So, I actually made this Hot and Sour Soup last week, but got so busy with Thanksgiving madness that I didn’t have a chance to post it until today. But that’s okay, I figure you might need this recipe now, when you’re stuffed to the brim and maybe looking for something a little on the lighter side.
What is Hot and Sour Soup?
You may recognize hot and sour soup from your neighborhood Chinese take out menu. It’s a really flavorful soup with a tangy broth that isn’t too heavy or thick. I added some cubed tofu to the broth to give my soup a little more substance, then ladled it all over a bowl full of colorful vegetables. This is one of those awesome dishes that is not only really delicious, but you feel awesome about eating it because you just know it’s full of all sorts of “good for you” things. I love that.
What Makes Hot and Sour Soup Sour?
The sourness of the hot and sour soup comes from vinegar. The sour flavor helps keep this soup light, even though hot soup usually sits heavy on the stomach. It’s also a nice contrast to the spicy red chile sauce.
There are two options for serving this soup. Ladle the hot broth over the vegetables and let them slightly wilt from the heat, or stir the vegetables right into the pot of hot broth and let them cook until tender. The first option (ladling broth over vegetables) makes the best presentation, but if you’re not into slightly crisp, only lightly blanched vegetables, you might not like this option as much.
Cooking the vegetables in the broth makes them softer, but you will lose some of the vibrant color. And, as I found, while the soup sits in your fridge, the pretty purple from the cabbage bleeds out into the broth and then up into the tofu. It’s really kind of funny looking to see violet tofu cubes in your soup, but I promise the flavor is not compromised. :)
Easy Hot and Sour Soup with Vegetables and Tofu
- 1 Tbsp canola oil ($0.04)
- 1 Tbsp grated fresh ginger ($0.11)
- 4 green onions ($0.50)
- 1/4 red cabbage ($0.50)
- 3 carrots ( $0.26)
- 8 oz. button mushrooms ($1.99)
- 6 cups vegetable broth ($0.75)
- 1/2 Tbsp soy sauce (or more to taste) ($0.05)
- 1.5-2 Tbsp rice vinegar ( $0.19)
- 1 Tbsp chili garlic sauce or sambal olek ( $0.34)
- 14 oz. block extra firm tofu ($1.99)
- Thinly slice the cabbage, mushrooms, and the green onions (both the green and white ends of the onions). Peel the carrots, then either slice them thinly, use a vegetable peeler to slice them into ribbons, or cut them into thin sticks (julienne).
- Add the canola oil, grated ginger, and the sliced white ends of the green onion to a large pot. Sauté the ginger and onion over medium heat until soft (1-2 minutes). Add the vegetable broth to the pot, along with the soy sauce, vinegar, and chili garlic sauce. The amount of soy sauce, vinegar, and chili garlic sauce needed may be subjective and will depend on how much salt your vegetable broth contains. Start with a smaller amount of each, then add more to your taste. The final broth should be tangy and spicy. Heat the broth until piping hot.
- Drain the tofu, then cut it into small cubes (small enough to fit on a spoon). Add the tofu to the hot broth, and allow it to heat through ( a few minutes).
- Either add the sliced vegetables to the soup pot and cook until softened, or divide the vegetables into individual bowls for serving, then spoon the hot broth over top. Sprinkle the sliced green portion of the green onions over each bow. More chili garlic sauce can also be added to each bowl if desired.
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Scroll down to see the step by step photos!
How to Make Hot and Sour Soup – Step by Step Photos
Begin by prepping all of the vegetables. I used 1/4 head red cabbage (STILL trying to use up that cabbage weeks later!), an 8oz. container of button mushrooms, about 4 green onions, and a few carrots.
Thinly slice the cabbage, mushrooms, and green onions (you’ll be using both the green and white ends of the green onions at different points, so keep them separated). You can either cut the carrots into very thin sticks (julienne), or use a vegetable peeler to make thin ribbons (or hey, use a spiralizer!).
