Hot and Sour Soup

A staple on any Chinese takeout menu, this soup is surprisingly easy to make at home. This is great news for a few reasons, but the main one is you can easily make it conform to your tastes. For example, you can play with the hot vs sour ratios and swap out any ingredients you’re not terribly fond of for ones you prefer! Not a fan of celery? Try a little bok choy! Don’t want pork? Switch out your meat, or skip it altogether and go with a vegetarian version. There are really only 3 absolutely essential ingredients (four if you count the base liquid) to give you that thick hot and sour soup base you’ll love. Everything else is up for debate!

Time: 30 Minutes


  • Base liquid. You can use basically any stock (vegetable, chicken, beef, etc.), but since I only have chicken bouillon in my pantry at the moment, I’ll be using that and water.
  • Rice Vinegar
  • Red Pepper Flakes
  • Corn Starch
  • Soy Sauce (optional, but suggested)
  • Sugar (optional to cut down the acidity a little)
  • Protein(s). We are using just tofu tonight, but shredded pork, chicken, or beef would be good too
  • Vegetables. We are using shredded carrots, julienned celery, and sliced mushrooms. Bamboo shoots, sliced water chestnuts, and/or sliced bok-choy would go well too.


  • Cut up all your veggies, and set them aside
  • Cut your proteins into long and very thin pieces. If you’re using pork/chicken/beef, this is much easier to do if you put your meat in the freezer for 15-20 minutes so it starts to harden but doesn’t freeze through. That way, it holds its form nicely as you cut, and you aren’t attempting to cut through a brick. After cut, set aside, and let the pieces warm back to room temperature.
  • Heat your base liquid of choice to a simmer, and add in some vinegar, red pepper flakes, soy sauce, and sugar (amounts vary by your tastes). Taste and adjust as you go until you have the right general base flavour you want. The rest of the ingredients will finish off the flavour for you.
  • Add your sliced proteins, and stir around until they are mostly cooked (will be quicker the thinner you’ve sliced.
  • Add your veggies, and stir them around with the protein.
  • When your protein is cooked, and your veggies are to your desired level of tenderness, take another sip of the broth, and add in any last adjustments to the spice level or sourness.
  • In a measuring cup, dissolve and stir together some corn starch with a little water (as little water as possible to dissolve is the way to go). Don’t pour the corn starch directly into your soup, or it will clump and not work as the thickening agent we want it to be.
  • Pour your corn starch mixture into your soup, and simmer until it thickens to the texture you want. If it remains too thin after a few minutes, just pour in another load of dissolved corn starch (I had to do two rounds of thickening).
  • Plate, devour (with caution because it will be hot), and enjoy!

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