Restaurant-style Hot and Sour soup – the make-at-home recipe. Delightfully warming and the boldly flavoured broth is loaded with chicken and vegetables and finished off with egg swirls. This Hot and Sour soup, is spicy and sour, the perfect soup recipe for the Winters and is very close to what you get in the restaurants.
Hot and Sour soup is a favourite Chinese takeaway dish along with other dishes from the Asian cuisine like Chicken Manchurian and Spring Rolls. It is one of those dishes that is a must-order whenever we are at our favourite Chinese restaurant. The soup is a family favourite and we don’t mind having it any time of the year. Even in the hot and humid summers in Pakistan we used to have this Hot and Sour soup, it is loaded with so much goodness and the flavours are so tantalizing that it is hard to resist.
This recipe for Hot and Sour Soup is an easy make-at-home version which is definitely restaurant-worthy! It will keep you warm through the winters.
Why is it restaurant-worthy? Because the taste and flavours are very close to what you get at the restaurant. While this may not be one of those authentic Chinese Hot and Sour soup recipes because the Pakistani Chinese Cuisine has adapted the taste and flavours of Chinese dishes according to the local taste palette.
Hot and Sour Soup – the Basics
Hot and Sour Soup is super easy to make. It only takes a few ingredients to make but to get that authentic flavour the key is to balance the spicy and sour notes.
For any good soup what takes it from just okay to restaurant-worthy is the broth (stock). The broth (stock) is the soup base, it could be chicken broth, vegetable broth or a combination of both. I have found home-made broth is way better than store-bought broth. If you want a flavourful soup, make the soup base at home. Even if you use a store-bought broth, add the ingredients listed below to infuse more flavour to the soup base.
You will be surprised to know that even though the name of the soup is Hot and Sour, the “Hot” comes from the white pepper and “Sour” comes from the vinegar. I have adjusted the recipe to our taste palate by making it even more hot by adding chilli and garlic paste (it is completely optional).
Many hot and sour soup recipes include mushrooms, bamboo shoots, tofu etc. But there is no compulsion to use the same ingredients, you could use any vegetables available along with your choice of protein (chicken, shrimps, beef, tofu). I like to keep it simple by using chicken, carrots and cabbage.
You can easily make a Vegetarian version of the hot and sour soup by using vegetable broth (stock), swap chicken with tofu, mushrooms or just add vegetables and enjoy a Vegetable Hot & Sour Soup – it’s that simple.
Ingredients to make Hot and Sour Soup
To make this Hot and Sour soup the ingredients you will need:
- Broth (Stock) – Chicken or Vegetable (or both)
- Protein – Chicken, beef, shrimps, Tofu
- Vegetables – Carrots, Cabbage, green onion, bok choy or any vegetables of choice.
- Flavour Enhancers – Rice Vinegar, Soy Sauce, Chili and garlic sauce
- Seasoning – Salt, White pepper and black pepper crushed
- Cornstarch – to thicken the soup
- Egg – whisked and drizzled at the end for those egg ribbons.
The key ingredients that bring out the flavours in the soup are the white pepper and vinegar that give the soup the character. The broth (stock), chicken and vegetables give it texture, the cornflour slurry thickens the soup and the egg enhances the visual appeal while also adding to the texture. I like adding chopped spring onion greens for a pop of colour and freshness.
In the Pakistani Chinese Cuisine, the Hot and Sour Soup is served with sauces to dress up the Soup. These are Chili Sauce, Soy Sauce and Green Chilies in vinegar.
Hot and Sour Soup Recipe Instructions
Hot and sour soup recipe requires a little prepping, so make sure to prepare the ingredients ahead of time because once cooking begins, it comes together really quickly.
1. Prepare the Soup Base: Chicken Broth
In a heavy pot add 1 Chicken Carcass, 2 medium onions, quartered, 8-10 garlic cloves, 2-inch piece of ginger cut into coins, 2 green onions, 15 black peppercorns, 2 bay leaves and 10 cups (2.5 quarts) of water. Bring it to a boil and let simmer for around 2-3 hours. Once it has cooled strain the broth for the soup.
2. Prepare the Chicken
Boil the chicken thighs in enough water (approx 2 inches above meat) until cooked. Strain and shred the chicken. Set aside.
