Joanne Chang's Hot and Sour Soup

By • December 25, 2013 • 85 Comments



Author Notes: Restaurants and recipes for hot & sour soup invariably use cornstarch as a thickener, but it doesn't have to be that way. Yes, cornstarch plumps up the broth, but in doing so puts a hazy, viscous layer between us and the sour, spicy sting we crave. Chang's version is thickened with egg instead and makes a number of other smart updates without compromising what we love about the classic. From Flour, Too (Chronicle Books, 2013).Genius Recipes

Serves 4 to 6

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 garlic clove, smashed and minced
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
  • 4 scallions, white and green parts, minced, plus more for garnish
  • 8 ounces ground pork
  • 4 cups store-bought or homemade chicken stock
  • 1 pound soft or firm tofu (not silken and not extra firm), cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 4 or 5 medium button mushrooms, wiped clean and thinly sliced (or substitute dried, rehydrated wood ear mushrooms)
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cups rice vinegar, or to taste
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce, or to taste
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil, plus more for garnish
  • 1 tablespoon Sriracha sauce, or to taste
  • 2 large eggs
  • White or black pepper for garnish
  1. In the saucepan, heat the vegetable oil over medium-high heat until hot. Add the garlic, ginger, scallions, and pork and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 1 minute. You want to break up the pork into smaller pieces with a spoon, but don’t worry about breaking it down completely or cooking it through.
  2. Add the stock and bring to a simmer. Add the tofu, mushrooms, sugar, vinegar, soy sauce, black pepper, sesame oil, and Sriracha sauce and bring the soup back to a simmer over medium-high heat. Taste the soup. If you want it hotter, add more Sriracha sauce; if you want it more sour, add more vinegar.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk the eggs until blended. With the soup at a steady simmer, slowly whisk in the eggs so they form strands. Bring the soup back to a simmer. Divide the soup among 4 to 6 bowls and garnish each with a little sesame oil, scallion, and white or black pepper. Serve immediately. (Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. The soup may take on a slightly different appearance, but it will taste just the same.)
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Comments (85) Questions (0)

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2 months ago Melanie R

I've commented before, but I just have to say, THIS SOUP IS DA BOMB! I add 'spiralized zucchini' (zucchini is cut into what looks like spaghetti noodles) and pea pods, but not eggs. Lots of ground pork, chicken broth, spices, it is by far the best soup I've ever made.

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3 months ago Nerissa

Okay, I feel like a goof. I've made this several times and love it but I've drawn a blank on whether I used seasoned or unseasoned rice vinegar.

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3 months ago Kelly J

So good! Made this soup back in January, just finished blogging about it tonight: http://bigfoodsmallkitchenblog...

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3 months ago Kelly Dennison

Wow! Loved this! Perfect combo of hot and sour! I really enjoyed the egg as the thickening agent, also. Thanks for the recipe!

Stringio

3 months ago Katherine McKay

I use chiken instead of ground pork and don't use the hot sauce at all. It's still delicious. Thanks for sharing this recipe!

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4 months ago T-Rex

Great recipe. I used sambal instead of sriracha. Added some shelled edamame for a nutritional boost, too. Thank you!

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4 months ago Nyborg

I used toasted sesame oil.

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4 months ago Joani b

When the recipe calls for sesame oil, do they mean toasted sesame oil? I found that flavor a bit overpowering so I bought plain sesame oil but am surprised at how bland it is. Which is the intended ingredient?

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4 months ago RavensFeast

This recipe is so delightful! I started using Chinkiang black vinegar in place of the rice vinegar and love it even more. It gives a wonderful depth of flavor. Thanks for sharing.

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about 1 month ago Kelly Dennison

What is this magical Chinkiang black vinegar you speak of?? How is it different than the rice vinegar? I'm intrigued!

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5 months ago DessertByCandy

The flavor is spot on. Hot and sour soup is very much about the texture for me so I went with julienned ginger, carrots, shitake mushroom, and pork. I can't get enough of this goodness!

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5 months ago maryvelasquez

So flavorful! So fast! Grateful to have this recipe in my repertoire. Thank you!

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5 months ago riegelhaupt1

I think it would be wonderful without pork and don't think the tempeh is necessary. I do think the eggs are important.

