Hot and Sour Soup

Hot and sour soup may be something you’re used to ordering from your closest Chinese restaurant. But this easy and authentic version, filled with ground pork, tofu, and mushrooms, is done in less time than it takes to order takeout. And, quite honestly, it’s the best we’ve ever had.

A ceramic bowl filled with hot and sour soup.

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 gloppy texture prevalent in the Americanized hot and sour soup renditions found in many Chinese carryout restaurants. With its 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. Renee Schettler

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 and how you can still make it even if you don’t have all the traditional ingredients.

“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

  • Quick Glance
  • (14)
  • 20 M
  • 20 M
  • Serves 4
4.9/5 - 14 reviews
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Ingredients


Directions

In a saucepan over medium-high heat, warm the vegetable oil. Add the garlic, ginger, scallions, and pork and cook, stirring occasionally to break up the pork, for about 1 minute. Don’t worry about cooking the pork through.

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.

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 will taste just the same.) Originally published June 19, 2013.

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Recipe Testers' Reviews

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.  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.

This hot and sour soup 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.

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Comments

  1. I used this recipe as inspiration. I used 6 cups water, 3 chicken breasts, which I shredded, and doubled the amount of spices except the garlic, onions, black pepper and rice vinegar, which I kept at 1/3 cup. I also used low-sodium soy sauce, and added a can of water chestnuts, which I chopped, for some crunch.
    My husband loved this! Next time, I’ll use the pork and substitute the soy sauce with some no sodium, homemade umani sauce.

  2. This soup is delicious and warming, and is very quick to make. I make large batches of chicken stock, so used that for the base. The other ingredients are typically on-hand, so it was easy and nutritious as a fast meal. Some adjusted the amount of rice vinegar, and sriracha, as indicated in the recipe, to their taste, adding a little more to their own bowl. The addition of eggs made the soup feel especially well-rounded. An all around solid recipe that will go into regular rotation in our house.

  3. I just finished making this soup. It was supposed to be left for my family’s dinner tonight (I won’t be home to cook it later, but it’s very quick and easy!) but it’s so utterly delicious that I am eating it for my late breakfast! I followed the recipe with a few small extra additions and exceptions: I added a tablespoon of dark miso, I used hot chili toasted sesame oil instead of regular sesame oil, and I added a paw-full of thin rice noodles (that were already cooked and sitting in the fridge) to the bottom of my bowl. I ladled the soup over the top of the noodles, topped with a few more sliced scallions, and am happily slurping up a divine breakfast! Maybe if I don’t go back for seconds there will actually be some left for my family for dinner! Awesome, easy, fool-proof recipe!

    1. Erin B, magnificent! Especially there not being any left. Sometimes we just need to do what we need to do in the moment! Greatly appreciate you taking the time to share your tweaks, which I’m going to borrow, by the way. Looking forward to hearing which recipe on the site you try next…

  4. This Hot and Sour soup was great. I did change the mushroom from button to shiitake. I also added a few dried shitake and black trumpet to soak chopped well and used the soaking water in the soup. For sure this recipe will be made again and again.

  5. I use chicken feet to get that silky texture to the broth. Remove before eating. Hot and sour soup is my go-to when I feel a cold coming on. Eat it hot! Drink hot sake with it, and sweat the cold right out! Dang, I don’t have a cold, but I’m making this tonight with slivered pork. Adding cabbage.

    1. Love everything about this, Andi. The chicken feet. The booze. The cabbage. Everything! Appreciate you sharing your tips and tricks! And looking forward to hearing what you think of it…

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