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Hot and Sour Soup {Yummy Healthy Way}

by Shirley

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Hot and Sour Soup {Yummy Healthy Way}

Hot and Sour Soup is a popular Chinese takeout food in the west. It features vegetable slices and egg drop in a peppery, vinegary silky appetizing soup with a hint of spiciness. Hence the name Hot (spicy) and Sour (vinegar).

You will love this Yummy and Healthy version made at home, which is naturally delicious and easy to make. It uses homemade pork broth as a soup base and superfood arrowroot flour as soup thickening starch.

The soup also includes an assortment of vegetable slices to provide various flavors, tastes, textures, and nutrition. Dried lily flowers, black fungus, carrots, tofu, you name it. All wrapped in an appetizing silky soup.

A bowl of steaming homemade hot and sour soup is exactly what we need after a long day.

What do you need to make Hot and Sour Soup at home?

You will need pork or chicken broth, egg, firm tofu, dried black fungus, dried lily flower buds, a small piece of carrot, pinches of crushed red pepper, Zhenjiang Vinegar, natural soy sauce, light soy sauce, arrowroot flour, and white pepper to make this delicious and healthy hot and sour soup.

Hot and Sour Soup Ingredients
Ingredients

I’ll start with two Chinese special vegetables: dried lily flower and dried black fungus.

Dried Lily Flowers:

Also known as “Jin Zhen Cai 金针菜” {Golden Needles Vegetables} or “Huang Hua Cai 黄花菜” {Yellow Flower Vegetable}.

They are a popular cooking ingredient to add to the soup and stir-fry in China, especially in the Yangtze River Delta Area.

Dried vs. Soaked Lily Flowers {Jin Zhen Cai 金针菜}
Dried vs. Soaked Lily Flowers {Jin Zhen Cai 金针菜}

To prepare dried lily flowers for cooking, you first soak them in plenty of water for 3- 4 hours in advance. They will get fully hydrated and resume the plump looking.

Following that, you trim the hard ends off where the flower connects to the plant stem and then split the flower buds vertically using your fingers. This way lily flower buds turn into thin threads and taste better.

Lily flower buds have a mostly neutral flavor and taste. This makes it very versatile to add to almost any dish.

Dried lily flower buds are nature’s healthy superfood. TCM {Traditional Chinese Medicine} believes dried lily flower bubs can mitigate insomnia, anxiety, and cough. People also believe they are a good sauce of vitamin C and potassium, among other healthy substances.

Dried Black Fungus:

Also called Hei Mu Er {Black Wood Ear), black fungus in China’s northeast is well-known for its superior quality. They are large, thick, and soft, and can expand quickly within 1 or 2 hours after being soaked in the water.

Dried vs. Soaked Black Fungus
Dried vs. Soaked Black Fungus

Black fungus is another popular ingredient for soup and stir-fry in China. Like dried lily flower buds, it has a neutral flavor and taste, making it suitable for all kinds of dishes. Black Fungus is also amazingly healthy. People believe they contain nutrients to help the body detox, protect the liver, lower cholesterol, etc.

The delicious sour flavor is coming from Zhenjiang vinegar, natural soy sauce, and light soy sauce.

The special peppery taste is from white pepper. Compared to black pepper, white pepper has a sharper, deeper aroma.

Arrowroot Flour is my go-to superfood gluten-free starch.

Arrowroot Flour Mixture
Arrowroot Flour Mixture

Tofu slices and carrot slices provide the contrast colors, textures, and nutrition. The egg is for egg drop, providing additional heartiness for the soup.

Green onions are for the garnishing and lend additional fragrant. You can substitute it with cilantro, another awesomely delicious herb that delivers a satisfying flavor.

Hot and Sour Soup Ingredients
Black Fungus, Carrots, Tofu, Egg

Dried red pepper flakes are behind the hint of spiciness. You may adjust the quantity based on your preference and tolerance to the spiciness.

Last but not least is the broth for the soup base.

Whenever you make Twice Cooked Pork {Hui Guo Rou 回锅肉}, save the water you used to blanch the pork belly, they make wonderful pork broth for hot and sour soup. That is what I am using today.

Blanching Pork Belly
Blanching Pork Belly

Homemade Chicken Broth works great too.

How to make Hot and Sour Soup from scratch?

It is super easy to make this at home as long as you’ve learned a few tips and tricks. See the Recipe for a detailed guided step-by-step tutorial. Here are the key steps.

The first is to prepare all the vegetable slices

Soak the dried lily flower buds and dried black fungus in plenty of water well in advance. Then split lily flowers into thin threads and cut carrots, black fungus, and tofu into thin julienne slices.

Vegetable and Tofu Slices for Hot and Sour Soup
Vegetable and Tofu Slices for Hot and Sour Soup

Blanch the vegetable slices

Fill an 8 Qt. stockpot with about 75% water and bring it to a boil. Add all the vegetable slices into the boiling water, wait for it to reach a boil again.

Blanching Vegetable Slices
Blanching Vegetable Slices

Then remove them from the pot using a spider skimmer and set them aside.

Blanched Vegetable Slices
Blanched Vegetable Slice

Bring the broth and vegetables to a boil

Once the broth reaches a boil, add blanched vegetables, Zhenjiang Vinegar, and Soy Sauce and wait for it to reach a boil again. When it does, quickly re-blend the arrowroot flour mixture and pour it into the Wok in a circular motion. Immediately stir using a bamboo spatula while waiting for it to reach a boil again.

