I consider Hot & Sour Soup a stuffy nose remedy. Like wasabi, it instantly opens the flood gates, and for a heavenly 10 minutes after drinking this soup, you can breathe, through both nostrils if you’re lucky.

Hot & Sour Soup 5

When I have a cold, and my taste buds are weak, my olfactory senses held hostage, I gravitate towards sour soups like Tom Yom Goong and Chinese Hot & Sour Soup, because I can taste it. A wonderful, yet mild chicken soup, might taste like water that day.

I don’t know why I’m trying to convince you of the benefits of Hot & Sour Soup. Most already love it, so onward. It just tastes great. The “hot” comes from black and/or white pepper and the “sour” comes from plain white vinegar. So simple yet so good. I give guidelines here but everyone has their own preference for how sour and how hot, so adjust to your liking.

spoonful of Hot & Sour Soup 2

I feel like I better mention the lily flowers and black fungus first. Yes, you’ve eaten it probably every time you bought Hot & Sour Soup. They usually come in dried form (buy at Chinese supermarket) and need to be re-hydrated by soaking them in water. The lily flowers are the same beautiful lilies you see in bouquets. They are a little bit squishy and slippery, adding another unique texture to the soup.

dried lily flowers

Don’t be afraid of the black fungus (or cloud ear fungus), which can be purchased in dried strips. If you eat mushrooms, they are types of fungus. Prevalent in Asian cooking, they add a crunchy/snappy texture that is similar to some seaweeds.

dried black fungus strips 3

One last thing. My mom doesn’t usually add egg drop to her Hot & Sour Soup but some do. Do as you wish.

Hot & Sour Soup
~8 to 10 servings

  • 2 large dried shitake mushrooms
  • 1.2 ounces dried lily flowers
  • 0.5 ounces dried black fungus strips
  • 4 ounces pork strips
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce, divided
  • 1/2 tablespoon sugar + additional
  • 1 teaspoon + 1/4 cup cornstarch, divided
  • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
  • 8 cups water + additional for soaking and slurries
  • 6 tablespoons + additional white vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon chicken bouillon granules
  • 8 ounces firm tofu, cut into strips
  • kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper, and ground white pepper to taste
  • thinly sliced scallions to garnish (optional)

Instructions -

1. Soak mushrooms in 1 cup of water for 2 hours. In a separate bowl, soak lily flowers with enough water to cover for one hour. In another bowl, soak black fungus strips with enough water to cover for 1 hour.

soaked shitakes, lily flowers, and black fungus

2. Strain mushrooms squeezing out liquid and reserving liquid. Pour liquid through a strainer to remove any particles and set aside. Thinly slice mushrooms and set aside. Drain lily flowers and pick any hard ends off (not all will have hard ends), and tie in knots. Set aside. Drain black fungus. Set aside.

soaked lily flower lily flower knots

3. In a small bowl, stir together pork, 1/2 tablespoon soy sauce, sugar, and 1 teaspoon cornstarch. Set aside.

4. Heat vegetable oil in a 3 quart pot. Fry pork mixture, stirring to brown lightly. Add 8 cups of water. Cover and bring to a boil.

5. Turn down to a simmer. Add a generous sprinkling of salt, 1 tablespoon soy sauce, mushroom, lily flowers, fungus, and 3/4 cup of the reserved mushroom liquid. Simmer for 3 minutes.

6. Add 6 tablespoons white vinegar and chicken bouillon granules. Simmer for 5 minutes. Taste and adjust with additional salt, sugar, or vinegar to preference.

7. In a small bowl, mix 1/4 cup cornstarch with 3 tablespoons water to form a slurry. Stir until dissolved. Stir the slurry in to soup, as needed, to thicken to desired consistency. (You may not need all of it.)

8. Add tofu. Add black and white pepper to taste (as hot as you want it). When tofu floats, it’s done. Serve. Put a little scallion garnish on each bowl, if desired.

Hot & Sour Soup 7

Notes:

  • After the soup is done, don’t stir it too much. It will eventually cause the slurry to separate. If it does, you can just add more slurry to thicken again.
  • Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.
  • Reheat on the stove top or microwave.
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