This vegetarian hot and sour soup is a sensory delight, an adventurous journey into a realm of bold flavors. Its diverse ingredients, from crisp vegetables to exotic spices, transform each bite into an extraordinary experience. Don’t pass up the opportunity to treat your taste buds to this beloved Asian-inspired soup, now in a meatless version.
With the Chinese New Year just around the corner, I decided to feast with some Chinese recipes this week and this hot and sour soup was exactly what I needed! If you’re looking for more Asian-inspired vegetarian recipes, check these out:
- Chinese Eggplant with Garlic Sauce
- Asian Mushroom Soup
- Sticky Asian Garlic Tofu
- Vegan Pho | Asian Noodle Soup
The history and origin of the authentic hot and sour soup recipe
Hot and Sour Soup is a kind of food with a rich history and a complex origin. This soup is considered a true classic in Asian cuisine, and its story begins in China, thousands of years ago.
The exact origins of Hot and Sour Soup are still disputed, but most culinary researchers believe that this Asian soup originated in the southern regions of China, such as Sichuan Province or Hunan Province. However, Hot and Sour Soup quickly became popular throughout the country, and regional variants appeared depending on the availability of local ingredients.
This soup is known for its distinct balance of flavors – spicy and sour. The spicy flavor often comes from hot peppers, while the pleasant acidity comes from a variety of acidic ingredients, such as rice vinegar or lemon juice. The main ingredients include tofu, mushrooms, bamboo and rooted bamboo, but can vary according to preference and availability.
With the expansion of cultural and commercial contact in Asia, Hot and Sour Soup spread to other East Asian countries, such as Japan and Thailand, where it adapted to local ingredients and flavors. Today, Hot and Sour Soup is one of the most popular soups in Asian cuisine and is widely enjoyed throughout the world.
Finally, Hot and Sour Soup is not only a delicious recipe, but also a symbol of the cultural diversity and mutual culinary influences that have shaped Asian cuisine over the centuries. Regardless of its origin, this soup continues to be loved for its unique and complex taste, which delights the taste buds with every spoonful.
Ingredients for vegetarian hot and sour soup
- Asian Mushrooms: Asian mushrooms, such as shiitake mushrooms or wood ear mushrooms, add a wonderful texture and umami to your soup. Cut them thinly to allow even cooking and absorb the flavors from the soup.
- Rice Vinegar: Rice vinegar adds that slightly sour character and the subtle aroma of rice, which is the signature of this soup. You can adjust the amount of vinegar according to your personal preferences to get a perfect sourness balance.
- White Pepper: White pepper adds a bit of subtle spiciness and goes well with the flavors in your spicy clear soup. Add it at the end of cooking to keep its fresh aroma.
- Vegetable Stock: The vegetable stock forms the basis of the flavor and consistency of your soup. You can opt for a vegetable stock made at home or one bought from the store.
- Ginger: Freshly grated ginger adds a bit of heat and freshness to the soup. You can adjust the amount of ginger depending on how intense you want the flavors.
- Green Onion: Green onion, cut into thin slices, adds a touch of freshness and a slightly spicy taste to your soup.
- Tofu: Tofu provides protein and a soft but firm texture to your sweet and sour soup with tofu. Cut it into cubes and add it to the soup in the last minutes to avoid it disintegrating completely.
- Soy Sauce or Tamari: Soy sauce/tamari adds umami and the rich flavors of soy to your soup. You can adjust the amount to control the level of saltiness.
- Cornstarch: Cornstarch is used to thicken the soup and give it a denser consistency. It can be mixed with a little water before adding to avoid lumps.
- Textured Soy: Textured soy is an excellent choice to add a crunch and extra protein to your Chinese soup. You can rehydrate it before adding it or add it directly to the soup for a contrast of textures.
- Eggs: Optional – you can skip these for the vegan hot and sour soup version. Eggs, beaten and poured into hot soup, contribute to the formation of thin flakes, adding an interesting aspect and a light creaminess.
- Coriander Leaves: Fresh coriander leaves add freshness and a vibrant taste. You can sprinkle the leaves over the soup before serving.
- Sesame Oil: Sesame oil has a rich flavor and adds a bit of nutty flavor to your soup. You can add it at the time of serving for an aromatic note.
The key tip for this spicy vegetable soup is to carefully balance sour and spicy ingredients, such as rice vinegar and ginger, with umami and salty ones, such as soy sauce. You can customize this Asian soup to suit your taste preferences, but these key factors contribute to an authentic and delicious Hot and Sour Soup.
Vegetarian hot and sour soup recipe
Hot and Sour Soup
- ¾ cup mixed Asian mushrooms dehydrated
- 2 L 8 cups hot water
- 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 1 teaspoon white pepper
- 6 cups vegetable soup
- 2 teaspoons ginger minced
- 2 green onions chopped
- 220 g 8oz tofu, cut into cubes, lightly seasoned
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch
- 100 g 3,5oz textured soy, slices
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 eggs beaten (optional – skip for vegan version)
- 4 tablespoons coriander leaves
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- Rinse the dried mushrooms. Place them in a bowl and cover with hot water, allowing them to rehydrate for an hour. Once softened, remove the mushrooms from the water and slice them. Reserve 1 cup of the mushroom-soaking water.
- In a small bowl, combine vinegar and white pepper, then set it aside.
- In a large pot, add the vegetable broth, ginger, and green onion. Bring it to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to medium. Stir in the reserved mushroom-soaking water. Reduce the heat to low and add the rehydrated mushrooms, soy sauce, and tofu.
- In a separate small bowl, mix the starch with 4 tablespoons of water to create a slurry. Slowly pour the slurry into the soup while stirring to thicken it. Season with soy sauce and salt, then simmer on low heat for 10-15 minutes.
- If desired, slowly pour beaten eggs into the soup while stirring.
- Remove the pot from heat and stir in the vinegar and pepper mixture.
- Serve the hot and sour soup garnished with fresh cilantro sprigs and a drizzle of sesame oil. Enjoy!