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Hot and Sour Soup /

Suan La Tang (酸辣汤) Hot and Sour Soup

September 25, 2017

Suan La Tang (酸辣汤) Hot and Sour Soup has many different exciting flavor combinations; sour from the vinegar, savory from the broth and hot and spicy from the white pepper.

Hot and Sour Soup /

Hot and Sour Soup /

Hot and Sour Soup is spicy, sour, savory, nourishing and tops off as one of our favorite soups. It has complex flavors and has you keep going back for just one more bite. We love serving it along with a little steamed white rice and it is a complete meal or a lovely starter soup for a Chinese dinner. We first posted this recipe on September 24, 2011 and have made it at least a million times since so we thought you might like to see some updated photos and new interesting how to's we learned along the way.
Hot and Sour Soup /
酸辣汤 Suan la Tang literally means ... Suan = sour, La de = Hot, and Tang = Soup. We used ground pork as it gives this soup so much added flavor. Pork is warming and gives depth and flavor to the Hot and Sour Soup. However, you could make this soup completely vegan by eliminating the pork and using vegetable broth.
Autumn is a beautiful time of the year when our body craves warmth and comfort. Hot and sour soup is great dish to serve to keep those energies flowing. Hot and sour soup is a Chinese soup usually from the Northern cuisines of Beijing and Sichuan.
Hot and Sour Soup /
As we welcome autumn and the change of seasons, the air is more dry, cooler and windy. Hot and Sour Soup is the perfect for the fall as it is warming and also sour. In traditional Chinese medicine  (TCM) the Lung system governs respiration and elimination and is of prime importance in the fall. The lungs provide energy in the form of respiration and act as one the first line of defense against external pathogens.  A weak Lung system can make us more susceptible during the cold and flu season.  Sour foods like Hot and Sour soup is the perfect stay healthy remedy during the fall as it keeps the lungs moist. The spice of the white pepper is warming and along with a nice scarf to keeps those cold winds off your back and neck is prevention for keeping your body strong to prevent illness.
Hot and Sour Soup /
 About 30 some years ago, we met someone who transformed our thoughts regarding Chinese Cooking and her name is Christine Liu. Prior to meeting this very accomplished Chinese chef, teacher and author of many Chinese cooking books, we had only experience cooking "American Chinese Dishes". Christine taught us very traditional Chinese dishes lightened up. One of our favorite recipe books by Christine Liu is More Nutritional Chinese Cooking . No affiliate links, we just really like this cookbook.
Hot and Sour Soup /

One of our favorite recipes from this cookbook is Suan La Tang (酸辣汤) Hot and Sour Soup. We adjusted this recipe to make it easier to assemble. Chinese hot and sour soup is usually pork based, and often contains ingredients such as day lily, dried wood ear fungus, bamboo shoots, tofu, vinegar, and white ground pepper.  Many of these items can be exchanged or left out without too many changes to the taste and quality of the recipe.

However, there are 2 ingredients that make this Hot and Sour Soup special and they are...1) Chinkiang Vinegar (rice based black vinegar is a famous vinegar from the city of Zhenjiang) It is a dark complex vinegar that just cannot really be substituted. 2) ground white pepper. We feel that these 2 special ingredients cannot be substituted as they are the bones to this delicious soup.

Hot and Sour Soup /

Just as a heads up Chinkiang vinegar (black rice vinegar) is NOT gluten-free. If you are celiac, you will need to sway away from the dark vinegar and go with a gluten-free rice wine vinegar instead.

We understand that it may be difficult to obtain day lily and dried wood ear fungus, so we have left them out of this recipe but if you can get your hands on these ingredients be sure to add them as they are delicious.  We like using the dried mushrooms because we use the mushroom broth created from the reconstituting of the dry mushrooms right in the soup base. Really delicious! If you want to make this recipe lower in carbohydrates exchange the cornstarch and water slurry with an additional egg streamed in and it will make it thicker and velvety.

Hot and Sour Soup /

Mid-Autumn Festival is right around the corner. Are you ready? We are going to be enjoying our Apple Pecan Spring Roll Mooncakes,  Snowy Mooncakes  and tea (cha) and enjoying the bright brilliant moon.

Cozy Fall Recipes


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Hot and Sour Soup /

Suan La Tang (酸辣汤) Hot and Sour Soup

By HWC Magazine  , , , , , ,   

September 25, 2017

Hot and sour soup has many different exciting flavor combinations; sour from the vinegar, savory from the broth and hot and spicy from the white pepper.