3. Prepare the Vegetables and other ingredients
Julienne the carrots and the cabbage. Make the cornflour slurry by combining 3 Tbsp cornflour with 1/4 cup water until well dissolved. Whisk an egg in a small bowl. Wash and cut the green onions for garnish
4. Making the Soup
In a pot bring Chicken broth to a boil. Stir in the shredded chicken, soy sauce and chilli and garlic sauce, simmer.
Add the carrot, cabbage, white pepper, black pepper crushed, salt and white vinegar. Bring soup to a simmer.
Slowly swirl 3/4 of the cornflour slurry to the soup while stirring the soup simultaneously. Keep stirring until soup comes to a simmer again. Check the consistency of the soup, it should be thick enough to cover the back of the spoon. Add the remaining slurry for a thicker consistency.
5. Taste Check and Adjust
Once the soup is to according to the desired consistency, taste check and adjust the seasoning. Add more white pepper to make it hot and more vinegar to make it sour.
Bring the soup to bubble, slowly swirl the whisked egg into the soup, wait for a few seconds and then slowly stir for those beautiful egg swirls.
Serve hot with chopped green onions.
More Chinese Recipes to Try
Here are a few of my favourite dishes that pair well with hot and sour soup
- Chinese Egg Rolls
- Chicken Manchurian
- Chinese Almond Chicken
- Orange Chicken Meatballs with Garlic noodles
- Beef Chili Gravy
Hot and Sour Soup
For the Chicken
- 4 oz Chicken Thighs (or breast pieces) (skinless and boneless)
- 1 tsp Salt
For The Soup
- 6 Cups Chicken Broth (see Notes)
- 1 Cup Shredded Chicken
- 1/2 Cup Carrot (julienne)
- 1/2 Cup Cabbage (julienne )
- 2 Tbsp Soy Sauce
- 1 Tbsp Red Chili sauce with garlic
- 2 tsp White Pepper ground (or to taste)
- 1 tsp Black Pepper crushed (or to taste)
- 4 Tbsp White Vinegar (or Rice Vinegar)
- Salt to taste
- 3 Tbsp Cornflour
- 1/4 cup Water
- 1 Egg (whisked)
- Spring Onions (sliced)
Prepare the Chicken
- Place the chicken thighs (or chicken breasts) in a pot and season with salt. Add enough water (approx 2 inches above meat) and bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer until chicken is cooked. Remove the chicken from water and let rest until it is cool enough to handle. Shred the chicken and set aside.
- Tip: An easy way to shred chicken is with a hand mixer! Place the chicken in a mixing bowl, and use a hand mixer on low speed to break the chicken into shreds.
Prepare The Soup
- In a pot bring Chicken broth to a boil. Stir in the shredded chicken, soy sauce and chilli and garlic sauce. Reduce heat and simmer.
- Add the carrot, cabbage, white pepper, black pepper crushed, salt and white vinegar. Bring soup to a simmer. Do a taste check and adjust seasoning
- Combine the 3 Tbsp cornstarch with ¼ cup water to make a slurry, making sure it is well-combined.
- Slowly swirl 3/4 of the cornflour slurry to the soup while stirring the soup simultaneously. Keep stirring until soup comes to a simmer again. Check the consistency of the soup, it should be thick enough to cover the back of the spoon. Add the remaining slurry for a thicker consistency.
- Once the soup is to according to the desired consistency, taste check and adjust the seasoning. Add more white pepper to make it hot and more vinegar to make it sour.
- Keep the soup simmering, it should be bubbling. Slowly swirl the whisked egg into the soup, wait for a few seconds and then slowly stir for those beautiful egg swirls.
- Garnish your hot and sour soup with spring onions and serve with crackers, bread sticks or croutons.
Soup Dress-up Sauces
- For Red Chili Sauce: 1 tsp red Chili powder, 1/4 cup white vinegar and a pinch of salt. Mix all these ingredients together for the sauce.
- For Green Chili & Vinegar: 2 Green Chilies, sliced, 1/4 cup white vinegar. Add green chilies to vinegar to serve with the soup.
If you enjoy my recipes, I’d love for you to subscribe to my YouTube channel for Video Recipes
Note: This recipe was originally published in November 2014. It has been updated with new photos and detailed instructions.