Hot and Sour Soup

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Hot and sour soup is a simple yet incredibly flavorful dish made with lots of fresh veggies and vibrant spices. It’s a spicy, sour and hot soup that’s popular in Indo-Chinese cuisine, and is very easy to make at home. Here you’ll find step-by-step instructions and photos to make the best vegan hot and sour soup from scratch.

hot and sour soup with coriander garnish in a soup bowl with a white spoon inside on a dark brown bamboo tray

About This Hot and Sour Soup

Comforting Soup Recipes are wonderful to make whenever the weather turns crisp and chilly. A local favorite is this hot and sour soup from the popular Indo Chinese cuisine. It has just the right combination of spiciness and a great sour flavor, so each sip is satisfying but leaves you wanting more.

Traditional hot and sour soup recipes typically are made with vinegar for the sourness, and include red or green chilies (or chili sauce) for heat. They also tend to include some type of protein along with a bounty of fresh vegetables.

My version as well is loaded with lots of seasonal veggies and tangy vinegar. However, this Indian-style recipe only uses black pepper for a kick of spiciness. I’ve also tweaked the classic dish to be meatless for a completely vegan hot and sour soup recipe.

Enjoy light and flavorful hot and sour soup as a starter or main dish with your favorite Chinese-inspired sides!

Step-by-Step Guide

How to make Hot and Sour Soup

Stir-frying veggies

1. First, prep the veggies.

  • Rinse and shred a small piece of cabbage and 5 to 6 french beans. I use red cabbage, but you can easily use green cabbage instead. You need ¼ cup shredded cabbage and ¼ cup of finely chopped french beans.
  • Wipe 5 to 6 button mushrooms with a wet cloth or rinse them in water. Then chop or slice them. You should get about ¾ cup of chopped or sliced button mushrooms.
  • Rinse, peel and grate 1 small carrot. You will be needing ¼ cup of grated carrots.
  • Chop 1 small onion or 1 to 2 spring onions (scallions). You want ¼ cup chopped onions or spring onion whites.
  • Peel, rinse and chop 1 inch ginger and 4 to 5 small to medium garlic cloves. You will need 1 teaspoon finely chopped ginger and 1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic.
  • Finely chop 1 small celery stick (optional) to get about 2 teaspoons of finely chopped celery.
bowl of fresh chopped veggies

2. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a pan or wok (kadai) or a pot. Add the finely chopped onions, ginger and garlic.

For the oil, use any neutral-flavored oil. Or opt to use toasted sesame oil for a smoky flavor.

heating onion and garlic in a wok

3. Stir and sauté over medium heat for 2 minutes.

saute the onions garlic and ginger

4. Then add the finely chopped french beans. Stir and mix.

adding sliced beans to the hot wok with onion and garlic

5. Add the chopped or sliced button mushrooms.

mushrooms with sauteed beans and garlic

6. Stir fry over medium-high heat, until the mushrooms get lightly browned around the edges.

stir frying the mushrooms

7. Meanwhile, make a paste or slurry of 4 to 5 teaspoons of cornstarch (known as cornflour in India) and 2 tablespoons of water. Set aside.

cornstarch mixture

8. After about 5 or 6 minutes the mushrooms will be lightly browned. Now add the carrots, cabbage and celery.

fresh chopped veggies in a wok

9. Stir fry on high heat for 2 to 3 minutes.

stir frying the veggies

Making Hot and Sour Soup

10. Add 2.5 cups water or Veg Stock to the pan or pot.

adding cornstarch to the pot

11. Mix the veggies with the water or vegetable stock very well.

mixing veggies with water

12. Add 3 teaspoons soy sauce and stir again. I suggest using a good quality of naturally fermented and brewed soy sauce.

adding soy sauce to the soup

13. Taste, and season with salt as needed. Keep a check on the amount of salt as soy sauce already has salt in it. I added just about ¼ teaspoon first and adjusted towards the end.

adding salt to the broth

14. Bring the soup to a gentle simmer.

simmer the soup mixture

15. Mix in the cornstarch paste.

cornstarch paste added

16. Stir and mix again very well.

mixing cornstarch paste with soup

17. Simmer for a few minutes to allow the soup to thicken. The cornstarch paste will help in thickening the soup. Continue to stir at intervals.

simmer the hot and sour soup and thicken it

18. When the soup has thickened, add ¾ teaspoon black pepper or white pepper or according to taste.

black pepper added to soup

19. Now add 2 teaspoons of rice vinegar, or any good quality Chinese vinegar or Mirin or Sake. If you like, you can also add a bit of chopped coriander (cilantro) at this point.

