We all over-indulge this time of year, and that’s exactly why this hot and sour chicken soup is timely. Did anybody else lose track of the number of cookies and fudge they ate yesterday? All I know is that it felt like a marathon of eating. The kind where I considered taking a vacation from eating anything at all. EVER.
Except, we have to eat. Darn. That’s why I’m sharing this savory, easy soup recipe. Not only will it nourish you for a week straight, it will help us strike a balance between festivities and bodily comfort.
Do you own a large pot that could fit a whole chicken? If so, you get to make this entire soup in 1 pot! If you’re like me, this will come as a relief to know. Also to bolster your spirit, you can reheat and eat bowl after bowl throughout the entire week. Or do like me and freeze half of the soup and save for later!
My brother from another mother, Steve, knows I am OBSESSED with hot and sour soup. In high school, we filled our bellies with Chinese food as much as possible, but especially the hot and sour soup at PF Chang’s. Another fun fact, I had the best bowl of hot and sour soup in Kentucky at a Chinese restaurant. A seldom known fact that I used to my advantage last night in a game of Chamelion (affiliate link). If you’ve never played this game, it is so fun! My family was TOTALLY INTO IT and played for hours.
Mushrooms in Hot and Sour Soup
So, traditional hot and sour soup uses Chinese fungi, such as wood ears or cloud ears. My prerogative was to Americanize this for those of us who need to do our shopping at 1 store. Right?!
Ideally, you have access to shiitakes and can easily remove the stem with a pair of kitchen shears (my favorite hack). Simply cut into strips from there (affiliate link). My store was OUT of shiitakes, so I went with the blander alternative, white button mushrooms.
Either way, the broth is rich enough in flavor to carry the soup so don’t fret about the mushroom variety too much.
A word about mincing ginger
My mom pointed to my microplane yesterday and asked what it was (affiliate link). And I was like, Oh yeah. There are people who don’t know about this awesome tool. You won’t believe how useful a microplane is for grating ginger and zesting citrus. It’s sharp so just keep those fingers away while using. I call for minced ginger in this recipe because it imparts the broth with that bang bang pow that we also NEED this time of year, not in cookie form.
If you’ve had hot and sour soup, you know that it’s got this thickness to it that makes me go mmmmmm. To get this, we add a solution of part water, part starch. Cornstarch has zero flavor and is used for this very purpose. BUT, don’t discard what you might already have. Tapioca starch or rice starch will help you achieve the same effect. Now, you need to apply HEAT after you’ve added your slurry to see the thickening magic happen. So, wait for it before adding more. This recipe has been tested, so if your soup doesn’t thicken, it’s possible your cornstarch is very old and should be thrown out.
Is Stock Broth?
In a word, nope. Stock is generally unseasoned and bland. You make the stock with aromatics like onion, ginger, and peppercorns. Then, when you go adding things like salt, soy sauce, etc it becomes broth. A broth is the final soup that you serve because it tastes good.
White Peppercorns vs. Black
White pepper is so bitingly strong, that I rarely use it. A little bit goes a looooong way, but it’s crucial in hot and sour soup. That being said, if you can only find ground white pepper, go ahead and substitute black for making the stock. Then, add the ground white pepper to season the broth at the end. That way, you’ll at least achieve that signature flavor profile we want in a hot and sour soup.
Hot and Sour Chicken Soup
Chicken Stock Base
- 1 5 pound whole chicken, giblets and organs removed
- 1 bunch green onion, cleaned and broken in half with hands
- 4 cloves garlic, smashed
- 3-inch piece fresh ginger, sliced lengthwise in half
- 1 onion, halved
- 1 tsp whole white peppercorns
- 4 quarts filtered water
Hot and Sour Soup
- 2 tbsp canola oil
- 1-in piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated on a microplane
- 1 tbsp sambal oelek chile paste
- 8 oz canned sliced bamboo shoots, drained
- 8 oz shiitake mushrooms, de-stemmed, sliced
- 1/2 cup soy sauce, Kikkoman or San-J
- 1/2 cup rice vinegar
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tbsp ground white pepper
- 1 pinch sugar
- 14 oz firm tofu, drained, medium dice
- 1/4 cup cornstarch, mixed with 1/4 cup water
- 3 large eggs, stirred
- green onion, sliced thinly for garnish
Chicken Stock Base
- Put the whole chicken in a large pot with tall sides over medium heat. Toss in all the soup base ingredients and cover the chicken with filtered water. Simmer gently for 1 hour uncovered, turning the chicken half way through.
- Carefully remove chicken with tongs and place on a cutting board until you can safely handle it. Remove the skin and shred the white and dark meat for use in the chicken soup. Strain onions and ginger, and reserve chicken stock for soup.
Hot and Sour Soup
- Heat the oil in a large pan or wok over medium-high heat. Add the ginger, chile paste, bamboo, and mushrooms; cook and stir for 2 minutes to develop the flavor.
- Add the soy sauce, rice vinegar, salt, white pepper, and sugar. Toss to combine and cook for 1 more minute until fragrant. Transfer to the chicken stock pot and bring to a boil. Then simmer for 10 minutes. Add tofu and shredded chicken.
- Thicken the soup by adding a slurry of cornstarch mixed with water (scrape the sides to get all of the cornstarch in the water). Simmer until the soup thickens and turn off heat.
- Stir broth to create a current and simultaneously pour the mixed eggs into the soup to get strands of cooked egg. Season to taste and garnish with green onion to serve.
This recipe was inspired by Tyler Florence’s Hot and Sour Soup with pork.
I’m so excited you’re making this recipe! Be sure to leave a comment and a rating. Tag me @thefrayedapron on Instagram. I wanna see your masterpiece!