Hot and Sour soup is filled with mushrooms, tofu, and egg ribbons, and the broth is thickened with cornflour/cornstarch so that it is glossy. Serve as an appetiser alongside Fried Rice and Kung Pao Chicken, or consume as a main dish!
Hot and Sour Soup
Can you handle the heat??
I get Hot and Sour Soup when I go out for Chinese food and am pretending to be healthy.
I also get Hot and Sour Soup simply because I adore it.
Okay, in addition to Spring Rolls, Chinese Corn Soup, San Choy Bow (Lettuce Wraps), Egg Foo Young (Chinese Omelettes), and Sesame Toast. It’s an all-out war of indecision deciding what appetiser to have!
I never considered making it at home until I discovered this recipe in Woks of Life. It is my go-to website for Chinese recipes, managed by a family of Chinese Americans who formerly owned a Chinese restaurant!
What is hot and sour soup??
Chinese Hot and Sour soups are savoury, spicy, and acidic. The broth has been thickened, and it contains mushrooms, tofu, bamboo shoots, and egg ribbons. The combination of flavour and texture in this soup makes it a solid favourite in Chinese restaurants!
What goes in Hot and Sour Soup
THE SOUP BROTH
The broth of Chinese Hot and Sour soup is created from chicken stock that has been seasoned with Asian-style spices such as soy sauce, sugar, pepper, and ginger. The soup is gently thickened with cornflour or cornflour; I adore how the shiny broth coats the ingredients when scooped up.
The spiciness comes from dried chillies that have been finely minced. Red pepper flakes are an excellent replacement. Feel free to modify the level of heat to your liking!
The sourness is derived from white vinegar. Some recipes call for Chinese black vinegar or rice vinegar, but I believe white vinegar imparts the most pristine flavour.
AND THE STUFF THAT GOES IN HOT AND SOUR SOUP
- Dried shiitake mushrooms
- wood ear mushrooms
- bamboo shoots
- firm tofu
- shredded chicken (or drop in slices of tenderized Velveted Chicken)
Because there are a few uncommon ingredients in this dish, I will briefly describe each of them. If you are bored, go directly to the recipe!
Dried shiitake mushrooms
If you want a dish as wonderful as the one at your favourite Chinese restaurant, you’ll need to find some dried ingredients. Currently available in both big supermarkets and Asian businesses. Fresh shiitake mushrooms are the best substitute, followed by Asian mushrooms, Swiss Brown/Cremini mushrooms, and white mushrooms.
Wood ear mushrooms
Named so because of their ear-like shape (does it frighten you? They possess a soft, crunchy consistency. Raw wood ear mushrooms do not have much flavour, but they are an excellent flavour sponge and give a terrific texture to the soup. Use fresh or dried – I use fresh because it is available at my local supermarket (eg Harris Farms). All Asian stores should have dried products, and some will carry fresh products.
AND THE OTHER STUFF IN HOT AND SOUR SOUP
Bamboo shoots – They are sold in cans at large supermarkets (Woolies, Coles, Harris) and have a crisp, juicy texture and delicate flavour. Mostly for texture, the vegetables in this soup. Any vegetable with a comparable texture can be sliced into thin strips, such as carrots, green beans, broccoli or cauliflower stalk, or Asian greens. Ideal to use leftovers for stir fry!
FIRM Tofu – Ensure that the tofu is firm; else, it will fall apart when stirred. Squeeze the package to make certain! If you can only find soft tofu, handle it with care and add it at the very end.
Chicken – I prefer a touch of protein in my Hot and Sour Soup, and the broth-poached chicken adds flavour. However, this is optional, as the soup contains enough ingredients even without it! Alternatives: shrimp/prawns and fish chunks
Eggs – in order to create the trademark smooth egg ribbons!
Shallots – also known as scallions and green onions
How to make it
Although the list of components appears large, the actual preparation is quite simple. Also, this dish has a wonderful flow, so it should be completed in approximately 40 minutes, including preparation time:
- Start by rehydrating the shiitake mushrooms by soaking them.
- As the chicken stock comes to a simmer in the pot, measure out and add all of the seasonings.
- While the chicken is poaching, prepare the remaining ingredients for the soup (chop mushrooms, bamboo shoots, etc).
- Pour everything into the soup pot and finish by thickening the soup with cornstarch/cornflour and adding an egg to produce egg ribbons.
Calories in Hot and Sour Soup – just 216 calories!!!
A large bowl of spicy, tangy, savoury, and hearty delight with only 216 calories. There are few Chinese takeouts favourites as nutritious as these!
Chinese Lettuce Wraps (San Choy Bow) and Egg Foo Young are the only others I can think of, but they aren’t as satisfying on their own, so when you add a heaping layer of Fried Rice, it isn’t quite as low in calories.
I have been known to increase the vegetable quota by including Asian greens and even baby spinach. I have also been known to add rice as a filler. It’s extremely, extremely good!
The BEST Chinese Soup for a cold!
The BEST Chinese Soup for a cold is Hot and Sour Soup. The clear broth, vinegar, and spiciness are good for removing chest and nasal congestion, and the soup’s relative lightness makes it easier to digest.
Try Hot and Sour Soup instead of Chicken Noodle Soup or Chicken Rice Soup the next time you’re feeling under the weather.
- 220 g / 7oz chicken breast
- 12 dried shiitake mushrooms (or 150g/5oz fresh) (Note 1)
- 1/2 cup wood ear mushrooms, chopped 1.5cm/ 3/5″ pieces (Note 1)
HOT AND SOUR SOUP BROTH:
- 1 tsp dried chilli / red pepper flakes, adjust the spice to taste (Note 2)
- 2 tsp dark soy sauce (Note 3)
- 1 tbsp light soy sauce (Note 3)
- 1 tsp ginger, finely grated
- 1/2 tsp white pepper (sub-black)
- 6 cups (1.5L/1.5qt) chicken or veg stock/broth, low sodium
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1/4 cup (65 ml) white vinegar (adjust to taste)
- 125 g / 4oz firm tofu (~ 1 cup), cut into 1.2cm / 0.5″ cubes (Note 4)
- 1/4 cup bamboo shoots, thinly sliced (Note 5)
- 2 eggs, whisked
- 1/4 cup (40g) cornstarch/cornflour
- 1/4 cup (125 ml) water
- Salt to taste
- 1 shallot/scallion, finely sliced
Inundate shiitake mushrooms with boiling water. Leave for 20 to 30 minutes until tender, then drain and thinly slice. (Discard or reserve liquid for a different use).
- Over medium heat, combine chicken broth, ginger, soy sauce, chilli, sugar, pepper, and sesame oil in a big saucepan.
- Once the sauce is cooking, add the chicken, cover, and decrease the heat to a simmer.
- Cook chicken for 10 minutes, then removes and shred.
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