Chef John's Hot and Sour Soup


  • ¾ ounce dried shiitake mushrooms
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce, or more to taste
  • ¼ cup seasoned rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon ground white pepper, or to taste
  • ¼ teaspoon sesame oil
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch, or as needed
  • 3 tablespoons water, or as needed
  • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger root
  • ¼ cup sliced green onions
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • ¼ cup grated carrot
  • 2 tablespoons thinly sliced red bell pepper
  • ½ cup bamboo shoots
  • 1 cup cubed tofu
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • Directions

  • Step 1

    Soak dried shiitake mushrooms in hot water, stirring occasionally, until soft, 15 to 20 minutes. Drain well and slice into thin strips.


  • Step 2

    Whisk soy sauce, vinegar, ground white pepper, and sesame oil together in a small bowl for hot and sour mixture; set aside until needed.

  • Step 3

    Whisk cornstarch and water together in another small bowl for slurry; set aside until needed.

  • Step 4

    Heat vegetable oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add ginger, sliced green onions, and shiitake mushrooms. Cook, stirring, for about 2 minutes. Pour in chicken broth and bring up to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for 5 minutes.

  • Step 5

    Stir in carrot, red pepper, bamboo shoots, tofu, and the hot and sour mixture. Let simmer for 5 minutes.

  • Step 6

    Raise heat to medium-high and bring to a boil. Stir the soup slowly with a spoon while transferring in the beaten eggs in a steady stream to create thin ribbons. Keep stirring until the soup comes back to a boil. Reduce heat to medium.

  • Step 7

    Stir the cornstarch slurry to make sure it’s well blended, then slowly drizzle it into the soup while stirring constantly. Soup should thicken up within 1 to 2 minutes. Turn off heat, taste for seasoning, and serve.

  • Chef's Notes:

    You can definitely use fresh shiitake mushrooms instead of dried, but dried will give the soup a better flavor. Cold water also works to soften the dried mushrooms, it just takes longer. The amount listed for mushrooms (3/4 ounce) should be about 6 mushrooms.

    Use soft tofu for this. Use Chinese black vinegar instead of seasoned rice vinegar if you can find it. You can use a hot red pepper instead of a sweet one.

    This will work with a black pepper or cayenne instead of white pepper, but it’s just not going to have the same flavor.

    Feel free to customize this–add any other thinly sliced vegetables you like when you add the tofu and other veggies.

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