Joanne Chang's Hot and Sour Soup

By • December 25, 2013 114 Comments

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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 cup 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.)

Topics: Soup

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Comments (114) Questions (1)

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3 months ago sjlongin

I've always loved the flavor of hot and sour soup but the goopy consistency, not so much. This recipe solved that problem and was absolutely delicious. Also super quick and easy. I followed the recipe almost exactly, just swapping mushroom broth for the chicken and only using 1/2 cup rice vinegar because that's all I had. My family devoured it! Next time, a double batch...

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6 months ago barbara konecny

Didn't have some of the ingredients on hand, but made this tonight subbing a lot of mushrooms for the pork and tofu. We also caramelized leeks in the oven with some of the sauces (olive oil, sriracha, vinegar and soya sauce), and added the leeks, hard boiled eggs, and tapioca noodles just before serving. Fantastic.

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6 months ago Heidi Shires

I use Pacific Foods mushroom broth as my base. I also add a lot of veggies to bulk it up and make it as free-standing meal~ bamboo strips, bok choy, bean sprouts (as garnish) and chopped snow peas. This is truly one of my favorite recipes and am quite glad my kids aren't fans! More for me!

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6 months ago Heidi Shires

I also add a GENEROUS amount of Five Spice. I grind my own so it isn't nearly as costly as buying it at the grocery.

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6 months ago Kate McGinnis

add thin strips of bamboo shoots and you are good to go!

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6 months ago Suma

eating this as we speak. Made the recipe exactly as written and love it

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7 months ago Ellen

This looks really good! Will it keep for one or two days or not so much because of the eggs?

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6 months ago Kristen Miglore

Kristen is the Executive Editor of Food52

Hi Ellen, it will keep just fine for a couple days in the fridge -- sorry for the delay.

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7 months ago Stephanie

has anyone made this vegan with veg broth and no pork, any suggested substitutes

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7 months ago LDGourmet

This would be delicious vegetarian or vegan. Add more mushrooms to amp up the umami.

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6 months ago daisybrain

I use tempeh instead of pork and use lots of mushrooms. I also add bean sprouts, bamboo shoots and sometimes baby corn. We're not vegan but my husband does NOT like egg in soup so I always leave it out. They always say it is the best hot and sour soup ever.

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6 months ago Heidi Shires

I use Pacific Foods Mushroom Broth in place of the chicken broth. I love the earthy flavor with the soup.

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7 months ago Rey Compañeros

Loved it!

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7 months ago Leslie Hill

Have made this many times, and it's a family favorite. We have soy allergies, so sub. one full pound of organic ground pork, and use coconut aminos for the soy sauce. Be careful on the amount of Sriracha. Maybe start with 2 tsp. and then add more if desired. If making a day ahead, wait to add the egg 'till reheating.

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7 months ago LDGourmet

Added shredded cabbage (gives the soup a little texture and cabbage is so good this time of year) also cloud ear mushrooms. White pepper and szechuan chile oil. I think peas or edamame would be good and tiger lily buds which are a classic ingredient are nice if you can find them. I live on the edge of Chinatown and even so, they're only available intermittently.

We call it "seun lah tong" which is literally translated as "sour spicy soup" - it's a real "reviver" type of soup. Colds, blues, hangovers...

Also, I used half chicken, half beef stock - as this was what was on hand, kicking around the fridge.

Cilantro if you're in the "love it" camp, is very nice garnish.

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7 months ago Lorenza

Very nice. I made a few changes. Had a slice of porchetta purchased from Costco during the holidays. Lovely. Added bamboo shoots, a must for hot and sour soup. Had a stalk of lemongrass and added a 6" piece to the simmer. No black vinegar, subbed a sharp balsamic. White pepper for the heat. Have been cold all day with the weather. Warm through and through now! This one is a keeper.

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7 months ago Sherry

Better than anything I've had in a Chinese restaurant and I live in the San Francisco bay area where we have lots of them, and it's almost easier than ordering take-out. I bumped up the garlic, ginger, sriracha, soy sauce and sesame oil, to taste, and added finely shredded Napa cabbage at the end and topped it with cilantro before serving. I was a little worried because it wasn't a very traditional recipe, but the results were outstanding.

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7 months ago erinrae

I love how this demystifies a soup many of us know, love, and probably have never attempted to make. The only thing I changed was adding a full pound of pork, because my husband and I tend toward the carnivorous. A generous tablespoon of Sriracha made it spicier than any I've had in a restaurant, but I liked it that way.

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7 months ago JennifermcP

Just finished my second bowl of this delicious soup. I beefed it up a bit with sliced snow peas, sliced baby bok Choy and some udon noodles. Next time, less vinegar, more sriacha

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7 months ago B A C O N

I like it when I see a recipe, and I have 90% of the ingredients already. This recipe absolutely rocked. Sooo easy to make. I had 2 bowls and starting looking at the pot for a 3rd. Thank you for posting it. The only thing I didn't have was fresh ginger, so I used powdered. Next time I will get the ginger fresh and perhaps add a little corn starch, as I like my hot and sour soup on the thicker side, and the eggs, while good, didn't thicken quite the way I like.

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7 months ago bryan

This is my favorite recipe on Food52. I have made it a few times now, and plan to keep it in my Paprika file for a long time to come. The only thing I changed was the amount of rice vinegar, because it's REALLY vinegary as-is. Otherwise, it's glorious.

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7 months ago kpucker

Is there a good substitute for sriracha? This sounds great, but I don't actually have any sriracha in the house - we don't do a lot of spicy cooking, and it seems like a condiment that would sit for very long stretches of time between uses.

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7 months ago Kristen Miglore

Kristen is the Executive Editor of Food52

It's mainly there for the spice, so you could leave it out and there would still be some heat from the black pepper and plenty of tang. If you like, you could up the heat with another type of hot sauce or dried, ground chile.

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7 months ago k o

i used chili oil instead of sriracha for a deeper heat profile, tasted great

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6 months ago Heidi Shires

I use chili paste

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8 months ago Serena Cosmo | Rustic Plate

I was trolling the internet looking for a soup recipe that nourished my tween's bad cold, but that wasn't the 'same ol' chicken soup'...and boy did I win the lottery by choosing this one! I ended up using toasted sesame oil and apple cider vinegar (because I didn't have the items the recipe required) and added rice noodles, baby spinach leaves and very thinly sliced raw red onion to the mix. Magical. I will put this soup on our regular rotation dinner menu. Thank you so much for sharing this! Serena from Rustic Plate

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10 months ago Nyborg

wow. made this for the first time since making it several times last winter. it's still remarkable. i had homemade beef stock, which worked fine. otherwise i followed the recipe closely. used brown rice vinegar. many thanks for the recipe!

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11 months ago paizley

White pepper is better!