Hot and Sour Soup (Vegan)

“Most of us love that warm bowl of Hot and Sour Soup that they serve at many Asian restaurants before your meal.  Its comforting taste seems to clear the head and relax the soul.  It’s also light, refreshing and low calorie.  Yet, many of us haven’t given this delicious soup a try in our own home kitchens.  It’s so easy to put together and it saves wonderfully for the next day.  It’s also the perfect dish to try as we bring in the new year with resolutions to lighten up.  I encourage you to give this a try.  It’s very versatile so you can spice it up to your liking and it comes together in just a few minutes.  I especially love this soup when I have a cold or am feeling under the weather.  It clears conjestion and makes you feel better instantly.  Chicken noodle soup has nothing on this one!”

Hot and Sour Soup


  • 1 oz package dried shitake mushrooms
  • 3 cups hot water
  • 4 cups no chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 jalepeno, diced (with seeds)
  • 1-2 tsp red pepper flakes (1 tsp if you like it less spicy, 2 if you’re adventerous)
  • 6-8 oz extra firm tofu, cut into 1/2 inch matchsticks or cubes
  • 1/2 of 8oz can sliced bamboo shoots, cut into matchsticks
  • 1/2 of 8 oz can sliced and peeled water chestnuts
  • 1/2 cup rice vinegar
  • 3 tbsp lite soy sauce
  • 3 tbsp cornstarch
  • 3 tbsp water
  • 6-7 green onions, sliced
  • 1 1/2 tbsp sesame oil
  • cayenne to taste (optional)
  • 1 cup cilantro plus extra for garnish


  1. In medium bowl, pour very hot water over mushrooms. Let sit for 20-30 minutes until reconstituted.  Once reconstituted, reserve 2 cups of the water the mushrooms were soaking in.  Cut off mushroom stems then slice in fairly large pieces (see photo below – each mushroom will yield about 4 slices).
  2. Meanwhile cut tofu into 1/4 – 1/2 inch matchsticks or cubes and dice jalepeno (do not discard seeds). Take half of the bamboo shoots from an 8oz can and cut into matchsticks. Take 1/2 of the sliced water chestnuts from an 8 oz can and slice any large pieces in half (see footnotes).
  3. Meanwhile, pour the 4 cups broth and 2 cups of the reserved mushroom liquid into a 3-4 quart pot and bring to a boil.  Reduce to a simmer and add in sliced mushrooms, tofu, diced jalepeno, red pepper flakes, bamboo shoots and water chestnuts. Simmer for 5 minutes.
  4. Add in rice viegar and soy sauce.
  5. Mix together cornstarch and 3 tbsp water and whisk until combined with no lumps. Slowly add half of the mixture to the soup then stir for a minute to thicken.  If you desire a thicker texture, add in more corstarch (I usually add in about 2/3’s to all of the mixture).
  6. Add in green onions and sesame oil and simmer for another 5 minutes.  Taste for heat and add in a few dashes of cayenne if you like.  Add in cilantro and remove from heat.
  7. Garnish with additional cilantro and enjoy.


You do not need to press the moisture out of the tofu since you are using in a soup. Simply drain the water off when you take it out of the package.  The tofu I buy comes in 12 oz packages so I use half a package and reserve the rest for another use.

Kids and adults alike usually love water chestnuts. Feel free to use the whole can if you like or nibble on the rest as you make the soup. Some of the water chestnuts come out of the can larger than others. I usually cut large slices in half.

I feel its important to use Shitake mushrooms in this.  I also prefer dried to fresh as they seem to have a meatier texture and more vibrant taste.  If you must use fresh, go for it but definitely use Shitake.  The dried mushrooms make this a easy pantry dish using items most of us have in the pantry when our refrigerators are on the empty side of grocery week.

If you like it spicy, feel free to use another jalepeno or go for an spicier version such as habanero.  Use the seeds as that is usually where the real “heat” is.  Eliminate the seeds if you really aren’t into spicy foods, although this is called HOT and sour soup.

I like to substitute arrowroot for corstarch but either will work.  Make sure to add in increments until you have the desired thickness.  Hot and Sour soup is known and loved for its thick and creamy-like texture so usually I end up using all the cornstarch.  If you use arrowroot you usually need less for the same result.  If you use cornstarch, I’d recommend looking for a brand that is free of GMO’s.

Experiment with the hot (jalepeno) and sour (rice vinegar) ratios.  If you like it less sour and more hot or vice versa just vary the ratios.

