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Hot and Sour Soup

Enjoy this intensely flavorful and hearty hot and sour soup made from scratch. It’s simple to prepare in just 30-minutes and guaranteed to be better than takeout! Gluten-free, vegetarian, and vegan adaptable.

Bowl of hot and sour soup with a spoon next to a bowl of soy sauce.

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Hot and sour soup has been a favorite of mine since I was a child. To this day, it’s still my go-to when I’m feeling under the weather. We’re talking pure comfort and nostalgia.

Unfortunately, years ago my favorite Chinese restaurant shut its doors. For years I searched for a suitable alternative to no avail. Then about two years ago, I decided to take things into my own hands and make it myself. With The Woks of Life Hot and Sour Soup recipe as my guide, trial and error, and some alternations to suit my taste, I created what, in my opinion, is the perfect hot and sour soup.

And now, instead of missing out on one of my very favorite dishes, I get to enjoy it nearly every week. Yes, I make it that often because my whole family just adores it. I hope you will too!


What you’ll love about this recipe?


  • It’s suprisingly simple to prepare! The first time I made hot and sour soup, I was surprised to find out that it was really not all that difficult. You only need one pot, it doesn’t require any special kitchen tools or ingredients, and it only takes about half an hour from start to finish.
  • It’s better than take out! I’m not lying when I say that this soup is better than what you’re going to find at most, if not all, Chinese resturants (at least here in the Midwest). It’s got more flavor, has more goodies in it, and no MSG.
  • It’s hearty! One of the biggest complaints I have about hot and sour soup from (most) Chinese resturants is how sparse the veggies and protein are. While I absolutely LOVE the broth, I prefer my soup to be a little more substantial.
Two bowls of hot and sour soup surrounded by green onions, chopsticks, wonton strips, and bowl of soy sauce.

What is hot and sour soup?


There are actually different versions of hot and sour soup originating in different countries. In America, the most commonly recognized variety is the Chinese sort. The meat-based broth is characterized by “salty” soy sauce, “sour” vinegar, and “hot” white pepper. Other ingredients commonly included are tofu, bamboo shoots, mushrooms, pork, eggs, and carrots.


Ingredients (+ notes & substitutions)


Hot and sour soup ingredients (see recipe card).
  • Pork: I recommend pork shoulder or tenderloin for this recipe, however, pork loin would work as well. You will need to slice it thinly and make sure you do so against the grain so it’s not tough/chewy. If you’d like you could certainly swap the pork for chicken – breast or thigh meat would work.
  • Water: For the pork and the cornstarch slurry.
  • Sesame oil: Either plain or toasted, for flavor.
  • Soy sauce: To season the pork and the broth.
  • Cornstarch: Used to create a cornstarch slurry to thicken the broth as well as to draw moisture into the pork.
  • Broth: Chicken, pork, or vegetable.
  • White vinegar: The vinegar is what gives the soup it’s signature sour flavor. Rice wine vinegar is a suitable alternative.
  • Dark soy sauce: While dark soy sauce is darker (duh), richer, and sweeter than regular soy sauce, it is less salty. If you can’t find any at your local supermarket, you can purchase it at an Asian market or even through Amazon (I have included a link below). If all else fails, The Woks of Life recommends using a combination of soy sauce, molasses, and granulated sugar as a replacement. You can find their recipe here.
  • Ground white pepper: Often used in French and Chinese cooking, white pepper is milder than black pepper but more complex in flavor, often described as earthy and musty. You absolutely can’t leave it out of this recipe because it is responsible for the “hot” in hot and sour soup. The recipe calls for one teapsoon, however, you may start with a half teaspoon if you’d like to keep it on the milder side. Additionally, you can certainly add more than one teaspoon.
  • Tofu: Personally, I prefer firm or extra tofu. While soft would work, it has the tendency to fall apart. And if you’re not a fan of tofu, like my children who pick it out, you can leave it out together. The tofu can be cut however you choose. I tend to slice it into strips about 1-1.5 inches long and 1/4-1/2 inch wide.
  • Bamboo shoots: This soup is heavy on the bamboo shoots because I absolutely love the texture they add. If you are not a fan, you can leave them out or reduce the amount by half.
  • Carrot: One medium carrot should be plenty. If you prefer not to julienne it, you could shred it instead.
  • Shiitake mushrooms: I’m not a huge fan of mushrooms in this soup so I have omitted them. You are more than welcome to add them, however.
  • Eggs

How do you make hot and sour soup? (+ tips)


  1. In a small bowl, toss the pork with two tablespoons of water. Once all of the water has soaked into the pork, toss it with 1 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil, 1/2 teaspoon of soy sauce, and two teaspoons of cornstarch and set aside for five to ten minutes. ** Preparing the pork this way, is one of the tricks I learned from thewoksoflife.com. The cornstarch helps the pork absorb moisture so that it remains plump, juicy, and tender. Meanwhile, prepare the remaining ingredients.
ork in a small bowl.

