Restaurant-Style Chinese Hot and Sour Soup

Authentic Restaurant Style Chinese Hot Sour Soup

Good restaurant Chinese hot and sour soup has a very distinct flavor that can be challenging to replicate.  And not all restaurant hot and sour soups are created equal.  Not by a long shot.  Though you may not be able to pinpoint the difference, you can tell when shortcuts have been taken.  And have you noticed that you can generally predict the quality of the entree based on the quality of the hot and sour soup?  A really good hot and sour soup is a good omen for the food to follow.

Here is an authentic Chinese Hot and Sour Soup recipe that I carefully crafted, paying very close attention to detail.  This is the real deal.  It is as good as the best hot and sour soup you have enjoyed at your favorite Chinese restaurant.  I’m confident you’ll agree.  I’ve included detailed step-by-step pictures to familiarize you with some of the lesser known ingredients and to ensure your success in making it.  This is an easy soup to make, it just involves some prep work.  Get the prep work out of the way – much of which can be done well in advance – and then all you have to do is combine the ingredients.  Once you’ve made it and are familiar with the ingredients and the steps involved, making it the next time will be a breeze and you’ll become famous among your friends and family for the best Chinese Hot and Sour Soup in town!

Before we get started, let me introduce you to a couple of key ingredients in this soup that you may not be familiar with.

This soup uses two types of dried mushrooms, Shiitake and Wood Ear.  While most of you have heard of shiitake mushrooms, wood ear mushrooms, also called cloud ears or black fungus, are less commonly known.

Hot Sour Soup prep 1

Wood ear mushrooms grow on trees and…look like ears!

wood ears

They’re usually sold in dried form and often already sliced.

According to the Mycological Society of San Francisco:

“[Wood Ear mushrooms] are used for their crisp, snappy texture and their color rather than their taste. The Chinese regularly add [wood ear] to dishes because they think it improves breathing, circulation, and well-being. And they may be correct. Recent studies of the medicinal effects of [wood ear] have identified a chemical that tends to inhibit blood clotting. Since blood vessel diseases, strokes, and heart attacks are associated with clotting, perhaps moderate ingestion of this mushroom as food may indeed confer long life and good health on its users.”

Next ingredient:  Day Lilies.

day lilies

There are a number of culinary uses for day lilies.  Fresh day lilies are great in salads, stuffed, battered and fried, or sauteed.  They are also very nutritious, packing a variety of vitamins.  Day lilies also play an important role in Chinese traditional medicine where they are used to help detoxification, urinary problems, jaundice, insomnia, coughs and…ahem…hemorrhoids.

Day lilies have been used as both food and medicine in China for over 2000 years.

A key ingredient in Chinese Hot and Sour Soup, dried day lilies can be purchased in Asian grocery stores, usually in the refrigerated section.

Hot Sour Soup prep 4

Now that you’re familiar with these two lesser known ingredients, let’s get started on the soup!

Place the mushrooms in a bowl.

Hot Sour Soup prep 2

Pour boiling water over them and soak for 20 minutes.  Reserve 1 cup of the mushroom liquid.

Hot Sour Soup prep 3

Give the day lilies a brief rinse.

Hot Sour Soup prep 5

Place the day lilies in a bowl and pour hot water over them.  Soak for 20 minutes.

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While the mushrooms and day lilies are soaking, prepare the remaining ingredients.

Julienne the pork.

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Mince 1 teaspoon of fresh ginger.

Hot Sour Soup prep 18

Place the pork in a small bowl and combine with the ginger and 1 teaspoon of soy sauce.  Set aside while preparing the remaining ingredients.

Hot Sour Soup prep 19

Drain and julienne the bamboo shoots.

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Cut the tofu into 1/4 inch cubes.

Hot Sour Soup prep 8

Drain the day lilies and squeeze out any excess liquid.  Cut the hard ends off the lilies.  Slice the lilies lengthwise.

Hot Sour Soup prep 11

Chop the lilies into 1 inch lengths.

Hot Sour Soup prep 12

Squeeze the water from the mushrooms.  Slice the shiitakes and chop the wood ear mushrooms.

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All the ingredients are now ready!

