again, thank you!

  11. I’ve made this multiple times. As-is is terrific. But I also find the recipe easily adapted to what I have in the house. Ground turkey, carrots, celery, Thai peppers, veggie broth, extra mushrooms in lieu of tofu…thanks for such a reliable, flavorful base.

    1. Wonderful, Victoria! And yes, it is incredibly versatile, so glad that this has become a staple for you! Thanks for taking the time to let us know!

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