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5 months ago daisybrain

Living in a vegetarian household I am used to adapting lots of recipes to my family's culinary culture. As such I'm wondering if anyone has feelings about using tempeh instead of pork rather than just upping the amount of mushrooms. Believe me I have NO problems using lots of shrooms I'm just wondering if tempeh would hold up and create some additional texture. I'm actually "funny" about tempeh and so don't use it very much but for some reason in this soup it seems like it would fit.

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5 months ago CelliSean

Maybe grated tempeh (I've never heard about grating it and suddenly there's grated tempeh everywhere)? What I've been doing is using two or more varieties of mushrooms: I'm veggie and BF doesn't like tofu all that much

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5 months ago daisybrain

I used the tempeh which I cut up into very small pieces and used a little extra oil in the initial sautee to make up for the lack of pork fat. I also used two varieties of mushrooms and plenty of tofu. The soup was hearty and delicious. I too might use a little less vinegar next time. Verdict, tempeh will work if you like that chew.

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5 months ago CelliSean

Made it again tonight... this time halving the tofu and using a mixture of cremini, shiitake and beech mushrooms. It's a more mushrooms the better household. I've been serving it over mung bean sprouts for a fresh crunch at the bottom of the bowl. I love this soup!

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5 months ago Tutti

Amazing!!! Im a vegetarian and didn't use pork. Instead, I added extra mushrooms, and it worked really well! Thank you!

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5 months ago Nyborg

Made it last night and it was delicious! Used shiitake mushrooms, and only 12 oz of tofu (1 lb is definitely too much), but otherwise stuck to the recipe. Grass fed pork was very tasty in this. The eggs really make it- they give the soup a perfect viscosity, and they do not make the soup into egg drop as someone suggested.

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5 months ago CelliSean

Made this tonight, with a few substitutions: veggie broth for the chicken, forgot to get more scallions, and when I found some beautiful oyster mushrooms at the store, I used them for the pork rather than the fried tofu I was planning on using. Found the freshest of ginger too.... absolutely delicious.

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5 months ago riegelhaupt1

This soup is spectacular. Always worried about what was in it from restaurants but this is delicious and good for you too. I too use pasture raised pork and free range eggs. Wonderful flavor — only change was to double recipe.

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5 months ago Heidi

This was so wonderful! I have avoided hot and sour soup in restaurants because the tofu and mushrooms were rubbery. The ground pork was a nice addition. The flavors were hot and tangy and all mingled together perfectly. I was worried it wouldn't be filling but one bowl did it! Thank you for this recipe!

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5 months ago Swiss Meringue

I made this soup tonight, followed the recipe precisely, and it was lovely - restaurant quality! Yes, the vinegar flavor is up front, but it's what I expected and I found it delicious. I used Animal Welfare Approved pasture raised grass-fed pork and eggs, and I find that makes an enormous difference in any recipe I cook. Perfect soup for a cold winter day!

Stringio

6 months ago Marie Weber

This is an excellent soup recipe. Comes out great even when I use weird substitutions or even forget ingredients! First time I only had spicy Italian pork sausage, a bit overwhelming but it it still disappeared almost instantly. Then last night I made it again but I forgot the eggs but I had also doubled up on meat and mushrooms to make it last a few more meals. So good!

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6 months ago Liesl

I would like the editors to remove some of the really nasty comments here. I hope that can be done.

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6 months ago Lui

I hate that people don't understand foreign cooking " I found vinegar over powering " to cooking it's like art , you look a picture and some May find it awesome and others lame , but it's until the moment that you read, experiment , smell and close your eyes feeling , smelling and absorbing inside your the senses of your mouth when you may tease the beauty of the dish , it's offensive , rude and ignorant to comment whe you don't even know the root and flavor of the dish .

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6 months ago Molly Carson

I am sorry that you HATE me and think I am offensive, rude and ignorant because I prefer only 1/2 cup vs. 3/4 cup vinegar. Everyone has their own likes and dislikes. I can't tell you how many times I have ordered General Tso's Chicken at different venues and they taste totally different than the last one I had. I DO understand foreign cooking and cook various dishes quite often, it is one of my favorites! Just recently I found this site and really enjoy the recipes and hopefully your comment is a rouge one. I deeply believe everyone is entitled to their own comments without being called rude, ignorant, offensive and HATED . My goodness, girl, chill!!

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5 months ago michele's feast

YIKES!!

