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Hot and sour soup

The hot and sour soup represents a balance of contrasting flavors, where the vinegar's sourness is balanced with the chili's heat, similar to the balance of yin and yang.

The soup is customarily consumed during the winter months due to its warming properties.  It's also particularly popular during Chinese New Year celebrations due to the belief that sour foods cleanse the body and help usher in a fresh start.


6 mushroom (dried shiitake mushrooms)
1⁄4 c mushroom (wood ear mushrooms)
2 T edible flowers (dried lily buds)
1 c bamboo shoot (thinly sliced)
1⁄2 lb tofu (firm tofu, thinly sliced)
1⁄4 lb pork (lean pork, thinly sliced)
4 c broth (chicken broth)
3 T vinegar (Chinkiang vinegar)
1 t pepper (preferably white pepper)
2 T corn starch (mixed with a little water)
2 egg (beaten)
2 scallion (finely chopped)


Soak the dried mushrooms, wood ear mushrooms, and day lily buds in separate bowls of hot water for 20 minutes.

Once the mushrooms and buds have soaked, drain them and cut them into thin slices. Keep the water they soaked in; it will add flavor to the soup.

In a large pot, bring the chicken broth and the water from the soaked mushrooms and buds to a boil.

Add in the sliced mushrooms, buds, bamboo shoots, tofu, and pork. Let it simmer for about 10 minutes.

Gradually add in the Chinkiang vinegar, white pepper, soy sauce, and sesame oil. Continually taste the soup and adjust the seasonings to your liking.

Stir in the cornstarch mixture to thicken the soup.

Slowly pour in the beaten eggs while stirring the soup to create egg ribbons.

Serve the soup hot, garnished with the chopped green onions.

Total time
45 minutes
Cooking time
Preparation time
6 servings


While the dried mushrooms and lily buds are soaking, thinly slice the bamboo shoots, tofu, and pork.

You can also garnish the hot and sour soup with fresh coriander. Hot and sour soup is traditionally served as an appetizer before the main dish. Serve it hot, preferably in a deep bowl, with a side of crispy spring rolls or dim sum.


For a vegetarian version, substitute the chicken broth with vegetable broth and skip the pork. For seafood lovers, shrimp or scallops can be added to the soup. 

For additional heat, add Sichuan peppercorns or extra white pepper. A drizzle of chili oil just before serving adds a flavorful kick and a touch of color to the dish.


Mandarin style cuisine (China)

soups, vegetables
meat, boiling, easy
Chinses food recipes
Food in Asia