Once you add the cilantro, turn off the heat as you want to reserve that lemony flavor the cilantro will lose if cooked.

hot and sour soup prep

Hot and Sour Soup

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Categories: Recipes, Side Dishes, Soup, Vegan


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21 Comments on “Hot and Sour Soup (Vegan)”

  1. January 7, 2012 at 5:14 pm #

    This looks amazing! I’ll definitely have to try it.

  2. January 7, 2012 at 6:24 pm #

    Making this tomorrow!

    • January 7, 2012 at 7:38 pm #

      Exciting! Let me know how it turns out for you. Don’t forget to glance over the footnotes for easy changes you can make depending on your tastes. Enjoy!

  3. January 7, 2012 at 7:08 pm #

    This look tasty! I’m not into mushrooms, but I may give this a try 🙂

    • January 7, 2012 at 7:38 pm #

      VeganSistah, if you love mushrooms, they make this dish. But if you’re not much of a mushroom fan you can add in more tofu, water chestnuts and bamboo shoots. The recipe calls for half a can of the shoots and chestnuts so you can probably use a whole can here. The soup is brothy so if you leave the mushrooms out, it should be just fine. Experiment with the hot (jalepeno) and sour (rice vinegar) ratios too. If you like it less sour, more hot, just vary the ratios. This is really easy to make and really easy to change. Enjoy!

  4. January 7, 2012 at 11:48 pm #

    Yummmmm!! I love these soups when dining out. This looks fantastic! I’ll give it a go. 🙂

  5. January 9, 2012 at 3:16 pm #

    My mushrooms are soaking now…

    Funny this is one of my favourite soups (at least it was when I lived in the city), now that I am out in the mountains far far away from any asian take outs… I can’t believe I haven’t tried to make this before now!

    I really love hot and soup soup served over sizzling rice… not sure I want to deep fry a bunch of rice tonight though 🙂

    Thanks for the reminder, I’ll post about my results tomorrow at


    • January 9, 2012 at 3:23 pm #

      The mushrooms make this–I love them in soup! I’ll look foward to your review to see how you like it. I think it’s important to review the footnotes in this recipe especially if you have a certain way you like your Hot and Sour. It’s so versatile to change up while you are making it so you can go more hot/more sour. But once you add the cornstarch/arrowroot, it can be difficult to change without making it too watery. Taste test before you add that in and add more depending on your preference. Also, if you like more hot than sour, start with half or 2/3rd of the vinegar and add in more as you go. If you make changes, I’d love to know how your ratios ended up. Thanks!

  6. January 11, 2012 at 2:35 am #

    I loved the Asian flavors! amazing photographs

    Kavi (Edible Entertainment)

  7. January 25, 2012 at 5:54 pm #

    Glad to come across your blog, great recipes! I can’t wait to try this.

    Thank you for stopping by blog too. It’s great to see veggie meals turned up to ‘vogue’ status. I can’t remember how many times I’ve been served pasta at a restaurant when looking for a veg option!

    Namaste, Preena

    • January 25, 2012 at 7:15 pm #

      Why, thank you! Veggies definitely deserve to be en vogue. It’s amazing how much the world is learning that they can be the key to health and longevity. I love your blog and I look forward to following it, too. Cheers!

  8. January 28, 2012 at 5:46 am #

    Sounds a lovely recipe. My girlfriend and me enjoy vegetarian dishes and Asian food alot, great pics too 🙂

    • January 29, 2012 at 10:51 pm #

      Thank you! I hope you enjoy this soup. Let me know if you make any tasty additions or changes. Enjoy and thank you for visiting and commenting on my blog!

  9. January 30, 2012 at 10:08 am #

    Hello winter-warm-me-up!

  10. January 30, 2012 at 12:55 pm #


    Great recipe! I have made it twice now, and perfected it to our liking with extra heat, and just the right vinegar mix (I blended apple cider vinegar in). Here is my version

    I am making crispy rice right now… so that we can have this again this week on sizzling rice!

    Thanks again for the inspiration!

  11. Brandy Jouikov
    September 7, 2012 at 10:36 am #

    Can you use fresh shitakes instead of dried?

    • September 7, 2012 at 11:34 am #

      Dried mushrooms have a wonderful chewy texture you don’t get from fresh that gives soups a great substance. However, fresh mushrooms will work too. You just won’t get that unique texture but I’m sure it will still taste great. Let me know how it turns out!

  12. Chelsea
    February 17, 2016 at 4:27 pm #

    I really love this recipe. Its hard to find one thats vegan and not too complicated. This absolutely hits the spot on a cold winter night. Thank you so much! I also add sliced okra and pineapple juice to mine.
    My mushrooms never really soften though. They remain tough and chewy no matter how hot the water is. Any tips? Any brands that might be better? I’m using the only one they had at my grocery store, Rooster. Thanks again!


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