Hot Sour Soup prep 15

Bring the chicken stock and reserved mushroom liquid to a boil and add the soy sauce, vinegar, chile oil, sugar, hot sauce (adding more according to desired level of heat), and pepper. Add the pork, stirring to prevent the pork from sticking together, the bamboo shoots, and mushrooms. Simmer for 2 minutes.

Hot Sour Soup prep 20

Add the day lilies and the cornstarch mixture. Return to a boil and simmer for another minute until slightly thickened.

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Add the tofu and simmer for another minute.

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Lightly whisk the eggs in a bowl.

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Pour the egg mixture in a steady stream into the simmering soup, remove from heat, and let sit for 20 seconds to let set in fine strands. Stir gently.

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Add the sesame oil and green onions.

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You’re ready to eat!  A delicious bowl of authentic, restaurant-style Chinese hot and sour soup!

Hot Sour Soup 3 sm


And now for THE GIVEAWAY!

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That’s right, we have more delicious mushrooms to give away!  One lucky winner will receive two packages of dried mushrooms from FungusAmongus!  One package of organic dried shiitake mushrooms and one package of wild-harvested wood ear mushrooms, enough to make several batches of this phenomenal soup, or to use however you like!  Wood ear mushrooms, for example, are also used in the very popular Chinese dish Mu Shu Pork.  And of course shiitake mushrooms are as versatile as they are delicious.

Just leave a comment below this post sharing why you’d like to try these mushrooms and you’ll be entered to win!  The giveaway begins May 20 and will end May 26.  The winner will be randomly selected and receive notification via email!  U.S. addresses only.

And of course you can “like” The Daring Gourmet on Facebook.  It won’t count as an additional entry this time, but I’ll sure feel loved :)

P.S.  I am not being compensated for this post.  I received some mushrooms from FungusAmongUs to try and the opinions expressed are my own.

Restaurant Style Chinese Hot and Sour Soup
Cuisine: Chinese
Serves: 4-6
  • 4 large dried shiitake mushrooms
  • ¼ cup wood ear mushrooms
  • ½ cup dried day lilies
  • ¼ lb pork, finely julienned
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ginger, finely minced
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 5 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup reserved mushroom soaking liquid
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground white pepper
  • 4-5 tablespoons black vinegar according to desired sourness (see note)
  • ½ cup bamboo shoots, drained and julienned
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch mixed in ¼ cup water
  • 1 cup tofu, cut into ¼ inch cubes
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 2 teaspoons chili oil, or more depending on heat preference
  • 1 teaspoon hot sauce (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped green onions
  1. Place the shiitake and wood ear mushrooms in a glass bowl and pour boiling water over them. Soak for 20 minutes. Reserve 1 cup of the mushroom liquid, discard the rest. Squeeze the liquid from the mushrooms. Slice the shiitakes and chop the wood ear mushrooms.
  2. While the mushrooms are soaking, quickly rinse the dried day lilies and soak them in hot water for 20 minutes. Discard the liquid, squeezing any excess from the lilies, cut the hard tips off the bottoms, slice the lilies lengthwise and chop into 1 inch lengths.
  3. While the mushrooms and day lilies are soaking, place the pork in a small bowl and combine it with the ginger and teaspoon soy sauce. Set aside while you're preparing the other ingredients.
  4. Bring the chicken broth and the reserved cup of mushroom liquid to a boil in a stock pot. Add the soy sauce, vinegar, sugar, chile oil, hot sauce (adding more according to desired level of heat), and pepper.
  5. Add the pork, stirring to prevent the pork from sticking together, the bamboo shoots, and mushrooms. Simmer for 2 minutes.
  6. Add the day lilies and the cornstarch mixture. Return to a boil and simmer for another minute until slightly thickened. Add the tofu and simmer for another minute.
  7. Pour the egg mixture in a steady stream into the simmering soup, remove from heat, and let sit for 20 seconds to let set in fine strands. Stir gently.
  8. Add the sesame oil and green onions.
If you don't have black vinegar, the closest substitute is balsamic vinegar.


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57 Responses

  1. wrote on

    I would love to win these mushrooms because I love a really good hot & sour soup. And this recipe sounds wonderful. Thank you for posting it.

