Hot and Sour Soup is a Chinese-American restaurant favorite. A very hearty and tangy soup full of mushrooms, tofu, and bamboo shoots.
When dining out (or ordering take-out) at many Chinese restaurants across the United States, you will often be given a choice between Hot and Sour Soup and Egg Drop Soup with your meal. Many restaurants also offer Wonton Soup as an option. I do love Wonton Soup and Egg Drop soup but have to admit that I have a slight preference toward Hot and Sour Soup.
Making Hot and Sour Soup at home allows you to tailor the soup to your taste. You can make it as spicy or as tangy as you want! You could even add some ground pork or chicken for some extra protein.
One of my favorite ingredients in Hot and Sour Soup is the thin, crunchy strips of wood ear mushroom. It provides such great texture to the soup in contrast with the soft, silky egg and tofu.
How to Make Hot and Sour Soup
Soak 2 – 3 dried shiitake mushrooms, and about 1 oz of dried wood ear mushrooms in hot water until the dried mushrooms have reconstituted (about 20 to 30 minutes). If you are using pre-shredded dried wood ear mushrooms, they will only need to soak in warm water for a few minutes.
After the dried mushrooms have reconstituted, squeeze the excess water out of the mushrooms, then cut the mushrooms into thin slices.
Mix 3 tablespoons of cornstarch with 1/2 a cup of water. Stir well, making sure to break up all of the cornstarch clumps. This corn starch is what will make the Hot and Sour Soup thicken. We will add it to the soup at a later time so set it aside for now.
Bring 6 cups of chicken stock to boil over in a large pot over medium-high heat. I recommend using Chinese Chicken Stock for this recipe if you are able to prepare it ahead of time, but you can also use any store-bought chicken stock.
Pour the sauce mixture into the pot of chicken stock.
Add the sliced shiitake mushrooms and sliced woodear mushrooms to the soup.
Next, add 3/4 cup of bamboo shoots (julienned; simply cut the bamboo shoot slices into thin strips).
Give the cornstarch mixture a good stir, then pour it into the soup. Stir the soup immediately to allow the cornstarch to thicken the soup evenly.
Add 2 teaspoons of Szechuan chili oil. If you like your Hot and Sour Soup super spicy, you may also wish to add dried chili flakes.
If you prefer a non-spicy version of the soup, you may wish to omit the chili oil. I tend to omit the chili oil when I prepare this soup at home so that my younger son is able to enjoy this soup with us.
Lightly beat two eggs in a small bowl. Pour the beaten eggs into the soup in a slow, steady stream.
While pouring the eggs, use a pair of chopsticks to swirl the soup. Swirl quickly to get a thin, silky egg consistency, or swirl slowly to get a chunkier texture.
Next, add 1/2 a cup of diced tofu to the soup. You can use either silky or firm tofu based on your preference.
Add a few dashes of ground white pepper or black pepper.
Gently stir the soup to combine all the ingredients.
Transfer the soup to a large serving bowl, or small individual bowls. Top with chopped scallions just before serving.
You can keep leftover Hot and Sour Soup in the fridge for up to 3 days, or freeze the soup for up to 6 months. To reheat the soup, simply bring it to boil for a few minutes.
If you are freezing the soup, I would recommend storing the soup in Ziploc bags. To reheat the frozen soup, you will first need to thaw it. Simply fill your sink or a large bowl with water, then place the Ziploc bag with the frozen soup in the water to thaw it quickly. When mostly thawed, transfer the soup to a pot and bring it to a boil on your stovetop.
Hot and Sour Soup
- 2 – 3 dried shiitake mushrooms
- 1 oz dried wood ear mushrooms
- 3 tablespoons corntarch
- 1/2 cup water
- 6 cups chicken stock
- 1/2 cup apple cider vingear
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 3 teaspoons sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon dark soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 3/4 cup bamboo shoots
- 2 teaspoons Szechuan chili oil
- 2 eggs lightly beaten
- 1/2 cup diced tofu
- 3 dashes ground white pepper or black pepper
- 2 stalks scallions chopped
- Soak dried mushrooms in hot water until they have reconstituted (about 20 – 30 minutes)
- Squeeze out any excess water from the mushrooms, then cut into thin slices.
- Mix cornstarch with 1/2 cup water. Stir well, then set aside.
- Bring chicken stock to a boil in a large pot over medium-high heat.
- In a small bowl, combine apple cider vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, dark soy sauce and brown sugar. Pour this sauce mixture into the pot of chicken stock.
- Add the sliced mushrooms to the soup, followed by the bamboo shoots.
- Give the cornstarch mixture a good stir, then pour it into the soup. Stir the soup immediately to allow the cornstarch to thicken the soup evenly.
- Add Szechuan chili oil to the soup (if you prefer a non-spicy soup, omit this step).
- Pour the beaten eggs into the soup in a slow, steady stream.
- While pouring the eggs into the soup, use a pair of chopsticks to swirl the soup. Swirl quickly to get a thin, silky egg consistency, or swirl slowly to get a chunkier texture.
- Add the diced tofu and the ground white or black pepper to the soup.
- Stir to combine all ingredients, then transfer to serving bowls.
- Top with chopped scallions just before serving.