  • Prep: 30 mins
  • Cook: 30 mins
  • Yields: 4 Adults


dried mushrooms - 6 dried shiitake or other dried mushrooms of choice, such as wood ear (available at asian food stores or use fresh mushroom substitute)

ground pork - 1/4 pound

soy sauce - 2 tablespoon (tamari sauce for gluten free) (1 tablespoon for pork marinade and 1 tablespoon for soup base)

white pepper ground - 1/8 th teaspoon (really needs to be "ground white pepper" as this makes the dish)

onion powder - 1/2 teaspoon

cooking sherry or Shao xing wine - 1 teaspoon

cornstarch - 1 teaspoon

chicken broth (or vegetable broth) - 4 cups

bamboo shoots - 1/2 cup sliced in julienne threads (if you are in an Asian grocery store and like it spicy they have bamboo shoots in chili oil)

tofu (bean curd) firm - 1/2 pound (8 ounces) chopped into bite sized cubes or julienne slices whatever you prefer.

salt to taste

white pepper - 1/2 teaspoon or more for desired heat level

egg - 1 beaten

Chingkiang Black Chinese vinegar - 3 to 4 tablespoons or to taste

Cornstarch Slurry - 3 tablespoons cornstarch blended with 4 tablespoons water

sesame oil - 1 teaspoon or to taste

chili oil - optional as desired or just increase the amount of white pepper for added heat.

green onions - 2 sliced


1Rinse the dried mushrooms and then soak the mushrooms in hot water for at least 30 minutes or until soft. (Reserve the mushroom water from the soak as it is delicious in the soup.)

2Mix pork with the next five ingredients (soy sauce, white pepper, onion powder, sherry wine (shao xing wine) and cornstarch) and set aside.

3Cut mushrooms into thin slices and prepare and chop the rest of your items.

4Place the chicken broth and the reserved mushroom broth from reconstituting the dry mushroom in a deep sauce pan or wok; cover and bring to boil.

5Add marinated pork, sliced reconstituted dry mushrooms and bamboo shoots; bring to boil.

6Add tofu (bean curd ); bring to a boil.

7Stir in 3 Tablespoons Chinkiang black vinegar and blended cornstarch; cook until sauce thickens.

8Reduce to low heat and stir in beaten egg, 1 teaspoon sesame oil, and 1/2 teaspoon white pepper. Adjust to the addition of white pepper to your level of heat. Feel free to add a little drizzle of chili oil if you like. (optional)

9Pour into tureen; sprinkle with the minced green onion on the soup and serve hot. Delicious with a side of cooked jasmine white rice.

  • Anonymous

    Had 2 liters and it was the best ever….. More of a Sichuan vibe than Shanghai…

  • With the Autumn coming in quickly now it’s all about soups and stews again, which makes a nice change. My partner would love this soup he is a pork fan. I’d need to make it Vegetarian for me, but then it would be perfect.

    • Thank you Emma, making Hot and Sour Soup (suan la tang ) vegan is super easy to do. Hold the ground pork and exchange chicken broth with vegetable broth and you are good to go. Wishing you a super week!

  • Boy, this version looks absolutely perfect! It’s a favorite of ours and now I’m craving big time!

    • Thank you Monica. Perfect during the weather changes. Happy Belated Mid-Autumn Festival!

  • Karen (Back Road Journal)

    I always start a meal with hot and sour soup when we eat in a Chinese restaurant but I’ve never tried making it myself. Thanks so much for the recipe.

    • Hello Karen! Thanks so much for stopping by. We hope you try this recipe. Super easy less than 30 minutes and a very traditional. Take Care

  • [email protected] is How I Cook

    This is very similar to how I make my hot and sour soup. I totally love the stuff and now that I actually own the right vinegar, it will be interesting to see how it tastes versus the red wine vinegar that I used to use! We had our first snow so it is the season!

    • HWC Magazine

      Abbe the Chinkiang vinegar really makes this dish. You can make it with other vinegars but it will not have the traditional flavor. Great cooler weather change of season soup. Take Care

  • I love the Chinese black vinegar. I discovered it a while back and it just has the most awesome flavor! We actually have a market down the street that I can get wood ear fungus at (not sure about the day lily – I’ve never looked). Hot and sour soup is such a comforting winter soup!

    • HWC Magazine

      So glad to hear that you have an Asian market near you. Day lily is not required, we feel to bring the flavors on boards. Just omit if you cannot find it at the market.

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