  2. Marysue Feltman

    wrote on

    Oh goodie, goodie, goodie! I LOVE Hot and Sour soup, and the restaurant that we used to go to for it has closed. :o( So, thank you for the recipe! As for the shrooms…my first EVER mushroom was a shiitake, and its STILL my favorite! I use it even when a dish calls for a different one…yes, I’m dedicated! ;o)

  3. wrote on

    I love shiitake mushrooms. Who am I kidding? I love ALL mushrooms, at least all the ones I have tried. Have never had the chance to try wood ear mushrooms and would love the opportunity. Thank you!

  4. Danny H

    wrote on

    Funny Story..The name of the Mushrooms are the nickname we gave a kid in High School.
    I love Hot Sour Soup..Its the best when your not feeling well. I’m going to make this and CHEERS to fungus the mungas..1975

  5. Chia

    wrote on

    I’ve enjoyed Chinese food for something like 60 years, have learned to prepare a few dishes and have particularly enjoyed Sweet & Sour Soup. Send me these mushrooms and I will learn to make it. And I expect I’ll make it even without winning the mushrooms.

  6. Quenna

    wrote on

    I would love to make this soup! I love hot and sour; I’ve always used shiitakes, but never the wood ear mushrooms. I’ve heard of using a black fungus, but can never find it. It looks as though these are similar, if not the same thing…?

    • The Daring Gourmet

      wrote on

      Hi Quenna! Yes, they’re one and the same! Wood ear mushrooms can be found in Asian stores – called Black Fungus there and imported from China. And then of course there are the ones available from FungusAmongUs which are harvested here.

  7. wrote on

    YUM! One of my favorite soups. Can’t wait to try making it at home! Thanks.

    • The Daring Gourmet

      wrote on

      Thanks, Jeanette, and thanks for visiting! Let me know if you make it and what you think! P.S. I think you should open up a branch of your catering business here in WA – you’re food selection sounds fantastic! :)

  8. wrote on

    I am so fascinated with Asian cookery! When sourcing something new to cook..I usually go for Asian or Latin because I love the hunt for exotic ingredients. I recently visited an Asian grocery store and was in heaven!!! Its very true what you say…the caliber of a good Chinese restaurant is in the soup! And hot and sour happens to be my fave!

  9. wrote on

    I would love to try this soup, and these mushrooms look amazing. Sign me up :)

  10. Jenna

    wrote on

    Looks so yummie!!!!
    Do you mind sharing the brand or type of hot sauce you are using?

    • The Daring Gourmet

      wrote on

      Hi Jenna! You know, I don’t know what brand it was! I just used up the last of what was left of some generic brand I had in the fridge. You may not need any at all depending on your heat level preference. The chili oil is also hot.

  11. Brooke

    wrote on

    Well, I would definitely like use them in this soup now!

  12. Michelle

    wrote on

    Because this is my most fav restaurant soup ever! and I’d love to make it as soon as they arrive in the mail!

  13. Debbie Jennings

    wrote on

    Sounds delish! Can’t wait to try it. Thanks for the giveaway opportunity! : )

  14. Sharla

    wrote on

    I love Hot and Sour soup it, is my favorite and I have not found a good homemade one until now, made it and loved it. Thank you.

    • The Daring Gourmet

      wrote on

      Wow, you wasted no time, Sharla! Thanks for making it and for your feedback – so glad you enjoyed it!

  15. Anonymous

    wrote on

    This looks like my new go to hot and sour soup recipe … if only i could win the mushrooms! Thank you for a great post.

    • The Daring Gourmet

      wrote on

      Thanks for the compliment! I hope you’ll give it a try and let me know what you think!

  16. Carl

    wrote on

    Made your recipe last night….exceptional, thank you! Did I miss when to add the sugar?

    • The Daring Gourmet

      wrote on

      Hi Carl! Fantastic! I’m so happy you made and enjoyed it! No, I missed when to add the sugar! Thanks for noticing that – I’ve just added it to the instructions portion of the recipe. Thanks so very much for your feedback!

      • Roger

        wrote on

        Where do you get black vinegar and chili oil? Want to make a triple batch of this!

        • The Daring Gourmet

          wrote on

          Hi Roger! Both of these ingredients are staples in Chinese cooking and you can readily find them both at any Asian store. If you don’t have one in your area, they’re also easily found online. So happy you’re making this! Let me know what you think once you’ve had the chance to try it!