Grate about 1 Tbsp of fresh ginger, as well. I keep this little knob of ginger in my freezer and it really does make it SO much easier to grate. No stringy stuff clogging up the grater! :D
Add the white portion of the sliced green onions and the grated ginger to a large soup pot along with 1 Tbsp canola oil. Sauté the onion and ginger over medium heat until soft (about one or two minutes).
Add six cups of vegetable broth. I use Better Than Bouillon concentrate to make my broth. 1 tsp BTB + 1 cup water = 1 cup broth.
To the broth you’ll want to add about 1/2 Tbsp soy sauce (depending on how salty your broth already is), and 1.5 to 2 Tbsp of rice vinegar. Rice vinegar has a very mild flavor, but still has that nice tangy-sour effect. I like mine pretty sour, so I added 2 Tbsp of vinegar, but if you’re unsure, start with a smaller amount and add more until you get the broth where you like it.
For the hot component of the “hot and sour” broth, I used 1 Tbsp chili garlic sauce. You could also use sambal olek or even sriracha. If you don’t want your soup spicy at all, just leave it out.
Once you have the broth hot and sour to your liking, let it heat through until it’s piping hot.
Take one 14oz. block of extra firm tofu and drain the liquid from the package.
Cut the tofu into small cubes. You want the cubes small enough to fit on a soup spoon. I ended up making the rest of my cubes a bit smaller than the cubes shown above.
Finally, add the tofu cubes to the hot broth and let them warm through. They’ll absorb some of that super flavorful broth and get nice and tasty. At this point, you can add all of your sliced vegetables to the pot and let them get nice and tender, or…
Divide the sliced vegetables into individual bowls, and…
Pour the hot broth right over the thinly sliced vegetables. The hot broth will soften the vegetables just a bit, leaving you with a very fresh and tasty soup.
Sprinkle a few of the sliced green onions over top and add more chili garlic sauce if you like it super hot!
Or, just add all the vegetable to the pot and let them cook a little. Cooked red cabbage does lose it’s nice vibrant color, so just keep in mind that it won’t be quite as pretty this way (but still just as delicious!).
If you find you have more sliced vegetables than you can use in the soup, switch it up one night and make them into a quick stir fry! Or, add them into your Dragon Noodles. :)
This is a really easy and versatile recipe. I usually use coleslaw mix (the bagged shredded lettuce and carrots) with lots of onion and mushrooms. Siracha will work in a pinch for the heat but if you use it add some garlic. I like to cook the vegetables a little bit serve topped with a poached egg.
Try this to take it to a whole new level of savory delight – Roast your tofu: coat it in your fav flavoring (I like garlic, olive oil, salt, balsamic vinegar-just a little.. but enough marinade to cover the tofu nicely) and bake/roast it in the oven at ~ 425F .. best to slice it into more thinner (~1/4″ thick strips – which can be later cubed – key is to keep it on the thin side. Also place it on parchment paper. Roast for ~ 20-30 min? flip it over after 15-20 min. you want it nicely coated with a bit of texture, but not overcooked, so watch to not overcook. Then add this to the soup, rather than just ‘naked’ tofu. MMMMmmm.
I just made this tonight, in a single serving, for myself, and it was delicious! It reminded me of hot & sour soup I’ve had at Asian restaurants. Thanks!
When my favorite Chinese Restaurant closed 10 years ago, I tried and tried to find a good take out hot and sour soup. But like goldilocks, one was too sour, one was too hot and one was very greasy. I am a good cook, but thought this would be hard to make or use hard to find ingredients. I was sooo wrong.
This recipe is very adaptable and gives a great tasty result. I actually make this one bowl at a time whenever I am looking for a quick lunch or dinner. I microwave chicken stock ( I use the boxed unsalted kind ) add the flavorings and then pour over the veggies in a bowl. its really delicious. Since I don’t like tofu – I add a spoon or so of rice or even noodles.
Simple and delicious! I will make again.