Cooking Hot and Sour Soup
Cooking Hot and Sour Soup

Wrap up the soup with egg drop, white pepper, and green onions

Pour the egg liquid into the pot in a circular motion and in a thin layered fashion onto those boiling areas. Once all the egg is in, immediately turn off the heat, stir and mix well using a bamboo spatula with a long handle, and then add green onions and white pepper.

Freshly Made Hot and Sour Soup
Freshly Made Hot and Sour Soup

Gently stir to mix well and serve hot.

Hot and Sour Soup {Yummy Healthy Way}
Hot and Sour Soup {Yummy Healthy Way}

Hot and Sour Soup Frequently Asked Questions:

What is a hot and sour soup made of?

Zhenjiang vinegar, soy sauce, white pepper, dried red pepper flakes, egg, the vegetable assortment slices (firm tofu, dried lily flower buds, black fungus, carrots) in a slightly thickening broth soup that is absolutely appetizing and satisfactory.

Is hot and sour soup healthy?

Homemade hot and sour is super tasty and healthy. We use homemade pork broth, superfood arrowroot flour as a gluten-free starch. We also use nature’s superfood vegetables such as dried lily flower buds, dried black fungus, and other healthy food such as carrot and tofu.

How to make the hot and sour soup tastier?

Hot and Sour Soup {Yummy Healthy Way}
Hot and Sour Soup {Yummy Healthy Way}

The first thing to mention is to blanch all the vegetable slices, including tofu first, before adding to the soup.

Second, the correct ratio among broth, Zhenjiang vinegar, natural (or dark) soy sauce, light soy sauce, and white pepper is the key.

Zhenjiang vinegar is the source of sourness. You need to have ample vinegar for the classic sour flavor. Soy sauce adds additional flavor and color. White pepper is behind the iconic satisfactory peppery fragrant.

Third, try to use pork broth if possible. Pork broth complements the flavor the best.

What is the black thing in the hot and sour soup?

I use soaked rehydrated black fungus. They have a neutral flavor and firm bite spongy texture.

Hot and Sour Soup Ingredients
Black Fungus, Carrots, Tofu, Egg

Some people use shiitake mushrooms, either dried or fresh. Shiitake mushrooms taste slightly slimy and have a strong fragrant. They are an impressive addition to the Pork Cabbage Pork Jiao Zi (dumplings) filling. However, for hot and sour soup, I prefer Black Fungus better.

Hot and Sour Soup {Yummy Healthy Way}

Hot and Sour Soup Recipe {Yummy Healthy Way}

Yield: 8 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes

Hot and Sour Soup is a popular Chinese takeout food in the west. It features vegetable slices and egg drop in a peppery, vinegary silky appetizing soup with a hint of spiciness. 

Ingredients

  • 8 cup broth, pork, chicken, or vegetable broth
  • 1.5 oz dried lily flower buds
  • 10 dried black fungus
  • 3 eggs
  • 0.5 lb firm tofu, 2 pcs
  • 1 small carrot
  • 1/2 cup Zhenjiang vinegar
  • 1/4 cup light soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp Natural Soy Sauce, or dark soy sauce
  • 3 tbsp arrowroot flour
  • 2 tsp white pepper, freshly ground

Instructions

Prep:

  1. Soak dried lily flower buds and black fungus 3-4 hours ahead of time using plenty of water. Wash and rinse well.
    Dried vs. Soaked Lily Flowers {Jin Zhen Cai 金针菜}
    Dried vs. Soaked Black Fungus
  2. Trim the hard ends off where the flower connects to the plant stem and then split the flower buds vertically using your fingers, and turn them into thin threads.
    Split Soaked Lily Flowers Vertically
    Vertically Split Lily Flower Threads
  3. Wash, peel carrots, Cut carrots, firm tofu, black fungus into julienne thin slices.
    Vegetable and Tofu Slices for Hot and Sour Soup
  4. Add the arrowroot flour into a small bowl, mix with 1 cup room temperature broth, whisk well, and set aside.
    Arrowroot Flour Mixture
  5. Add eggs into a bowl and whisk into a smooth egg liquid using a mini whisk.
    Whisk egg for Hot and Sour Soup

Blanch the Vegetables:

  1. Fill an 8 Qt. stockpot with about 75% water and bring it to a boil. Add all the vegetable slices into the boiling water, wait for it to reach a boil again.
    Blanching Vegetable Slices
  2. Remove them from the pot using a spider skimmer and set them aside.
    Blanched Vegetable Slices

Make the Soup:

  1. Turn the heat to high, add the broth into a wok, cover with a lid and bring it to a boil
  2. Add the blanched vegetables, Zhenjiang vinegar, natural soy sauce, and light soy sauce. Mix well, cover with a lid and wait for it to reach a boil again.
    Cooking Hot and Sour Soup
  3. Quickly re-blend the arrowroot flour mixture and pour it into the wok using a circular motion. Immediately stir using a bamboo spatula and continue to do so while for it to reach a boil.
  4. Pour the egg liquid into the pot in a circular motion and in a thin layered fashion onto those boiling areas. Once all the egg is in, immediately turn off the heat, stir and mix well using a bamboo spatula with a long handle, and then add green onions and white pepper.
    Freshly Made Hot and Sour Soup
  5. Gently stir to mix well and serve hot.
    Hot and Sour Soup {Yummy Healthy Way}

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 8 servings Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 106Total Fat: 4gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 70mgSodium: 1161mgCarbohydrates: 7gFiber: 1gSugar: 2gProtein: 11g

Nutrition calculation is provided by Nutritionix to the best knowledge per ingredients description and isn't always accurate.

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