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6 months ago JR

I made this two days ago and I'm very pleased with the result. It is now my second favorite hot and sour soup after the version I get at the Chinese restaurant I grew up with. I prepared it exactly as written with one addition. I included a can of bamboo shoots. It's easy to adjust the spice at the table with a bit more Sriracha. I didn't find the vinegar to be overpowering but it certainly didn't need any more than the recipe calls for in my taste. This is the first recipe I've used off this site and I'll be a frequent visitor. Leftovers for lunch here in just a bit.

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6 months ago Crystal

I followed the recipe exactly except I substituted ground turkey for ground pork. It was ok but not great. The vinegar was overpowering and didn't let the other flavors come through. I will make this again but I will use less vinegar (1/2 cup) and better chicken stock (used store bought).

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5 months ago Bradley

I agree - this was just an OK recipe. The best thing I can say about it is that it's easy and fast, so I might consider making it again for a quick weeknight dinner. I'd definitely suggest starting with less vinegar, and adding more to taste. I also ended up adding some rice noodles to make it a more substantial meal.

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6 months ago Molly Carson

Absolutely delicious but I did add bean sprouts. I will next time decrease the vinegar to 1/2 cup, double the Sriracha sauce and again add the bean sprouts. It is so nice to be able to make this at home.. What a great find this was!! THANKS.

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5 months ago Kathleen

Thanks for the suggestions!

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6 months ago kate

I've made this three times in last few weeks - cannot get enough!

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6 months ago ChristyBean

The first time I made this soup, I wouldn't shut up about it during dinner while we were eating it. Then immediately after finishing the meal, I continued to tell my partner how good it was, and how much I was looking forward to eating it again. I couldn't wait to eat it the next day for lunch! I'm about to go out for more tofu and scallions to make it again, and I can't wait! I omitted the pork, and it's become practically a pantry-staple dish! I'm hooked, officially!

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6 months ago mainesoul

Excellent soup

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7 months ago Howie

Just tried this and it is excellent. Easy and fast to make and the possibilities are endless. Thanks so much for sharing this

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7 months ago Joe

Just tried this recipe.... Excellent, Simple, flavorful and hearty. Added veggies instead of meat. Loved it!!

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7 months ago Sonia R

Best hot and sour soup ever- recipe so easy to follow; I made it exactly per recipe.....

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7 months ago Jodi Pope

I thought it was pretty tasty. I omitted the pork and the tofu and used veggie broth as well. However when I added the egg is didn't really do what I think it was supposed to. Maybe I whisked too fast???

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7 months ago jan

I will make this but with no flesh and with veggie broth. I don't need any growth hormones, cholesterol, antibiotics, tumors, feces, pis, pus, in my food...no thanks...organic produce, whole grains, nuts and seeds work just find for me and my hubby!

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7 months ago Karen

Wow. At least you're not judgmental. Haha.

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6 months ago JR

Jan do you kiss your partner, you filthy cannibal?

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7 months ago Ruby Maurine

Hot&Sour Soup is my Very Favorite Satisfying Food (next to Icecream)...and I am going to make my own from now on..thanks to this recipe..Please advise me If Braggs Raw Apple Cider Vinegar would be a good substitute for the Rice Vinegar without changing the taste of the soup...don't to make a batch that I wont like..Thank You

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6 months ago JR

I'd probably avoid that substitution but if you do try it, I'd think backing off on the amount would be a good idea.

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7 months ago Robert

I will try this. We had a local place called "Asian Wok" that went under and I have not had a really good bowl of H&S since. I hope this will compare.

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7 months ago Animal Al

I've been making H&S soup for many years and the variation detailed here works pretty well. Sriracha does kick it up, but if you have the time, Chinese preserved cabbage is the old school way to go. Also, use staw mushrooms. You'll like them much better.
I do prefer to roast a pork loin in convection oven with a brown sugar marinade/glaze. Then slice the pork and serve in the soup. It's much more flavorful and not boiled to heck.

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7 months ago Melanie R

I've got a stupid question.... Is the Rice Vinegar the sweet and tangy flavor? We LOVE Hot & Sour soup, hoping to make this tonight!

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7 months ago Kristen Miglore

Kristen is the Executive Editor of Food52

Yes, it should taste very familiar! Although Chinese black vinegar also often used.