2. Add the chicken stock to a large pot and bring it to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, stir in the pork.

3. Add the white vinegar, dark soy sauce, soy sauce, sesame oil, and ground white pepper and stir to combine.

4. Add the tofu, bamboo shoots, carrots, and mushrooms (optional) and allow to simmer over medium-low heat for ten minutes.

Broth with pork and veggies.

5. After ten minutes, prepare the slurry in a small bowl by whisking together the cornstarch and 1/2 cup water. While stirring, slowly pour in the slurry.

Broth with pork, veggies, and tofu.

6. Whisk the eggs in a liquid measuring cup or a small bowl. If it’s not already, bring the soup back to a simmer then while stirring in a circular motion, slowly pour the eggs into the soup. The idea here is to create a bit of a whirlpool to pour the eggs into it. You do not want to stir too fast or the eggs will break apart nor too slow or they will clump. This part can take some practice so if it doesn’t turn out perfectly the first time, don’t fret – it will still taste good.

Finished soup in pot.

7. Add soy sauce and ground white pepper to taste. If you wish to add additional heat, I recommend adding some chili garlic sauce. Crushed red pepper flakes or even Sriracha would also be suitable. Serve warm garnished with sliced scallions.


FAQ


Why is hot and sour soup gelatinous?

The cornstarch, which is used as a thickener, can become gelatinious as the soup cools. In fact, when you remove it from the refrigerator you may notice it’s pretty much jello. Don’t worry though, once reheated it will return to its original form, no longer gelatinous.

Is hot and sour soup vegetarian?

It’s is not but easily could be. For a vegetarian version, simply swap the chicken broth for vegetable broth and leave out the pork. You can replace the pork with mushrooms or even add extra tofu if you desire. To make it vegan, only one additional alteration is required. That is to leave out the eggs.

Is hot and sour soup keto?

Although relatively low in carbs, 8 grams per serving, it would not be considered keto mainly because of the tofu. You could easily make some adjustments, however, that would accomplish a more keto-friendly result. If this is your aim, I would recommend leaving out the tofu altogether. And while you are allowed some carrots on a keto diet, they are higher in carbs so you do need to be careful. Personally, I would recommend you omit them as well.

Is hot and sour soup gluten-free?

Since soy sauce often contains gluten, this soup is not necessarily gluten-free. To ensure that it is, make sure to prepare it with gluten-free soy sauce.


Storage


Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight container for up to three days. To reheat, transfer to a saucepan over medium heat and cook until warmed through. Leftovers may also be frozen for up to three weeks. Make sure to cool it completely prior to transferring leftovers to an airtight container and placing the freezer.

Two bowls of hot and sour soup with a small bowl of soy sauce.
Close up of hot and sour soup in a blue bowl.

What to serve with hot and sour soup?


  • Eggrolls or springrolls
  • Crab rangoon
  • Fried rice or lo mein
  • Sweet and sour chicken or General Tsos Chicken

More comforting Asian-inspired soup recipes you may enjoy:


  • Miso Egg Drop Soup w/ Kimchi: Umami rich, this miso egg drop soup with kimchi is brimming with flavor and is incredibly simple to prepare in less than 15 minutes. Naturally gluten-free w/ vegetarian option.
  • Spicy Thai Carrot Soup: This quick and easy creamy carrot soup is bursting with flavor, including fragrant ginger, garlic, and Thai chile peppers. It’s a tad bit sweet with plenty of heat and is topped with a lime pickled red onion relish and cilantro. Naturally gluten-free, and vegan.
  • Green Curry Ramen w/ Spring Vegetables: These bountiful green curry ramen bowls with soft boiled eggs are brimming with all things green including spring vegetables like spinach, leeks, and asparagus as well as avocado. Naturally vegetarian and gluten-free adaptable.

If you make this hot and sour soup I’d love your feedback. Please leave a comment and/or a rating below as I greatly value your opinion. Or snap a pic and tag me on Instagram @taoofspiceblog. Love, light, and happy cooking ya’ll ♥

Close up of hot and sour soup in a blue bowl.

