Hot and Sour Soup

7 Dec

I have seven draft posts saved as we speak, but neither the time nor the attention span to finish any of them in a thoughtful manner right now. So I am totally copping out momentarily filling the void by presenting you with one of my mom’s delicious and authentic Chinese recipes: classic hot and sour soup.  (Thanks to Jenny for the suggestion!)  I realize there are no amounts here, so for that part, you’ll just have to feel things out.


  • chicken broth (make your own by boiling a whole chicken, and you’ll have plenty of broth, as well as cooked chicken)
  • cooked chicken, diced
  • diced tomatoes, no skins (I used canned ones, myself)
  • red bell pepper, diced
  • carrot, diced
  • dried wood ear mushrooms, softened and chopped
  • bamboo shoots
  • salt
  • sugar
  • five-spice powder (optional)
  • vermicelli noodles (also known as glass noodles)
  • corn starch (or, even better, tapioca starch, since it leaves the soup clearer and prettier)
  • eggs, beaten
  • white vinegar or rice vinegar
  • hot chili sauce
  • green onion, chopped
  • cilantro, chopped
  • sesame oil

Cook the veggies in the broth, adding salt, sugar, and five-spice powder to taste.  When carrots are soft, add small pieces of vermicelli.  The easiest way to do this is to hold the dry vermicelli over the pot and use scissors to cut 1-inch-ish lengths into the soup.  Add chicken, then thicken the soup with starch.  Bring to a gentle boil and gently pour the eggs in a very thin stream into the boiling soup, using a circular motion.  Do not stir the soup while pouring the egg.  Turn off heat, cover, and let stand for half and hour.  Add vinegar and chili sauce to taste.  (This is the HOT and SOUR part of the soup, so I say be generous with both!)  Add fresh green onion and cilantro and finish with a whiff of sesame oil.  You may also add some tofu, which I love, but it doesn’t freeze well, so if you’re making a large batch, it’s probalby best to leave it out.

Ladle into bowls and add a small amount of soy sauce to each bowl, if desired.  Eat up and enjoy the praise from everyone else at the table.

6 Responses to “Hot and Sour Soup”

  1. bubble&squeak December 7, 2008 at 2:56 am #

    I love this soup and I can’t find anywhere that makes it so I’ve been dying to find a decent recipe for it. Thanks, I’ll definitely give your soup a try.

    The lack of quantities is a bit daunting but I have an idea most of the soup can be made to taste. I would probably substitute the white vinegar with a dark vinegar though because it has a stronger taste and colour and add small cubes of soft tofu.

    I would also julienne some of the vegetables (carrots, pepper, wood ear, and bamboo) as opposed to dicing.

    Thanks again for your recipe!

    P.S. Just trying my luck, I wonder if you might have any recipes for Chinese Scallion Pancakes? I think the measurements migth be critical for this dish though 🙂

    Well, if you have any questions, ask away. You’re right about the julienning — it’s more authentic. My mom dices the veggies because my dad prefers it that way because he says it’s easier to get them on his spoon! Also, to be truly authentic, besides tofu, one is suppose to have pig’s blood in the soup, too! Yikes.

    My mom sometimes makes “Tsung Yao Bing” (this is not proper pingyin…) which means roughly “Green Onion Oil Pancakes”. This is the closest thing I know to what you might be asking for. We can try to work out a recipe. 🙂 They certainly are delicious!

  2. Janet Patterson December 7, 2008 at 8:41 am #

    Fawn: I absolutely love hot and sour soup. In fact I’ve been on a bit of a search for a really good recipe…I’ve tried several variations but am still looking for that perfect blend of hot and sour, with a hint of sweet. I will certainly try this one out.

  3. bubble&squeak December 8, 2008 at 7:17 pm #

    You’re right about the pig’s blood. I’ve had it with pig’s blood jelly before made at a northern Chinese restaurant in Chinatown in Sydney, Australia. IT’S SQUEAKY and not something I absolutely need! I’d probably skip it in my home cooked version.

    As for the Scallion Pancakes (I do believe it is the same as your mum’s version), I tried to make it once but I used the wrong type of flour and they came out rubbery and not flaky like they are meant to be.
    I have tried to to no avail to figure out the best type of flour for this dish. Any tips from your mum would be much appreciated 🙂

    I was also not sure if I am meant to pan-fry or deep-fry the pancakes. I pan-fried them like a regular pancake.

    I have also had sweet versions sandwiched with red bean paste or lotus seed paste. Not a fan of red bean but lotus seed paste rocks!

    Mmmmm, I LOOOOOOVE red bean paste! It’s hard to come by up here, though. Probably a good thing, given the baby weight I need to lose. The e-mail address you provide keeps bouncing back my messages, so it’s hard to follow up with you. I’m wondering where you live, since flour varies from country to country. Send me an e-mail and I’ll see if I can describe how my mom makes the scallion pancakes. She usually uses the leftover dough when she finishes making jiaozi (a.k.a. potstickers a.k.a. dumplings) so we don’t have an exact recipe just for the pancakes.

  4. Barbara December 8, 2008 at 7:47 pm #

    LOL! “no amounts “! Yea, I cook like that, too. Uhuh. Sure. (Jus’ teasin’.)

  5. bubble&squeak December 9, 2008 at 4:35 am #

    Thanks for your kind efforts! I am not sure where to find your email but try my alternative email. I have problems with that one too because I only check it sporadically. Perhaps it has been deactivated. I have only recently set this one up and haven’t even started using it yet but it should be fine.
    I am presently living in KL, Malaysia so should have no problems with the Asian ingredients. It’s the Aussie stuff back home that I miss.
    Hmmm…I have successfully made potstickers according to a recipe on and these tasted like the real thing. I have to find that recipe.
    They had one on scallion pancakes but I lost it and couldn’t find it at their site again 😦
    Anyway, it’s really nice reading your blog. I’m new to it. I have to admit that I didn’t know where the Yukon was being a Southern Hemisphere person my whole life. Thanks for the education!
    BTW, I followed the link you had on your blog to Cake Wrecks and it really made my day. I usually visit the Cupcakes Take the Cake blogspot but this gave me a whole new perspective on cake design. Hilarious! Thanks again.

  6. Clare December 9, 2008 at 8:07 am #

    I absolutely love Hot & Sour soup, and for my week out in Iqaluit I probably ordered it a half a dozen or more times. I’ll definitely be trying out the recipe. Thanks from the frozen north.

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