Chinese hot and sour soup is easy to make and ready in 15 minutes! Made with spicy chili garlic sauce, soy sauce, vinegar, and loaded with tofu and mushrooms! Vegetarian option included!
This Chinese hot and sour soup is just like the restaurant version if not better! It’s spicy from the chili pepper flakes and chili garlic sauce, sour from the vinegar, and savory from the soy sauce.
Shiitake mushrooms and tofu give this soup a meaty texture and the bamboo shoots give it a bit of texture. Use vegetable stock to make this a filling vegetarian hot and sour soup!
Why you’ll love this recipe
- It’s the perfect balance of hot and sour!
- Crushed Szechuan pepper flakes and chili garlic sauce give this soup a spicy kick.
- For the sour element, I used a combination of rice wine vinegar and black vinegar which gives it just the right amount of tartness.
- The tofu and mushrooms add protein and meaty texture to this vegetarian soup.
Ingredients you’ll need
- Stock – use vegetable stock for a vegetarian hot and sour soup, otherwise use chicken stock
- Firm tofu – use firm or extra firm tofu in this recipe. Soft or silken tofu will fall apart too easily
- Mushrooms – I prefer shiitake, wood ear mushrooms, or canned straw mushrooms. But any mushroom would be great.
- Bamboo shoots – buy the julienned bamboo shoots
- Eggs – these make thin, egg ribbons that are common in egg drop soup. Leave out the eggs for a vegan hot and sour soup.
Hot and Sour Soup Seasoning:
- Dark soy sauce – gives this soup a rich, dark color. Substitute with regular soy sauce if you don’t have it.
- Rice wine vinegar – adds a bright, sour flavor to this soup
- Chili garlic sauce – made with hot chili peppers and vinegar. Adds heat and acid to this soup.
- Cornstarch – used to thicken up the soup
Step by step instructions
Heat a large pot over medium high heat and add the stock. Once it simmers, add the mushrooms, bamboo shoots, and all the seasonings, such as soy sauce, vinegar, and chili garlic sauce.
Once it simmers, add the cornstarch slurry. Make sure to stir the cornstarch and water mixture as the cornstarch will have settled.
Stir the soup continuously in a circular motion and slowly drizzle in the beaten eggs while stirring. This will create thin egg ribbons in the soup.
Add the firm tofu into the soup and stir it gently.
Give it a taste and adjust for seasoning at this point. The mushrooms and tofu will release a bit of liquid, so you may need to add more vinegar or chili peppers.
Garnish with scallions and serve immediately.
Ingredient substitutions & variations
- Dark soy sauce – substitute with regular soy sauce. The soup won’t be as dark in color but it will still taste delicious!
- Black vinegar – substitute with black vinegar or any other vinegar. Black vinegar has a mild, sweeter taste so balsamic is the best substitute.
- Vegetarian hot and sour soup – use vegetable stock and add additional vegetables to make this a filling meal. Carrots, broccoli, corn, and peas would be great additions.
- Protein – traditionally, hot and sour soup is made with pork. Feel free to add in other protein sources such as chicken, shrimp, or beef.
Storing & reheating leftovers
Store leftovers in an airtight container and keep it in the fridge for up to 3 days. I recommend reheating leftovers on the stove top until it starts to simmer.
Frequently Asked Questions
It’s traditionally made with pork broth with mushrooms, tofu, and bamboo shoots. Vinegar and crushed red pepper add the signature sour taste and spicy flavor.
It’s relatively healthy as it’s low in fat and calories and a good source of protein from the tofu and eggs. Adjust the amount of sodium to your taste.
It’s thickened with a cornstarch and water mixture. The cornstarch is mixed with water and then added to the soup when it starts to simmer.
More Chinese recipes:
- Egg Drop Soup – Easy and Authentic
- The Best Chicken Lo Mein
- Healthy Chinese Chicken Salad
- Chinese Style Fried Garlic Green Beans
What to serve with hot and sour soup:
- Panda Express Kung Pao Chicken
- Spicy Szechuan Noodles with Garlic Chili Oil
- Stir Fried Shanghai Rice Cakes
- PF Chang’s Vegetarian Lettuce Wraps
Chinese Hot and Sour Soup
- 4 cups stock – use vegetable or chicken stock
- 3 Tablespoons cornstarch – mixed with 3 tablespoons of water; (see Note 1)
- 2 cups shiitake mushrooms – sliced ⅓ inch thick
- 8 oz canned bamboo shoots – drained
- 4 oz extra firm tofu – drained and cut into ½ inch thick cubes
- 2 large eggs – beaten
- 2 stalks scallions – chopped
Hot and Sour Soup Seasoning:
- 2 to 3 Tablespoons chili garlic sauce – adjust to taste
- 2 Tablespoons rice wine vinegar
- ½ to 1 Tablespoon black vinegar – substitute with balsamic or rice wine vinegar (see Note 2)
- 2 Tablespoon low sodium soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon dark soy sauce
- 1 clove garlic – minced
- ¾ teaspoon sugar
- ½ teaspoon ginger – grated
- ½ teaspoon toasted sesame oil
- ⅛ teaspoon white pepper powder – substitute with black pepper
- ½ teaspoon crushed Szechuan chili peppers – (optional)
- Heat a large pot over medium high heat. Add the stock and bring it to a simmer. Once it simmers, add the mushrooms, bamboo shoots, and all the ingredients for the hot and sour soup seasoning. Bring it back to a simmer.
- Once the soup simmers, add the cornstarch and water mixture to the pot. Be sure to give the mixture a stir before adding it as the cornstarch can settle. The soup will thicken up as it simmers.
- To add the beaten eggs, stir the soup in a circular motion and slowly drizzle in the beaten eggs. Stirring the soup will create thin egg ribbons that cook while being added.
- Next, add the tofu and stir gently so you don't break up the tofu.
- Adjust for seasoning. Add more vinegar, chili garlic sauce, or salt to taste.
- Garnish with chopped scallions and serve immediately.
- The cornstarch and water mixture is used thicken up the soup. You may need to add more if you find your mushrooms or tofu release a lot of liquid.
- Black vinegar is less tart than regular vinegars and has a sweet, smokey flavor. Its aged for complex flavors and has a deep, dark color. The best substitute is balsamic vinegar which has a similar taste, but you can use any vinegar as well.
*Nutritional information is an estimate, calculated using online tools.