Hot and Sour Soup

Hot and Sour Soup Recipe

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I love the hot and sour soup that is served in Chinese restaurants here in the U.S. In fact, on quite a few occasions the hot and sour soup that came with my main course was the highlight of the whole meal for me. It’s exciting, spicy, and full of great flavors and textures. The only problem is that it’s only offered as an appetizer and hence comes in a tiny cup. In this recipe here hot and sour soup is turned into a main course. It’s an adaptation from epicurious and it includes a hefty helping of minced pork, tofu cubes, shiitake, bamboo shoots and chili pepper that overall make the soup substantial enough to call it dinner.

You can tell by looking at the photo that I have yet to discover how to get the egg to curdle into long and pretty ribbons but that’s okay, the soup tastes great even with the egg broken up into a million tiny pieces.

This soup is quick and easy to prepare and you can make it as sour and as spicy as you like by adding more or less rice vinegar and crushed red pepper flakes.

Hot and Sour Soup
Recipe type: Main
Serves: 2
  • 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
  • 5 ounces minced pork chops
  • 10 bamboo shoots out of a can, sliced into strips
  • ½ chili pepper, seeds and ribs removed and thinly sliced
  • 1 green onion, thinly sliced
  • 6 shiitake mushrooms, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 6 ounces tofu, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 2–3 teaspoons rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (more if you like it spicier)
  1. Heat the oil on high heat in a pan until shimmering.
  2. Add the meat and fry until starting to brown.
  3. Add bamboo shoots, chili pepper, green onion and shiitake and cook for 2 minutes.
  4. Add the soy sauce and cook for another minute.
  5. Add the broth and bring to a boil.
  6. Add the tofu, then stir in the honey and the vinegar (start with 2 teaspoons of vinegar, then add more to taste).
  7. Mix the cornstarch with just enough water to dissolve it (a few drops), then add to the soup.
  8. Stir in the beaten egg and the red pepper flakes.

Food Photography and Styling: I didn’t know exactly what this soup was going to look like but I did know that it was going to be some shade of brown so I set up a blue surface and background to provide color contrast. The soup was initially hot enough to produce steam on its own but by the time I had the napkin and the spoon positioned the way I liked them that steam was gone so I got out my espresso machine. As aways, I used my strobe to light the set.
Nikon D600, 105mm, f/5.6, 1/125 sec., ISO 100. One Hensel Integra Pro Plus 500 Monolight, 35″ x 58″ Softbox.

This entry was posted in Soups.


  1. Allie says:

    Looks great – I love hot and sour soup. I also have a question about the strobe you use. I’m just an amateur at photography at this point, so I’m wondering is a strobe like this used for “flash” photography (only lighting up for a split second) or is it constantly on? Your photos are a constant source of inspiration, thank you so much!

    • Nicole B. says:

      It’s so great to hear that, Allie! Yes, a strobe is a big flash that illuminates the scene for a split second, at the same time as the camera shutter is released. A strobe also has a so-called modeling light, which is a continuous light whose only purpose is to light up the scene while it’s being set up, so that the photographer can see what the photo will look like.

  2. Marisa Franca @ All Our Way says:

    Yummy!! I love your shot of the Hot and Sour soup. In ours we use chicken and we always have a bowlful — not those teeny tiny things. Well, to me that’s is simply teasing. We don’t do the egg in ours but I must say it is delicious nonetheless. In fact, as chilly as it is today I’d love to dive into your bowl right now! Have a nice weekend.

  3. Kim | Low Carb Maven says:

    Hooray! I love hot and sour soup. We don’t go out to Chinese restaurants much because my daughter is allergic to gluten, so making it at home is perfect. I can’t wait to make this for my family. Thank you for your recipe and photo inspiration.

  4. Amy says:

    The combination of hot and sour is just so appealing right now! This soup seems like it might be able to cure every kind of ailment going – it sounds totally delicious!

    • Nicole B. says:

      You may very well be right, this soup just might ward off all kinds of winter sniffles and other stuff! I hadn’t thought of that! :)

  5. Rakhee@boxofspice says:

    Love your pictures as always! And I love sweet and sour. I’m don’t eat egg in savory dishes but I’m sure I can make this soup without, right?
    I could dive into that soup right now… pinned!

    • Nicole B. says:

      Thank you, Angela! I’d say it’s the cornstarch that makes it gloopy and I did use a little bit of that but not much.:)

  6. Louise | Cygnet Kitchen says:

    I have never had Hot & Sour Soup before but I’m dying to try your version Nicole! Another stunning shot! I love your tip on using an expresso maker to create steam. It’s so difficult to keep dishes hot while you are shooting! x

    • Nicole B. says:

      Thank you, Louise! Yeah, I resort to my trusty espresso machine quite often for steam, I love it. Enjoy your weekend! :)

  7. Kevin | Keviniscooking says:

    I love this so much as well. It’s actually one of the first Chinese soups I learned to make. It got me to eat black forrest, wood ear mushrooms, lilly buds for Pete’s sake. Tofu! My first experience was from Yet Wah in San Francisco. SUPERB. Funny though I make it at home and add a few more things like small shrimps. To get the shreds of eggs, I stir the hot broth in a circular motion and drizzle in the beaten eggs. Works every time. Then add the other ingredients back in. Beautiful shot of this with the steam. :)

    • Nicole B. says:

      Thank you so much for your nice comment and for that tip, Kevin! I’m making the soup again next week and I’ll try your method. Have a great week! :)

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