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7 months ago Dorothy

This recipe is way off nothing like the chinese make it. What a waste of ingredients and time

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7 months ago Azar Attura

The original article explains the use of non-traditionalingredients. Nothing this wonderful s a waste of time.

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7 months ago Malieka

Really great recipe. It was very easy to make and tasted fantastic. This will definitely go into my repertoire of staple recipes.

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7 months ago Leslie

I keep kosher so I substituted ground chicken for the pork. I appreciated not having to substitute anything else. It was delicious and so easy.

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7 months ago LynneT

I made this and it is DIVINE! I am not a hothead so I reduced the Sriracha to 2 teaspoons, but OMG. I loved it and will make it a lot.

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7 months ago twinjadojo

Delicious, delicate version of the velvety favorite. It comes together so quickly, too. Next time I need to make sure my soup is at a bare simmer before adding the egg--my pot was too hot, resulting in micro-bits of instantly cooked egg. I reduced the vinegar and sriracha by half to accommodate my tiny diners. Alas, they refused to try it. There will be plenty of future opportunities for them to try it. Next time with more veggies thrown in.

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7 months ago GSmodden

I am fighting off a wicked cold and I made this a few days ago. This was a very easy recipe for a sick, sluggish person to tackle. At the moment, I can taste very little, but the spices and warmth of this dish cut through my stuffed sinuses. I imagine I will make this soup again when I'm well.

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7 months ago Mike

To change the subject: Does anyone know where to find cantonese "pressed duck".

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7 months ago JohnL

Haven't heard of that, but one of my all-time favorite Chinese dishes is Wor Shu Op, AKA Peking Pressed Duck. It's duck simmered in dark soy, ginger, scallion, star anise and five spice powder until nice and tender. After draining and cooling, it's carefully boned out. Then the split duck halves are dipped in egg white and coated in water chestnut powder and steamed until the coating becomes gray and gelatinous. Then it's cooled again the duck halves (or quarters) are pressed between two heavy plates and refrigerated until stone cold at which point you can either freeze them for later or deep fry them to the most incredible crunchiness outside and inner melting tenderness, with just a smudge of succulent fat remaining beneath the crackling skin. Then the fried slabs are cut with cleaver into 3/4-inch wide pieces and arranged over shredded iceberg lettuce, and finally (whew!) topped with either a special version of sweet & sour sauce (my favorite) or a sauce made from the braising liquid. I was addicted to this at a restaurant back in the 1970's in D.C.'s China Town called Ruby's Restaurant, along with Woo Hip Har (shrimp) and Roast Pork Chow Foon, and Crispy Orange Beef. The duck dish is mentioned by Craig Claiborne in the intro to his New New York Times Cookbook, and he apparently dined on it while flying in a jet over Poughkeepsie. Quite a story! Is that the dish? There is an old book worth seeking out called Jim Lee's Chinese Cookbook probably dating back to the 1960's with a detailed instruction on how to prepare it. Also, Elaine Kuo explains it in her Key to Chinese Cooking cookbook. That dish just might be my "last meal" if I had to pick one. Trader Vic's used to do something similar, but the version I make at home based on Jim Lee's recipe is the best I've ever had.

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7 months ago JohnL

Oh, and the dish is topped with crushed toasted almonds. And no, I don't know if its made any more, I haven't seen it in years. Too labor intensive. Far more involved than a mere Peking Duck, but its a true culinary orgasm.

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7 months ago Mike

Thanks John. Sounds delicious. In the 1960's there was a restaurant called "Carrie Lee's" in Birmingham, MI, that made the most fantastic pressed duck.

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7 months ago Nadine Krause Bandt

yummm love wor shu op Carrie Lee Gardens in Waterfod MI

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7 months ago JohnL

Sounds like you all miss it as much as I miss it here. BUT it can be made at home, and it does turn out great. I like to take my time and prepare it over a 3-day period so I don't stress out. I used to make 2 ducks at one time and I simmered them both together. I kept a private stash of wor shu op in my freezer. Like I said, it would be a top contender for my "last meal". BTW, I said Elaine Kuo had the recipe in her book, its actually Irene Kuo. Definitely worth ordering one off Amazon. Jim Lee's book was excellent, too, with those classic old preparations you don't seem to see much any more. What a joy it is to know how to make your own!

