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.
Table of Contents
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!
How to make Hot and Sour Soup
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.
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.
3. Stir and sauté over medium heat for 2 minutes.
4. Then add the finely chopped french beans. Stir and mix.
5. Add the chopped or sliced button mushrooms.
6. Stir fry over medium-high heat, until the mushrooms get lightly browned around the edges.
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.
8. After about 5 or 6 minutes the mushrooms will be lightly browned. Now add the carrots, cabbage and celery.
9. Stir fry on high heat for 2 to 3 minutes.
Making Hot and Sour Soup
10. Add 2.5 cups water or Veg Stock to the pan or pot.
11. Mix the veggies with the water or vegetable stock very well.
12. Add 3 teaspoons soy sauce and stir again. I suggest using a good quality of naturally fermented and brewed soy sauce.
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.
14. Bring the soup to a gentle simmer.
15. Mix in the cornstarch paste.
16. Stir and mix again very well.
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.
18. When the soup has thickened, add ¾ teaspoon black pepper or white pepper or according to taste.
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.
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.
21. Serve the vegan hot and sour soup hot and garnished with chopped coriander leaves (cilantro) or spring onion greens (scallion greens).
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.
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.
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.
Absolutely. As-is this recipe prepares 2 servings. Double or triple the recipe to feed a crowd.
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.
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Hot and Sour Soup
- 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
- 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.
- 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)
This hot and sour soup recipe post from the archives (November 2014) has been republished and updated on 16 July 2021.