Homemade Hot and Sour Soup

Amy Hand
Amy Hand

Amy Hand

Amy worked as the head pastry chef and the head chef at multiple restaurants in South Africa. She now shares her professional insights about cooking and kitchen tools here at The Skillful Cook.

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Hot and sour soup final

This hot and sour soup will sparkle on your taste buds. The heat of white pepper, the sourness of the rice vinegar, and the umami mushrooms create a perfectly balanced dish that you can get on the table in under 30 minutes.

Once you’ve tried this a few times, you can play with adding extra veggies, but don’t skimp out on the mushrooms! The meaty texture of shiitakes, in particular, makes this dish feel hearty and filling without needing to add animal protein. This hot and sour soup is finished off with a classic egg drop to enrich the dish and add extra texture.

Once you’ve made this homemade version of hot and sour soup for yourself, I doubt you’ll ever order it from a Chinese takeout again!

Why you will love this recipe

  • Packed with protein– Even though this dish contains no meat, it is full of protein from the mushrooms, eggs, and tofu. This is the ideal dish for anyone looking to add more plant-based protein to their diet.
  • Vegetarian- While you can add meat to this recipe, this base soup is entirely vegetarian. This truly proves that vegetarian dishes can taste just as delicious as meat-based options.
  • Intense hot and sour flavor- The heat in this soup comes from the white pepper, while the sour comes from the rice vinegar added at the end. The balance of flavors is key, but when you get it right, it’s mouthwatering!
  • Quick to prepare- Both the prep and cooking time for this recipe are very quick, making it the perfect midweek meal.
  • Better than takeout- The fresh flavors of this homemade soup are sure to rival even the best takeout option.
Hot and sour soup served

Homemade Hot and Sour Soup

With this easy recipe, you can have this delectable Chinese classic on the table in just 30 minutes! After you try this one, you may never order takeout hot and sour soup again!
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Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Course Main Course, Starter
Cuisine Chinese
Servings 4
Calories 202 kcal



  • 5 ounces shiitake mushrooms
  • 5 ounces shimeji mushrooms (you can swap out these for wood ear or oyster mushrooms)
  • 2 tomatoes
  • 2 blocks tofu (I like a soft tofu, but you can use any firmness you prefer)
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 2 tbsp neutral oil (e.g. refined avocado oil or canola)
  • ¼ tsp chili flakes
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 inches ginger, minced
  • 5 cups vegetable stock
  • 2 tsp white pepper
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 4 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 scallion


  • Gather all the ingredients.
  • Dice the tomatoes.
    Dice the tomatoes
  • Cut tofu and mushrooms.
    For the shimejis, chop off the base and discard, then chop the mushrooms in half across the stems. Slice the tofu into ½-inch thick slices and then slice those into batons. Finely chop the scallions.
    Tofu and mushrooms
  • Prepare the cornstarch slurry.
    Mix the cornstarch and water together to form a smooth slurry. You’ll only need it later, but it's best to have it ready to go.
  • Fry the aromatics.
    Add the neutral oil to a cold stock pot and sprinkle in the chili flakes. Place the pot over medium heat and allow the chilis to infuse into the oil while it heats. When the oil is hot, add the garlic and ginger and fry until fragrant, around 2 minutes. Do not overheat.
    Fry the aromatics
  • Add the stock and seasonings.
    Add the stock to the pot and scrape the bottom to get any stuck pieces of ginger and garlic. Add the white pepper with the soy sauce, salt, and sugar.
    Add the stock and seasonings
  • Add veggies and boil.
    Add the tomatoes, mushrooms, and tofu, being careful not to break the pieces of tofu. Bring the soup to a boil, cover, and allow to boil for 3-4 minutes.
    Add veggies and boil
  • Thicken the soup.
    Stir the cornstarch slurry well to make it smooth again. Uncover the soup and slowly drizzle in the slurry, stirring constantly to avoid lumps.
  • Do the egg drop.
    Beat the eggs in a bowl until thoroughly combined. Pour the egg into the soup, spreading it evenly across the surface. Wait 1-2 minutes to let the egg cook before stirring gently.
    Do the egg drop
  • Final seasonings.
    Remove from heat. Add the rice vinegar and sesame oil. It's very important to add the vinegar at the end to retain the sour flavor. Taste the soup and add extra soy or rice vinegar if it needs it.
  • Garnish and serve
    Sprinkle with chopped scallions and serve hot.
    Hot and sour soup served


Calories: 202kcalCarbohydrates: 21gProtein: 8gFat: 11gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 3gMonounsaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 0.04gCholesterol: 82mgSodium: 2810mgPotassium: 506mgFiber: 3gSugar: 9gVitamin A: 1341IUVitamin C: 10mgCalcium: 36mgIron: 2mg
Keyword Hot and sour soup, Chinese, tofu, shiitake mushrooms, shimeji, mushrooms, spicy
Tried this recipe?Let us know how if you liked it in the comments below!

Serving Suggestions

Hot and sour soup can be served as a starter or as the main feature of a traditional Chinese meal.

🧑‍🍳 Expert Tips

  • Add meat. If you want to mix things up, you can add shredded chicken or sliced and pan-fried pork. You can add these elements when you add your veggies.
  • Taste, taste, taste. This is key to getting the balance of the dish perfect. Different vinegar or soy sauce brands will have slightly different flavors or intensities, so it’s important to taste and adjust the seasoning at the end.
  • Stir continuously when adding the cornstarch slurry. The cornstarch needs to boil to thicken the soup. But this means it will start cooking as soon as it hits the hot soup, so it’s vital to stir while adding the slurry very slowly to prevent lumps from forming.
  • Make it vegan. Simply leave out the egg drop to make this dish vegan-friendly.

Storage Suggestions

  • Allow the soup to come to cool slightly before placing it in an airtight plastic or glass container in the fridge. It will last for up to 3 days in the refrigerator.
  • To extend the shelf life, you can freeze the soup in portions where it will keep for 6 months to a year.
  • Do not leave it out at room temperature for more than two hours.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is hot and sour soup healthy or bad for you?

This soup is very healthy because it’s full of vegetables! The veggies in this soup contain beneficial vitamins and minerals. But hot and sour soup is known for being high in sodium. This recipe should be adjusted for those who require low-sodium diets.

What is another name for hot and sour soup?

Hot and sour soup is a Szechuan dish, but there are also versions from the nearby Henan province, where it is known as hulatang or pepper hot soup (胡辣汤).

What are the stringy bits in hot and sour soup?

Those are pieces of cooked egg from the egg drop. The egg is added beaten, and drizzled across the surface of the soup to form strings that cook quickly in the hot liquid.

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Amy Hand
About The Author
After finding the chef life a little too high-paced, Amy decided to take her cooking skills and use them to teach others through food writing. She uses her knowledge as a pastry chef and experience as a head chef to write articles that are engaging and helpful while being as entertaining as possible.

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