  17. Anonymous

    wrote on

    What a fantastic recipe. I made this today and it is spectacular. I have the ingredients because I order take out and add the good stuff when the Chinese restaurant leaves them out or adds only a little to save money. I add baby bok choy sometimes to this and I like it. I like the matchstick bamboo shoots and add water chestnuts for texture.

    • The Daring Gourmet

      wrote on

      I’m so happy to hear that you liked it! That’s great that you keep those ingredients on hand to embellish and authenticate the restaurant versions :) And since you end up having to go through the effort of doing that, you might as well just make it completely from scratch, right? Thanks again for making this and for your feedback!

      • Anonymous

        wrote on

        I’m going to try this delicious sounding and looking recipe. I love the way you display the directions with photographs.!

        • The Daring Gourmet

          wrote on

          Thank you so much for the compliment! Be sure to let me know what you think once you’ve had the chance to try it! :)

  18. wrote on

    […] Dried flowers, which can be found in Asian supermarkets, can be added to soups and other dishes. Dried daylilies are a key ingredient Chinese hot and sour soup. […]

  19. wrote on

    I love hot and sour soup and I live in a small town where some ingredients would not be easy to come by … :(

    • The Daring Gourmet

      wrote on

      Hi Naomi! Yes, some of these ingredients would definitely be challenging to find in a small town. I’m fortunate in that I have access to several Asian stores in my area. I’ll provide some links in the recipe box to where these ingredients can be conveniently purchased online through Amazon for those who cannot purchase them locally. Hope that helps!

  20. Kathryn Smith

    wrote on

    It is vedry difficult to find any chinese ingredients on the North Island in NZ. I used to be able to find loads of shops in Christchurch, but none since moving here. Would love to have some ingredients

    • The Daring Gourmet

      wrote on

      Hi Kathryn! Yes, I would imagine it’s very challenging. Are you able to find those ingredients online from where you are?

  21. Rahul

    wrote on

    This soup truly looks divine! I am going to have to improvise a lot as far as the ingredients are concerned!!

    • The Daring Gourmet

      wrote on

      Hi Rahul! Yes, depending on where you live some of these ingredients can be very difficult if not impossible to find in local stores. I’ve included links in the recipe where you can purchase these ingredients online, but I realize that may not be an option either. Good luck with your improvisations and let us know how it goes!

  22. wrote on

    I have researched many hot and sour soup recipes. This is the first I have found that used fresh minced ginger. It adds an additional layer of unexpected flavour to the pork. I will have to seek out FUNGUS AMOUNG US. I live in rural Michigan and had to send to Thailand for dried lily flowers.

    • The Daring Gourmet

      wrote on

      Hi Janet and welcome! There are several companies that sell dried mushrooms here in the U.S., FungusAmongUs being one of them. I was fortunate to have found the lilies in a local Asian store, but I know that many areas don’t have access to such stores, so I included some links to where some of these ingredients can be purchased online. Thanks so much for visiting and I hope you’ll return again and again!

  23. Anonymous

    wrote on

    I used vegetable broth because that’s what I had on hand, and fresh sprouts in place of the lily.some rooster sauce, and a fresh tomato, wedged and and added towards the end.

  24. Anonymous

    wrote on

    Thank you for the recipe and step by step instructions

    • The Daring Gourmet

      wrote on

      You are very welcome! I’m happy you found my recipe and hope you enjoy it!

  25. Charity

    wrote on

    I’m going to try this tomorrow making stock using my Thanksgiving turkey carcass. I don’t have the day lillies but can’t wait for them to arrive! I don’t have wood ear or shiitakes but have oyster and lots of morels (I’m in MT so have lots of dried morels I pick). I figure it’s worth a shot. It sounds so good, I just can’t wait. I’m adding some rice noodles to make it a meal. I’d like something to serve with it but nothing comes to mind- any ideas?