Hot & Sour Soup

Yield: ~12 cups
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes

Enjoy this intensely flavorful and hearty hot and sour soup made from scratch. It's simple to prepare in just 30-minutes and guaranteed to be better than takeout!

Ingredients

For the pork

  • 8 ounces pork shoulder or tenderloin, thinly sliced against the grain (could sub for chicken)
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch

For the soup

  • 8 cups chicken broth
  • 3/4 cup white vinegar
  • 1/4 cup dark soy sauce (see notes)
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon ground white pepper + more to taste
  • 8 ounces firm tofu, sliced into 1-1 1/2 inch by 1/4-1/2 inch strips
  • 1 can bamboo shoots, drained and julienned
  • 1 medium carrot, peeled and julienned
  • 4 ounces sliced Shiitake mushrooms (optional)
  • 2/3 cup cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 large eggs

Instructions

  1. In a small bowl, toss the pork with two tablespoons of water. Once all of the water has soaked into the pork, toss it with 1 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil, 1/2 teaspoon of soy sauce, and two teaspoons of cornstarch and set aside for five to ten minutes. Meanwhile, prepare the remaining ingredients.
  2. Add the chicken stock to a large pot and bring it to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, stir in the pork.
  3. Add the white vinegar, dark soy sauce, soy sauce, sesame oil, and ground white pepper and stir to combine.
  4. Add the tofu, bamboo shoots, carrots, and mushrooms (optional) and allow to simmer over medium-low heat for ten minutes.
  5. After ten minutes, prepare the slurry in a small bowl by whisking together the cornstarch and 1/2 cup water. While stirring, slowly pour in the slurry.
  6. Whisk the eggs in a liquid measuring cup or a small bowl. If it's not already, bring the soup back to a simmer then while stirring in a circular motion, slowly pour the eggs into the soup. The idea here is to create a bit of a whirlpool to pour the eggs into it. You do not want to stir too fast or the eggs will break apart nor too slow or they will clump. This part can take some practice so if it doesn't turn out perfectly the first time, don't fret - it will still taste good.
  7. Add soy sauce and ground white pepper to taste. If you wish to add additional heat, I recommend adding some chili garlic sauce. Crushed red pepper flakes or even Sriracha would also be suitable. Serve warm garnished with sliced scallions.

Storage: Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight container for up to three days. To reheat, transfer to a saucepan over medium heat and cook until warmed through. Leftovers may also be frozen for up to three weeks. Make sure to cool it completely prior to transferring leftovers to an airtight container and placing the freezer.

Notes

  • While dark soy sauce is darker, richer, and sweeter than regular soy sauce, it is less salty. If you can't find any at your local supermarket, you can purchase at an Asian market or even Amazon (I have included a link below). If all else fails, The Woks of Life recommends using a combination of soy sauce, molasses, and granulated sugar as a replacement. You can find their recipe here.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 12 Serving Size: 1 cup
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 142Total Fat: 7gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 51mgSodium: 969mgCarbohydrates: 9gFiber: 1gSugar: 1gProtein: 9g

The nutritional information provided is computer generated. It is only an estimate and intended for informational purposes only. Nutrition details may vary depending on various factors such as origin, freshness of ingredients, etc

Did you make this recipe?

Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Instagram

Veronika Sykorova

Monday 3rd of January 2022

This looks incredible! I've never made soup with these flavors so I'm excited to try it! The fact that it can be made in 30 minutes is a great bonus!

Silvia

Monday 3rd of January 2022

My family is a big fan of hot and sour soups and we are always looking for new recipes to try. Your recipe is fantastic. Very easy to prepare and perfect for the season.

Marisa Franca

Sunday 2nd of January 2022

We've been making Hot and Sour Soup for years only it was the chicken version. When I saw your recipe I simply had to try it. I certainly wasn't disappointed. It has so much flavor and I really like the pork version better. This is one soup that we'll be making often.

Loreto and Nicoletta

Sunday 2nd of January 2022

I love hit and sour soup. With the temperatures plummeting below minus 30, this will ve a well recieved warm me upper. Great tips and so easy. I can smell that aroma of the broth. Jyst love that and yoursoup is so hearty, and volirful! Well done!

Cathleen

Saturday 1st of January 2022

Hot and sour soup is one of my favourite things to order when I am eating out. I can't believe I have never thought to make it myself until now! Bookmarked to make this week, thanks so much for the recipe!

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