Hot and sour soup originated in Szechuan, a region in China. It’s one of my sister’s favourite foods and unfortunately, it’s incredibly difficult to find a restaurant that serves a truly authentic (and delicious) hot and sour soup. Luckily, it’s very easy to make at home. My family loves it when I make this soup and they can’t get enough of it. 🙂 You could easily make this a vegetarian or vegan soup by omitting the pork and egg, and by using vegetable broth instead of chicken broth.
Hot and Sour Soup Recipe
Serves 4 to 6
1 pound pork tenderloin, trimmed of fat and sliced thinly and then cut crosswise into thin strips (it helps to freeze the meat for 15 to 30 minutes before slicing with a good knife)
6 dried, large shiitake mushrooms, soaked in cold water for an hour and rinsed; remove and discard stems and slice caps thinly
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
5 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons peeled and finely grated fresh ginger (Note: I use a Microplane grater)
crushed red pepper flakes or Chinese chili paste to taste – I suggest starting with 1 teaspoon of the crushed red pepper flakes or 2 teaspoons of the Chinese chili paste and then adjusting later if you prefer it spicier, keeping in mind that the white pepper adds spice too
3 cups water
2 cups chicken broth
1 tablespoon soy sauce (or more to taste)
1/4 cup Chinese red vinegar (plus more for serving)
white pepper to taste
2 tablespoons cornstarch dissolved in 3 tablespoons cold water
1 large egg, lightly beaten
4 whole green onions, green parts only, very thinly sliced
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
1 cup fresh, medium firm tofu, cut into 1/2 inch thick slices and then cut crosswise to give rectangular strips
(Note: Hot and sour soup often has Chinese “wooden ears” in it but this only adds to the texture of the soup and I don’t usually add this to mine. Also, you could add some thin strips of bamboo shoots at the same time that you add the pork, if you like the crunchy texture. Personally, I prefer to leave it out.)
Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat and cook the garlic, ginger and red pepper flakes (or chili paste) until the aroma is released, about 1 minute. Add the water and chicken broth and bring it to a boil. Then lower the heat and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes.
Add the sliced mushroom caps, soy sauce, vinegar, white pepper, and continue to simmer for 5 more minutes. Taste and adjust the soy sauce, vinegar, spice or white pepper to taste. While stirring the soup gently and constantly, add the cornstarch in water to the pot. Then bring it to a simmer and simmer for 3 more minutes, stirring occasionally. If you’d prefer a thicker soup, add one more tablespoon of cornstarch dissolved in 1 tablespoon of water and stir and simmer for 2 more minutes, stirring occasionally. Then drizzle the beaten egg into the soup gradually, while constantly stirring the soup gently. This will create ribbon like strands of egg in the soup. Add the sesame oil, tofu and pork strips and bring to a full boil, stirring occasionally. Then remove from the heat. Do not overcook the meat. Garnish with the green onions and serve with Chinese red vinegar and white pepper on the side.