Hot and sour soup

Hot and sour soup

The Real Food of China
Leanne Kitchen

There are versions of this soup made throughout China and, like many soups there, it’s thought to possess healing properties. Wood ear and lily buds are believed to be good for circulation; vinegar (the ‘sour’ part) is thought to have antiseptic properties; and good chicken stock is, as we all know, nature’s penicillin. Sometimes slivers of pork are added, so feel welcome to do that (fillet would work well, added at the last minute), and the soup is often seasoned with extra pepper for added heat.


Quantity Ingredient
6 dried shiitake mushrooms
6 dried wood ear fungus
20 dried lily buds
250g firm tofu, cut into thick matchsticks
1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 litre Chicken stock
125g tinned bamboo shoots, drained and cut into thick matchsticks
2 cm piece ginger, peeled and finely chopped
2 tablespoons black rice vinegar
2 teaspoons Strained chilli oil, or to taste
2 tablespoons cornflour
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
3 spring onions, finely shredded, green part only
1 small handful coriander leaves


  1. Put the shiitake mushrooms and wood ear fungus in a heatproof bowl and the lily buds in another bowl. Cover each with boiling water and soak for 30 minutes, or until softened. Combine the tofu and soy sauce in a bowl, gently toss the tofu to coat, then set aside to marinate for 15 minutes. Combine the egg and sesame oil in a small bowl, mix well and set aside.
  2. Drain the mushrooms, reserving 250 ml of the soaking liquid. Finely slice the shiitakes. Remove any hard bits from the wood ears and tear or cut into small pieces. Drain the lily buds, discarding the water, and cut any hard tips off the lily buds.
  3. In a large saucepan, combine the stock, mushroom soaking liquid, shiitakes, wood ears, lily buds, marinated tofu, bamboo shoots, ginger, vinegar and chilli oil. Bring to the boil over a high heat, then reduce the heat to medium–low and simmer for 10 minutes.
  4. Combine the cornflour with 60 ml water in a small bowl and stir to form a smooth paste, then add to the soup and simmer for 1 minute, or until the soup thickens. Remove the pan from the heat. While stirring the soup continuously, slowly pour the egg mixture in a steady stream into the soup. Season to taste with sea salt and pepper. Divide the soup among large bowls, scatter over the spring onions and coriander and serve immediately.
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