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Hot-and-Sour Soup

Scott Phillips

Yield: Yields about 8 cups

Servings: 4 to 6

This classic Chinese soup probably originated in northern China, near Beijing, even though Hunan and Sichuan Provinces both claim it as their own. The essential flavor balance comes from spicy pepper oil (hot) and red rice vinegar (sour). Be sure to freeze the bean curd the day before you plan to serve the soup; doing so will change its texture from silky to marvelously spongy.


  • 1/2 lb. Chinese fresh bean curd or medium-firm tofu, drained
  • 1/4 oz. (2 Tbs.) dried cloud ear mushrooms
  • 1 oz. (about 35) dried tiger lily buds
  • 4 oz. boneless pork loin, thinly sliced crosswise, then cut into strips less than 1/8 inch thick
  • 1 Tbs. peanut oil
  • Kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 4 cups Chinese Chicken Broth (do not degrease) or lower-salt chicken broth; more as needed
  • 1 1/2-inch-thick slice fresh ginger, peeled and lightly smashed
  • 3 Tbs. canned shredded Sichuan preserved vegetable, drained
  • 1/3 cup canned bamboo shoots, rinsed
  • 3 Tbs. plus 1 tsp. Hot Pepper Oil; more to taste
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 Tbs. Chinese red rice vinegar or 6 Tbs. good-quality red wine vinegar; more to taste
  • 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 Tbs. double dark soy sauce
  • 2 Tbs. Asian sesame oil
  • 1 medium scallion, thinly sliced on the diagonal

Nutritional Information

  • Calories (kcal) : 320
  • Fat Calories (kcal): 190
  • Fat (g): 21
  • Saturated Fat (g): 4
  • Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 8
  • Monounsaturated Fat (g): 8
  • Cholesterol (mg): 105
  • Sodium (mg): 640
  • Carbohydrates (g): 16
  • Fiber (g): 4
  • Protein (g): 17


  • Put the bean curd in a zip-top freezer bag and freeze for 24 hours. Thaw at room temperature until soft enough to slice, about 1 hour, and then cut into 3×1/4-inch strips; set aside.
  • Put the cloud ears and lily buds in separate bowls, cover each with hot water, and soak until soft, 20 to 30 minutes. Keeping them separate, drain the cloud ears and lily buds, rinse well with cool water, and drain again. Break the cloud ears into small pieces; set aside. Remove the hard stem ends from the buds, halve crosswise, and set aside.
  • In another small bowl, whisk the cornstarch with 3 Tbs. water until smooth; set aside.
  • Put the broth and 1 cup water in a 4-quart saucepan, cover, and bring to a boil. Uncover and stir in the ginger and preserved vegetable. Return to a boil and cook, uncovered, for 2 minutes. Stir in the lily buds and cloud ears, return to a boil, and cook for 1 minute. Stir in the bean curd, bamboo shoots, and hot pepper oil. Return to a boil and cook for 2 minutes. Add the pork and any juice from the bowl, return to a boil, and cook just until the pork turns white, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the vinegar.
  • Stir the cornstarch mixture to loosen it and then, using a ladle, stir the soup in one direction while you pour in the cornstarch mixture. Stir until the soup thickens and returns to a boil, about 2 minutes. Add the eggs in the same way. The soup will be thick and opaque. Stir in the soy sauce and sesame oil, and remove from the heat. Season to taste with more hot pepper oil or vinegar to achieve a hot and sour balance that you like. Serve garnished with the scallions.


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Reviews (1 review)

  • Judy_Charlottesville | 05/05/2019

    I was just checking this recipe to see if there were any reviews....none. I made this about a year ago and it was very good! It seems like a lot of work, but if you prep everything at your leisure it all goes together well and the result is worth the effort. The only negative I can share is the addition of the soy sauce at the very end of the recipe. The soup was beautiful until the soy was added and then it turned an unlovely brown. Just esthetics, I know, but hot and sour soup should be very enticing to look at! Next time, I would let people add soy at their discretion upon serving. Hmm..I also have lots of cloud ear mushrooms and tiger lily buds to use up!!!!!

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