For some more protein consider adding tofu cubes or sprouts at this step and then simmer for a minute.

rice vinegar added to soup

20. Give a final stir to the hot and sour soup, and turn off the heat. Taste and add more soy sauce, vinegar, salt or black pepper as needed.

mix vinegar and pepper in the soup

21. Serve the vegan hot and sour soup hot and garnished with chopped coriander leaves (cilantro) or spring onion greens (scallion greens).

veg hot and sour soup in a black rimmed bowl or a dark brown bamboo tray

FAQs

What different types of vinegar can I use to make this hot and sour soup?

I have used rice vinegar in this dish. You can also use good quality Chinese vinegar. Even regular white vinegar can be added if you don’t have rice vinegar. Whatever kind of vinegar you use, be sure it is high quality for the best taste.

What veggies can be added to vegan hot and sour soup?

Feel free to add bell pepper, bok choy, broccoli, zucchini, napa cabbage, steamed corn, baby corn, bamboo shoots, sprouts and/or tofu to make this a heartier dish. You can also add dried mushrooms like shiitake or fresh button mushrooms or cremini mushrooms.

How do I make a thicker soup?

I personally like a thin broth-like consistency to my hot and sour soup. However, if you want a slightly thick consistency you can add 1 or 2 teaspoons more of the cornstarch.

Can this soup recipe be doubled?

Absolutely. As-is this recipe prepares 2 servings. Double or triple the recipe to feed a crowd.

How long do leftovers keep well?

I recommend storing this soup for a day only in the refrigerator. Vegetable soups are best enjoyed when hot and freshly cooked. Reheat on the stovetop or in a microwave.

More Tasty Soup Recipes!

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closeup shot of hot and sour soup in a black rimmed bowl or a dark brown bamboo tray

Hot and Sour Soup

Hot and Sour soup is a spicy and hot soup made with mixed fresh vegetables, mushrooms, spices and soy sauce. It's a popular soup from the Indo Chinese cuisine, and is very easy to make at home.
4.78 from 31 votes
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Total Time 30 mins
Cuisine Indo Chinese
Course Side Dish, Starters
Diet Vegan
Difficulty Level Easy
Servings 2
Units

Ingredients

  • 1 small carrot or about 50 grams carrots or ¼ cup grated carrots
  • 5 to 6 button mushrooms or ¾ cup sliced mushrooms
  • ¼ cup shredded cabbage
  • ¼ cup finely chopped french beans
  • 1 small onion – finely chopped or about ¼ cup finely chopped onions
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped ginger
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped celery – optional
  • 4 to 5 teaspoons cornstarch mixed in 2 tablespoons water – for a slight thicker soup, mix 6 to 7 teaspoons cornstarch in 3 tablespoons water
  • ¾ teaspoon black pepper powder or white pepper or ¾ teaspoon red chili paste or green chili sauce
  • 3 teaspoons soy sauce – naturally brewed, add as required
  • 2 teaspoons rice vinegar or add as required
  • 2.5 cups water or veg stock
  • 2 to 3 teaspoons chopped coriander leaves (cilantro)
  • 1 tablespoon oil – any neutral oil or toasted sesame oil
  • salt as required

Instructions
 

Preparation

  • First rinse and shred the cabbage and french beans. 
  • Wipe the mushrooms with a wet cloth and then slice them. You can also rinse the mushrooms in fresh water if you prefer.
  • Rinse, peel and grate the carrots. Chop the onions, ginger, celery and garlic.

Stir frying veggies

  • Heat oil in a pan or wok.
  • Add finely chopped onions, ginger and garlic. Stir and saute on a medium heat for 2 minutes.
  • Then add the finely chopped french beans. Stir and add the sliced mushrooms.
  • On a medium to high heat, stir fry till the mushrooms get lightly browned from the edges.
  • Meanwhile make a paste of corn starch and water. Keep aside.
  • Once the mushrooms are lightly browned (takes about 5 to 6 minutes on a medium to high heat) add carrots, cabbage and celery.
  • Stir fry these veggies on a high heat for 2 to 3 minutes.

Making hot and sour soup

  • Add water or veg stock. Stir well. Add soy sauce and stir.
  • Then season with salt. 
  • Keep a check on the amount of salt as soy sauce already has salt.
  • Bring the soup to a simmer on medium heat.
  • Stir the cornstarch paste and add it to the soup. Stir and mix again very well.
  • Allow the soup to thicken on a low to medium heat.
  • When the hot and sour soup has thickened, add black pepper or white pepper and vinegar.
  • Give a final stir. Switch off the heat. Check the taste and add more soy sauce, vinegar or salt or black pepper if needed.
  • Serve the hot and sour soup steaming hot garnished with coriander leaves (cilantro) or spring onion greens. 
  • You can also just add the cilantro towards the end and then serve the soup.

