Close up of Chinese spoon scooping up Hot and Sour Soup from bowl

With just 216 calories, Hot and Sour Soup just happens to be one of the healthiest mushroom soup recipes in the world! A Chinese restaurant favourite, it’s hearty, savoury, sour – and as spicy as you want it to be.

Filled with mushrooms, tofu and silky egg ribbons, Hot and Sour soup is thickened with cornflour/cornstarch so the broth is beautifully glossy. Serve as a starter with Fried Rice and Kung Pao Chicken, or have it as a meal!

Close up of Chinese spoon scooping up Hot and Sour Soup from bowl

Hot and Sour Soup
Can you handle the heat??

Hot and Sour Soup is what I order when I go out for Chinese and am pretending/trying to be healthy.

Hot and Sour Soup is also what I order just because I love it.

OK, well along with 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, trying to decide what starter to have! #FirstWorldProblems

I never thought to make it at home until I happened across this recipe from Woks of Life. It’s my go-to website for Chinese recipes, run by a Chinese American family who used to run a Chinese restaurant!

White pot with hot and sour soup, fresh off the Tove

What is hot and sour soup??

Hot and Sour soup is a Chinese soup that’s savoury, spicy and tangy. The broth is thickened and it’s filled with mushrooms, tofu, bamboo shoots and silky egg ribbons. The flavour and textures in this soup are an addictive combination, making it a firm Chinese restaurant favourite!

What goes in Hot and Sour Soup
The soup broth

Chinese Hot and Sour soup broth is made with chicken stock which is flavoured with typical Asian ingredients such as soy sauce, sugar, pepper and ginger. The soup is thickened slightly using cornstarch/cornflour – I love how the glossy broth coats the ingredients when you scoop it up!

The spiciness comes from finely chopped dried chillies. Red pepper / chilli flakes are a perfect substitute. Feel free to adjust spiciness to your taste!

The sourness comes from plain white vinegar. Some recipes use Chinese black vinegar or rice vinegar, but I honestly think white vinegar gives the cleanest flavour.

Ingredients for hot and sour soup broth - chicken or vegetable broth, soy sauce, sesame, vinegar, chilli, ginger, cornstarch, pepper, sugar

And the stuff that goes IN Hot and Sour Soup

Dried shiitake mushrooms
wood ear mushrooms
bamboo shoots
firm tofu
egg
shredded chicken
shallots/scallions

Because there’s a few ingredients that aren’t mainstream here, I’m going to do a quick rundown on each of them. If you’re bored, skip to the recipe!

What goes in Hot and Sour Soup

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The Mushrooms

Dried shiitake mushrooms – dried is best because it has the best flavour, so if you really want one as good as how your favourite Chinese restaurant makes it, you’ll need to source some. Sold at major supermarkets nowadays, and also Asian stores. Subs: Fresh shiitake is good, followed by any other Asian mushrooms, Swiss Brown/Cremini mushrooms and bringing up the rear is good ole’ white mushrooms
Wood ear mushrooms – named as such because they are shaped like ears (does that freak you out? 🙀), they have a soft crunchy texture. Wood ear mushrooms don’t have much taste when raw, but they are a great flavour sponge as well as adding great texture to the soup. Use fresh or dried – I use fresh because it’s sold at a local grocery store (eg Harris Farms). All Asian stores should carry dried, and some will have fresh. Subs: More shiitake mushrooms.

Mushrooms for Hot and Sour Soup - dried shiitake mushrooms and wood ear mushrooms

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And the other stuff in Hot and Sour Soup

Bamboo shoots – sold in cans at large grocery stores (Woolies, Coles, Harris), they have a crisp juicy texture and have a subtle taste. Mainly for texture in this soup. Subs: Any vegetable with a similar texture that can be cut into strips, like carrot, green beans, stalk of broccoli or cauliflower, or Asian greens. Use leftovers for stir fries, it’s ideal!
FIRM Tofu – Make sure it’s a firm tofu otherwise it will disintegrate when stirred. Squeeze the packet to be sure! If you can only get soft tofu, handle delicately and stir it in right at the end.
Chicken – I like to have a bit of protein in my Hot and Sour Soup, plus it’s poached in the broth so it adds flavour. But this is optional – there’s plenty of stuff in this soup even without! Alternatives: Shrimp/prawns, pieces of fish.
Eggs – to make the signature silky egg ribbons!
Shallots – aka scallions, green onions

Image of Hot and Soup Soup being ladled out of a pot, fresh off the stove

How to make it

While the list of ingredients seems lengthy, the making part is very straight forward. Also, this recipe has a nice flow to it so it should be done from start to finish, including prep time, in about 40 minutes:

Start by soaking the shiitake mushrooms to rehydrate them
Pour the chicken stock into the pot and as it’s coming to the simmer, measure out and add all the flavourings
While the chicken is poaching, get all the other “stuff” for the soup prepared (chop mushrooms, bamboo shoots etc etc)
Tip it all in the pot and finish by thickening the Hot and Sour Soup with cornstarch / cornflour and adding egg to make the egg ribbons

How to make Hot and Sour Soup

Calories in Hot and Sour Soup – just 216 calories!!!