    Thanks for the recipe- I’m drooling… :-) I’m too late to win the ‘shrooms- snivel, sniffle

    • The Daring Gourmet

      wrote on

      Hi Charity! That’s great that you’re going to make this! And I’m envious that you have so many morels. Washington State, where I live, is known for its morel harvests too, but I haven’t harvested any yet. My husband and I went mushroom foraging a few months ago and found some gorgeous chanterelles. This Spring we’re definitely going to try and find some morels. What to serve with the soup…if you don’t care about keeping the Chinese theme consistent, I would just go with some rolls and a salad. If you want to stick to the Chinese theme, egg rolls would be a great accompaniment (homemade tastes best, of course, but to save time there are some good store-bought/frozen ones). You can just pop those in the oven and have them ready with the soup. It also depends on whether you’re having the soup as more of a main dish or as a side dish/appetizer. If it’s the main dish, then something the egg rolls, a small side serving of fried rice or stir-fried noodles would be great. If you have it in mind more as a starter, then any of the Chinese main dishes on here would be great (scroll down the page on my blog a little ways and on the right sidebar you’ll see a “categories” dropdown box. You can select “China” to bring up all the Chinese recipes. They’re all fantastic and relatively quick (the Orange Chicken takes a bit longer). But the Shanghai Noodles, just for example, are super quick and very good. And now I’m just starting to ramble… :) Whatever you decide to do, I’m sure it’ll be fantastic and whoever you’re enjoying the meal with is lucky to have someone who’s willing to be adventurous in the kitchen!

  26. Charity

    wrote on

    me again- is there a specific sub for black vinegar? I’m guessing rice vinegar but don’t want to mess up the soup.

    p.s. you wouldn’t believe (maybe you would) how many hot & sour soup recipes call for MSG. Nice to find a REAL recipe

    Great site btw

    • The Daring Gourmet

      wrote on

      Thanks for the compliment, Charity :) The closest substitute for black vinegar would be balsamic vinegar. Just do a direct substitution – same quantity.

  27. wrote on

    hi, what kind of tofu did you use? firm?

    • The Daring Gourmet

      wrote on

      Hi Hannah! Typically firm tofu is used but it really comes down to personal preference – whether you prefer a firm tofu in a soup or rather a soft one that dissolves more easily in your mouth with each bite of soup.

  28. rick mattox

    wrote on

    I love trying new products as well as foods that are not commonly used. This is the most interesting h/s soup recipe I’ve seen and would like to try it for my family. Nothing is more pleasing than seeing the smiles on their faces when they taste a delicious new recipe for the first time.

    • The Daring Gourmet

      wrote on

      That is so true, Rick! I’m glad you share the same adventurous spirit. It’s so much fun experimenting with new flavors and ingredients and I consider myself lucky that my family enjoys it as much as I do. Happy cooking! Best, Kimberly

  29. Norm Goldman

    wrote on

    I am an amateur cook and your instructions make it so easy that I can’t wait to go ot to the Asian grocery store to pck up the necessary supplies for Hot and Sour soup. Thank you.

    • Kimberly @ The Daring Gourmet

      wrote on

      You’re welcome, Norm, I’m excited you’ll be making this! Happy cooking and enjoy!

  30. Bob

    wrote on

    Hot n Sour soup is the best thing a person can eat when feeling a bit under the weather and I have it at least 3 times a week just because I love it so much! I`m familiar with most mushrooms including the delicious local “sponge” mushroom we have here in the Midwest. I can`t wait to try this recipe!

    • Kimberly @ The Daring Gourmet

      wrote on

      It sure is, Bob! I’ve always been fascinated by all the different kinds of edible mushrooms. I’m not familiar with the Midwest sponge mushroom but there are a number of mushrooms that can be substituted in this soup. Your local mushroom may elevate this soup to new heights! Happy cooking, Bob!

  31. Anonymous

    wrote on

    Hi Kimberly,
    Phil from Liverpool UK here. Tried your recipe this evening and have to say very impressed. Our restaurants here in England include prawns (that’s shrimp to you :-) ) and the soup is served with a distinct reddish colour so i added some prawns and added a few drops of red food colouring into the stock which worked well. Gutted when i realised half way thorugh i ran out of eggs, but still the end product was really really good. Kudos to you..recipe is great and for sure will be making another batch real soon!!!

    • Kimberly @ The Daring Gourmet

      wrote on

      Fantastic, Phil, I’m so happy to hear you enjoyed it and really appreciate your feedback! Yes, I lived in England for 7 years and am very familiar with the term prawns and a whole host of other words that have become very endearing to me :)


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