Notes

  • You can add veggies of your choice. Some options are cauliflower, zucchini, bell pepper, broccoli, bokchoy, napa cabbage, steamed sweet corn, baby corn, bamboo shoots. 
  • For more protein add tofu or sprouts. For a vegetarian soup, you can add paneer cubes.
  • Mushrooms like dried shiitake mushrooms or cremini mushrooms can be added. For shiitake mushrooms, first rinse and then rehydrate them in water by soaking them for a few hours. When they are softened, remove and discard the chewy base stalk, chop them and add to the soup.
  • Alter the flavors of your soup by adding less or more of the seasonings like soy sauce, black pepper and rice vinegar. 
  • For a thicker soup, increase the amount of cornstarch by 1 to 2 teaspoons.
  • For a gluten-free soup use tapioca starch or potato starch to thicken the soup instead of cornstarch. Swap soy sauce with Tamari or Coconut aminos or Bragg liquid aminos.
  • The recipe can be easily doubled or tripled to make a big batch of the soup.

Nutrition Info (Approximate values)

Nutrition Facts
Hot and Sour Soup
Amount Per Serving
Calories 145 Calories from Fat 63
% Daily Value*
Fat 7g11%
Saturated Fat 1g6%
Polyunsaturated Fat 1g
Monounsaturated Fat 6g
Sodium 1133mg49%
Potassium 465mg13%
Carbohydrates 18g6%
Fiber 4g17%
Sugar 6g7%
Protein 4g8%
Vitamin A 5354IU107%
Vitamin B1 (Thiamine) 1mg67%
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) 1mg59%
Vitamin B3 (Niacin) 3mg15%
Vitamin B6 1mg50%
Vitamin B12 1µg17%
Vitamin C 12mg15%
Vitamin D 1µg7%
Vitamin E 3mg20%
Vitamin K 37µg35%
Calcium 62mg6%
Vitamin B9 (Folate) 41µg10%
Iron 1mg6%
Magnesium 31mg8%
Phosphorus 98mg10%
Zinc 1mg7%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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This hot and sour soup recipe post from the archives (November 2014) has been republished and updated on 16 July 2021.

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Meet Dassana

Welcome to Dassana's Veg Recipes. I share vegetarian recipes from India & around the World. Having been cooking for decades and with a professional background in cooking & baking, I help you to make your cooking journey easier with my tried and tested recipes showcased with step by step photos & plenty of tips & suggestions.

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63 Comments

  1. Gave this recipe a go, turned out absolutely brilliant. The best part of following these recipes by Dassana is that it uses regular ingredients found in the indian household and does not send us shopping. My 9 year old daughter loved the soup and she has good taste in food. Spice level was easily adjusted as it only involved black pepper. It was easy to make and did not take much time to prepare. Will be making this soup many a times now5 stars

    1. Great to know and thanks for sharing a lovely feedback. Glad that your daughter loved the soup. Yes, soups like these do not take much time to make. Thanks again.

  2. Thanks to your blog,making soup has become very easy for me.i would refer to other recipes earlier where there was straining and hence wastage that I gave up.my hubby is very fond of soups so I make it almost daily especially in the winters and monsoons which we really enjoy.
    Tried this and it was just delicious.
    Try to give a feedback regularly just to let you know how your recipes have been helping me to prepare simple,tasty and healthy meals and also appreciate your efforts and the hard work that you put in.thanks once again.

    Regards
    Winnie4 stars

    1. thanks winnie. i know about the straining and wastage of vegetables, which even i do not prefer. i will be adding two more soup recipes as i have got many requests for it. one is a light version and the second one is a heavier one with cream and cheese. will add in a couple of weeks.

      i really appreciate your feedback in all the recipes you try and it always helps. it does take a considerable amount of time and effort to develop and test the recipe, then later take pics, then work on the pics and then work on the post. it is a process and takes some days or more depending on the recipe complexity. i also appreciate that you can relate to and understand the effort, hard work that goes in the entire process. thanks once more winnie and welcome.

  3. Hi,

    Thanks for the great recipe, it was a total hit in my house. just trying to eat healthy can you please suggest an alternative for cornstarch to?

    1. thanks for the feedback. alternatives to corn starch are tapioca flour, arrowroot flour and potato starch flour. hope this helps.

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