I didn’t take my first sip of hot & sour soup until 2016, after Kim & I returned from Australia and were craving Chinese food. I ordered what I was used to – General Tso’s Tofu – but Kim ordered Hot & Sour Soup. What in the world? Not getting a fried protein tossed in a sweet sauce? I was perplexed.
Upon lifting the spoon to my lips though, I understood why this is a soup worth ordering on its own. Its flavors are bold yet deep at the same time. First, you get hit with a punch of saltiness from soy sauce, followed by a kick of sour from vinegar. Then, after you’ve gulped it down, flavors stay lingering in your mouth – transforming – making you want more so you can try to understand it. With the correct combination of a few simple ingredients, this soup becomes far more complex than its individual components. Magic? Nah, just the culinary arts.
The first word in the name of this soup – “hot” – is one culinary accent that I feel lacks in most restaurants’ soups – probably because they don’t want to burn the face off of their customers! Because I’m my own chef, however, I take personal responsibility in burning my face off, which means there’s no one to sue if my soup is too spicy.
Jokes aside, Hot & Sour Soup is meant to be spicy, as the “hot” refers to its spiciness, not its temperature. If you’re not acclimated to spice, then start out with a low amount of chili paste and add more as your heart desires. Kim & I did the opposite by adding far too much chili paste, thus making this the spiciest thing I’ve ever ate. Not that that prevented me from slurping down every last drop – I’m a bit of a heat enthusiast.
If you’ve never had Hot & Sour Soup, you can expect this one to have a tangy & salty, lightly thickened broth laced with chewy shiitake mushrooms and crunchy black fungus. Unlike many soups, this one doesn’t take half a day to make; as I’ve said before, American-Chinese cuisine is designed to pump out takeout orders in less than 15 minutes, which makes most of their dishes easy on the watch.
We hope you enjoy our 1-pot, vegan & lectin-limited rendition of Hot & Sour Soup! If you like what your taste buds are tellin’ ya, leave behind a nice rating, share your thoughts with us in the comments, or show us your creations by tagging @noeggsorham on Instagram.
Go Forth & Devour,
Kim & Ryan
Vegan Shiitake Hot & Sour Soup (Plant Paradox-friendly, grain-free & sugar-free)
Vinegary & salty umami broth laced with chewy shiitake mushrooms and crunchy black fungus.
- 7 cups water
- 6 oz shiitake mushrooms, sliced about 1/4 in thick
- 3/4 oz dried black fungus*
- 2 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 1 1-in thumb of ginger, julienned
- 2 tsp toasted sesame oil
- 2 “not-chick’n” bouillon cubes*
- 1 tbsp tamari
- 1/4 c rice vinegar
- 3/4 tsp ground white pepper
- 1 tsp chili paste (plus more as desired)*
- 2 tbsp tapioca starch + 3 tbsp water
- optional: thinly sliced scallions for topping
- Place black fungus in a medium mixing bowl and cover with hot water. Let sit for 20-30 minutes. Prep other ingredients while fungus soaks.
- In a small air-tight container vigorously shake together tapioca and 3 tbsp of water. Set aside.
- Heat a large soup pot over high heat. One hot add in sesame oil, shiitakes and a large pinch of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until mushrooms are browned on a couple sides.
- Add in soaked fungus and all other – except for starch mixture and scallions – and bring to a boil.
- Drop heat to medium-low and simmer for 30 minutes. Then, add in starch mixture and bring to a boil over high heat.
- Once a boil is achieved, kill the heat. Serve fresh with fresh scallions! Leftovers will keep in an air-tight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. Re-heat in a pot over medium heat until hot.
*Black fungus may sound like a foreign ingredient, but it’s cheap and easy too find in most oriental markets.
*If you don’t have bouillon cubes, substitute the water for “not-chicken broth.” The flavor will be the same – the bouillon cubes are simply more economical.
*Kim & I used 1 tablespoon of chili paste, not 1 teaspoon, which made the soup fiery hot. So I suggest you start off with a teaspoon and add more as desired. Use linked chili paste if lectin-limited.