Chinese hot and sour soup is an easy recipe ready in 15 minutes! The spicy and tangy broth is lightly thickened with cornstarch and eggs for a luscious texture. Each spoonful is packed with shiitake mushrooms, tofu, bamboo shoots, and chicken for a hearty appetizer.
Hot and sour soup is a classic Chinese appetizer with authentic flavors that deliver just the right proportion of spice and tanginess. It’s invigorating to the taste buds when done right. You’ll be surprised that the soup really isn’t spicy from chilis, but rather the white pepper gives it the characteristic invited burn.
The funny thing is, I never really enjoyed this soup when I was younger because I was always turned off by the intense vinegar taste. Well, it turns out that after testing this recipe, I’m realizing that what I may have had in the past just wasn’t properly balanced which makes a huge difference. So put the takeout menu down and lets cook!
What is in Chinese hot and sour soup?
The base of hot and sour soup consists of ginger, garlic, chicken thighs, and chicken stock. In addition, sliced shiitake mushrooms, bamboo shoots, and soy sauce add umami flavors that quickly infuses into the stock.
Chinese black vinegar creates a unique flavor and depending on the brand, may contain onions, sugar, tomato paste, carrot juice, and spices. It’s similar to Worcestershire sauce but with a stronger vinegar taste.
White pepper is the one ingredient that you must use that cannot be replaced. It has a unique sharp peppery bite and slightly smokey taste. It’s added at the end of cooking because the taste can become bitter if overheated.
How do you make Chinese hot and sour soup?
- Saute ginger and garlic, followed by chopped chicken thighs.
- Simmer mushrooms, bamboo shoots, vinegar, tofu, and seasonings in chicken stock.
- Add cornstarch slurry and cook until soup is thickened.
- Turn off heat and drizzle in whisked egg, stirring until strands appear.
- Serve soup hot garnished with green onions and chili oil.
How do you make vegan or vegetarian hot and sour soup?
To make the soup vegan or vegetarian you can swap out a few things. Do not add the chicken, and perhaps add in different types of mushrooms like wood ear or oyster. Use vegetable stock or broth instead of chicken stock. Omit the eggs, if needed you can add more cornstarch slurry for a thicker soup.
Make it a meal
Nothing beats a warm bowl of hot and sour soup. It’s the ultimate Asian comfort food you never knew you’d love so much. Adding in extra protein like tofu or pieces of roasted chicken, plus mushrooms make it a one-pot meal that you can enjoy alongside a bowl of steamed rice and stir-fried vegetables. I like to drizzle some hot chili oil on top to give it a different kind of heat.
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If you make this recipe, please let me know! Leave a comment, rate it, and don’t forget to tag a photo #jessicagavin on Instagram. I’d love to see what you come up with. Cheers, friends!
Can you substitute Chinese black vinegar?
Black vinegar gives the richest flavor and most balanced tanginess to the soup, but other types of vinegar can be used. I recommend distilled white vinegar or red wine vinegar. Start with 1 teaspoon so that you can gauge how strong the taste is, then gradually add more. Soy sauce can help balance the pungent flavor with savory notes if needed.
Hot and Sour Soup
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil, (15ml)
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic, (3g)
- 1 teaspoon minced ginger, (3g)
- 4 ounces boneless skinless chicken thighs, (113g) 1/8-inch thick slices
- 4 cups unsalted chicken stock, (960ml)
- 2 ounces shiitake mushrooms, (60g) 1/8-inch thick slices
- 1/4 cup bamboo shoots, (45g, 1 1/2 ounces) finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons Chinese black vinegar, (30ml)
- 1 teaspoon soy sauce , (5ml)
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil, (5ml)
- 1/2 teaspoon honey
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt, (8g)
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch, (16g)
- 1/4 cup water, (60ml)
- 8 ounces firm tofu, (227g) cut into 1/4-inch cubes
- 1 large egg, lightly whisked
- 1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper, (2g)
- 2 tablespoons green onions, (11g) thinly sliced
- hot chili oil, (optional)
- Heat a large pot over medium heat. Add the vegetable oil, once hot add the garlic and ginger, saute for 30 seconds.
- Add sliced chicken, saute until cooked through, 2 minutes.
- Add chicken stock and turn heat to medium-high, bring the stock to a simmer.
- Add mushrooms, bamboo shoots, vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, honey, and salt, stir to combine, simmer for 5 minutes.
- Add tofu and cook for 1 minute.
- Whisk together cornstarch and water in a small bowl. Gradually add to the soup, stirring constantly until the soup is slightly thickened, 1 to 2 minutes.
- Turn off the heat and drizzle in the whisked egg. Use a spoon to stir the soup using figure-eight motions, until you see strands of eggs appear.
- Add in the white pepper, stir to combine. Taste soup and adjust salt, pepper, and vinegar to taste.
- Garnish the soup with green onions and chili oil if using.
- MAKE IT GLUTEN-FREE: Substitute gluten-free tamari or coconut aminos for soy sauce. Use red wine vinegar or distilled vinegar if you are unsure that Chinese black vinegar is gluten-free.
- Black Vinegar Substitutes: Distilled white vinegar or red wine vinegar can be used; add 1 teaspoon at a time to gauge how strong the taste is, then gradually add more as desired.
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