Hot and Sour Soup

I was surprised to see that I had never migrated this over from my old web site. In 1997, we were living in rural Central Virginia, just outside of Charlottesville, and I had not been able to find any place that had a decent Hot and Sour Soup. So I scoured the Internet for some ideas, and then spent the weekend mixing and matching and tweaking until I ended up with exactly what I wanted. A complex sour soup, with a slow building relatively mild heat.

Base Ingredients:

  • 40-42oz of Chicken Broth
  • 1 lb Extra Firm Tofu
  • 3 oz sliced bamboo shoots or sour bamboo shoots
  • 1/2 oz (approx) dried Cloud Ears
  • 1/3 cup sliced cooked meat (optional)
  • Lotus Buds to taste (optional)


  • 1 TBSP Sugar
  • 1 TBSP Dark Soy Sauce
  • 3 TBSP Red Wine Vinegar
  • 3 TBSP Lemon Juice
  • 3 TBSP Fish Sauce
  • 3 TBSP Chinese Black Rice Vinegar
  • 3 TBSP Corn Starch or Tapioca Starch
  • 1/2 – 1 TBSP Salt (to taste, and depending on the saltiness of the stock)
  • 3/4 tsp Ground Roasted Sichuan Peppercorns
  • 1/2 tsp Ground Black Peppercorns
  • 1/2 tsp Sesame Oil


  • 1 large egg (beaten)
  • 3 TBSP minced green onions (optional)


Set the cloud ears in luke warm water for 30 minutes to rehydrate. If you are using Lotus Buds, rehydrate them with the cloud ears. Once they have rehydrated, slice them (I find it easiest to hold them in a bunch, and then just slice across the mushrooms) if they are too large to eat comfortably. Slice the tofu (half an inch wide and high, and the length being half the width of the Tofu block works well), and combine the tofu, cloud ears, bamboo shoots, and the lotus buds or meat if you are using them, and put them aside in a bowl. You may find you have a little too much, if you do just set it aside for another batch or another recipe, and make a little less the next time. This is the place to experiment, all sorts of vegetables or meats could be added here.

In a bowl or liquid measure, combine all of the seasoning ingredients, and stir well. These are the most important ingredients, they are what give the soup its flavor. Do not substitute.

Bring the chicken stock to a boil over high heat, in a pan capable of holding about three times the volume of the chicken stock. Once the stock reaches a boil, add the bowl of chopped vegetables and meats, and again, let the soup come to a boil. You want to leave room for the seasonings and the garnish, so don’t overfill your pan. Once the soup again starts to boil, add in the seasonings (being sure to stir first, so that the corn starch doesn’t clump). While the soup again moves towards a boil, beat the egg in the same container you had the seasonings in (to get that last bit of flavor stuck to the sides) and mix in the green onions if you are using them. When the soup again reaches a boil, slowly spoon in the egg mixture. Turn the heat down to simmer, and serve.