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7 months ago Mike

Nadine: Is that the same Carrie Lee that was in Birmingham in the 1960's?
Mr. Lee would be gone by now, but his grandchildren were a few years younger than me. Maybe they carried on his legacy in the restaurant business?

Stringio

7 months ago Nadine Krause Bandt

I am not sure Mike. My parents took me there when I was a kid and we still frequented Carrie Lee until about 20 yrs ago.. The wasn't anything decent in Hartland 30 yrs ago... Not sure all I knew is that my Dad loved War Shu Op and always shared with me :)

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7 months ago Mike

Thanks Nadine. I've moved away, but next time I visit relatives in the area, will stop at Carrie Lee Gardens and have the wor shu op.

Stringio

7 months ago LeadingLatte

This was my first time making a Chinese soup at home, and Chef Chang's ingredient modifications made it seem so simple and easy to put together that I just had to try it. O. M. G. So tasty -- I highly recommend. The vinegar and sriracha are to taste, and I increased both (I probably put in a full cup of the rice vinegar) and then I have no idea how much sriracha I added, because I like my soup spicy. That said, the recommended amounts are a great place to start the first time out, because its enough to give you a good sense of the dish, but allows a lot of wiggle room for those who want a milder dish. Thank you, Chef!

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7 months ago Dale Meech

I love hot sour soup and its cousin O O soup. I bought it at House of Hunan in Akron Ohio years ago. I would very much like a recipe for O O soup. Can anyone help with my quest?

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7 months ago Roxanne

Can you recommend how to make this vegetarian? The eggs are fine, but I'd like to find a substitution for the pork. Thanks!

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7 months ago donna zartman

just leave out the meat..

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7 months ago catalinalacruz

I added more mushrooms in place of the pork. Turned out great.

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7 months ago DebJ

This is a delicious soup! Yes, easy to make. Had all ingredients on hand - thinly sliced a boneless piece of pork I had in the freezer and it worked very well. The balance of all the flavors was just right. Thank you!

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7 months ago shoesthatilike

This soup was easy to make and very satisfying for a winter meal. I think thin slices of pork would have been more texturally pleasing than ground meat, but for a quick meal I don't think it matters that much.

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7 months ago Alison

Really good! Easy to make and healthy at that. I haven't ever tried to make hot and sour soup -- this wasn't intimidating and I will definitely make it again. Added bean sprouts too, left out the mushrooms.

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7 months ago Anthony Back

Easy and terrific!

Stringio

7 months ago JohnH

Sorry, but I'm the one to knock this. I was worried it would be too vinegary from the amount of rice vinegar, so only added the minimum. Nonetheless, it just tasted sharp and far too much of vinegar, with no depth of flavour. I've cooked Ken Hom's Fragrant Prawn & Lemongrass soup from his 'cooks Thai' book before which is also a hot and sour soup, and it is vastly superior to this.

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7 months ago JohnL

Ken Hom always amazes me. One of my favorites is the salad he calls Cold Tomato Cubes Tossed in Tarragon and Sesame Oil, from his East Meets West Cuisine book. I love the way his food tastes. What are some of your other favorite Hom dishes?

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7 months ago spiffypaws

I made this last night and loved it. Perfect antidote to the very decadent meal I had xmas day. I think I'd add more ginger next time.

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7 months ago LeeLeeBee

I was skeptical, but this recipe was great! Was it the BEST hot and sour soup I've ever had? No - but it was quick, easy, healthy, and I could pick up everything I needed on the way home from work. It's a great weeknight dinner option.

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7 months ago Scotty Parks

Are you kidding me with this? AWESOME recipe. Made it last night for 3 and we were fat and happy. Feel free to go ahead and label this bad boy as totally affordable and filling! Thanks team. ;)

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7 months ago MCH

Very good! Added shrimp instead of tofu and added bean sprouts. Great flavor.

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7 months ago chickadee

Fabulous! Might add a bit of cilantro as a garnish next time!

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7 months ago Melissa Kogut

Delicious! Easy. Yum.

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7 months ago Kim1129

I made this tonight with a few omissions - left out the sugar, Sriracha, and eggs. It was delicious ! Also, go light on oil

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7 months ago Karen

Oh my gosh. Yum!

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7 months ago JoAnn W.

I make my own hot and sour soup also, but I have to try your version which seems easier than the lengthly recipes I usually see--well done!