A big bowl of spicy-tangy-savoury-hearty deliciousness, and it’s just 216 calories. There are very few Chinese takeout favourites that are this healthy!

The only other ones I can think of is Chinese Lettuce Wraps (San Choy Bow) and Egg Foo Young, but they aren’t as filling in their own right so when you add a good pile of Fried Rice, it isn’t quite as low cal. 😂

Add ins: I’ve been known to add leafy Asian greens and even baby spinach to up the veg quota. I’ve also been known to add rice, to fill it out. It’s really, really good! – Nagi x

PS Giving myself a big pat on the back for (finally) adding another recipe into my Low-Cal recipe collection!

Best of Chinese Takeout recipes

Spring Rolls – better than egg rolls!
Kung Pao Chicken
Beef and Broccoli
Chop Suey (Chicken Stir Fry)
Chow Mein
Cashew Chicken
Browse all Chinese recipes

Overhead photo of 2 bowls of Hot and Sour Soup, ready to be eaten

The BEST Chinese Soup for a cold!

Hot and Sour Soup is the BEST Chinese Soup for a cold! The clear broth, vinegar and spiciness are ideal for clearing chest and nasal congestion, and it’s a relatively light soup (though full of flavour!) so it’s easy to digest.

So when you want something different to Chicken Noodle Soup or Chicken Rice Soup when you’re feeling under the weather, try Hot and Sour Soup!

Watch how to make it

Hot and Sour Soup

Recipe video above. A firm Chinese starter favourite! A glossy soup broth that’s savoury, sour and as spicy as you want it to be, filled with mushrooms, tofu and bamboo shoots. Skip the chicken to make it meat free, or add shrimp/prawns or fish pieces. Serves 6 – 8 as a starter, or 4  as a light meal.

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 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))

Soup:

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)

Cover shiitake mushrooms with plenty of boiling water. Stand 20 – 30 minutes until soft, drain, then slice thinly. (Discard or reserve liquid for other use)

Poached chicken:

Place chicken broth, ginger, soy sauces, chilli, sugar and sesame oil in a large pot over medium high heat.
Once simmering, add chicken, cover and reduce heat so it’s simmering.
Cook 10 minutes, remove chicken and shred.

Finish Soup:

Add vinegar, shiitake, wood ear mushrooms, bamboo shoots, tofu and shredded chicken into the soup.

Stir, simmer for 10 minutes.

Mix cornflour with water. While stirring soup at a medium pace, slowly pour the cornflour mixture in (ensures no lumps).

When it starts simmering again, stir constantly and slowly pour egg in a thin stream – this will create the signature “egg ribbons”.

Taste – add salt if desired, more chilli if you want.
Add shallots and serve!

1. Mushrooms – for the most authentic flavour, use dried shiitake mushrooms. The flavour is more intense than fresh, and the texture is better. If you discover it’s still firm in the middle when slicing, put in broth first to finish rehydrating. Best sub is sis brown/cremini mushrooms, or other Asian mushrooms.

Wood ear mushrooms are also an essential ingredient for a true Chinese restaurant experience (see post for more info). Sold at some grocery stores (Harris Farms) and Asian groceries. If dried, soak with shiitake for 30 min. Can be skipped – use more shiitake.

2. Chilli – authentic versions use finely chopped dried Asian chillies. Deseed to make them less spicy. Red pepper / chilli flakes is a fine to use too – really can’t taste the difference.

3. Soy sauce – can sub dark soy with more light soy, or both for all purpose soy sauce. Do not use just dark soy sauce, broth flavour too strong.

4. Tofu – must be firm so it doesn’t disintegrate when soup is stirred. Just feel the packet – the firmer the better (but not rock hard!). If you can only find soft tofu, stir it in gently right at the end.

5. Bamboo shoots – sold sliced in tins sold at large supermarkets and Asian grocery stores. Need approx 1/3 of a 230g/7oz can. Use leftovers in stir fries, terrific texture!

Life of Dozer

Still pursuing a no dried-dog-food diet for Dozer, incorporating fresh meat and even vegetables (with advice from a professional!).

But if a single bit of kale doesn’t get blitzed up completely, he picks his way around it… #brat

Dozer leaving kale in food bowl

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