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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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' Tips

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.

Previously I have only had hot and sour soups thickened with cornstarch, but this makes a strong case for running the other way and never looking back. This was an unexpected delight and packed with layers of flavor and texture. While the prominence of the vinegar won't be to all tastes, it's such a nice change of pace from the usual soups that I make at home and reheats incredibly well for weekday lunches. Every bite contains something new and I'm already looking forward to making it again.

I used cremini mushrooms, 2/3 cup rice vinegar, 3 tablespoons soy sauce, and 1 tablespoon Sriracha (and let people add more if they wanted it). I didn't have a problem with leftovers appearing different, except for the fat from the pork separating out to the top of the soup a little.


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  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…

  6. I have made this soup per the recipe instructions twice now (in two weeks!) and it is so good. I’m thrilled with how easy it is as well and how many of the ingredients are pantry staples. This will be a regular meal at my house!

    I did lower the amount of rice vinegar the second time around but I’m positive this is due to personal preference.

  7. We have tried a few other recipes for this soup and this is the one we keep going back to. Excellent soup!

  8. 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.

  9. 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!

  10. 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!)

  11. 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.

    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?

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

  14. 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?!

  15. 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!

  16. 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.

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

  18. 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.

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