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 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 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

A ceramic bowl filled with 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.

Prep 10 mins
Cook 10 mins
Total 20 mins
4 servings
490 kcal
4.87 / 15 votes
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  • 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 (or substitute tamari for gluten-free)
  • 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


  • 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.)
Print RecipeBuy the Flour, Too cookbook

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Show Nutrition

Serving: 1portionCalories: 490kcal (25%)Carbohydrates: 16g (5%)Protein: 32g (64%)Fat: 33g (51%)Saturated Fat: 8g (50%)Polyunsaturated Fat: 11gMonounsaturated Fat: 12gTrans Fat: 0.1gCholesterol: 141mg (47%)Sodium: 938mg (41%)Potassium: 684mg (20%)Fiber: 2g (8%)Sugar: 7g (8%)Vitamin A: 304IU (6%)Vitamin C: 7mg (8%)Calcium: 192mg (19%)Iron: 3mg (17%)

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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.

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.

Originally published October 17, 2020



  1. 5 stars
    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!)

  2. 5 stars
    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.

  3. Interesting! I never thought to use black vinegar but I’m convinced it could bring a very interesting and tasty flavor to the recipe. I’m going to try it. It could be a terrific tip! Thank you.

    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?

  4. 5 stars
    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.

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