Hot and Sour Soup

One of cooking classes I taught recently was all about Asian flavors. I loved the sound of the original hot and sour soup recipe by Tyler Florence, so I ‘healthified’ it by using bar-b-que soy curls instead of pork. I also found an authentic Chinese cooking site for some additional tips, like using a fragrant Chinese black vinegar, and re-hydrated lily buds. If you enjoy experimenting with different flavors and textures, this is the soup for you! Once you have all the ingredients, cook time is minimal. The ‘hot’ comes from chili paste and white pepper, and the ‘sour’ comes from the vinegar.

Prep time: 30 minutes

Cook time: 20 minutes

Makes: 6-8 servings


  • 4 dried shiitake mushrooms (about 1 oz.) *
  • 2-3 cups soy curls**
  • 1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated, or 1 Tbls. ginger paste
  • 1 Tbls. red chile paste, such as sambal oelek
  • 1/2 cup canned bamboo shoots, sliced thin
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon ground white pepper
  • Pinch brown sugar
  • 2 quarts vegetable stock
  • 1/2 block firm tofu, drained, sliced into ½” squares
  • 3 Tbls. cornstarch mixed with 1/4 cup water
  • 3 chopped green onions and small bunch of cilantro leaves, for garnish

*If you use fresh mushrooms, omit step 1. If you’re not using soy curls, go straight to step 3.

**Optional use of soy curls. Soup is awesome without them, too!

Recipe Notes: If you want more authentic soup flavors, make your way to an Asian market and pick up Chinese black vinegar, adding an 1/8 cup just before serving. I included lily buds in this recipe, also found in the Asian market.


  1. Put mushrooms in a small bowl and cover with boiling water. Let stand for 30 minutes to reconstitute. Drain and rinse mushrooms, and cut off any hard stem parts.
  2. Soak the soy curls in 2 cups warm water for 10 minutes. The, drain and chop into smaller, bite-sized pieces. Pour your favorite bar-b-que sauce over them to cover all soy curls and mix well; set aside.
  3. Heat a large pot over medium-high flame. Add the ginger, chili paste, mushrooms, and bamboo shoots. Cook and stir for 1 minute.
  4. Add the bar-b-que soy curls and cook until they are heated through.
  5. Pour in the vegetable stock, bring soup to a boil, and simmer for 10 minutes. Add tofu pieces.
  6. Dissolve cornstarch in a small bowl with water and stir until smooth. Mix the slurry in the soup and continue to simmer until soup thickens.
  7. Combine the soy sauce, vinegar, pepper, and sugar in a small bowl, pour it into the pan and mix into vegetables. It will become really fragrant.
  8. Garnish the soup with chopped green onions and cilantro before serving.