Vegan hot and sour soup

Today I want to introduce to you another Sichuan staple food – hot and sour soup. Traditionally, hot and sour soup is made with bamboo shoots, shredded pork, tofu, wood ear and shiitake mushrooms. Cornstarch is used to thicken, and then the soup is seasoned with vinegar, chilli sauce or dried chilli and sesame oil.

This soup used to be one of my MUST-order dishes when getting a Chinese takeaway. However, sadly, vegetarian hot and sour soup (with egg) is not that common, even in London, and the vegan version is scarce. So, the easiest way is to enjoy this soup is to cook it at home.

The ingredients list may look quite long and scary, but you can get pretty much all the ingredients from local supermarkets and Chinese grocery stores.

K33Kitchen vegan hot sour soup

First, wash the dried wood ear and shiitake mushrooms, soak them in 200 ml hot water for at least 8 hours.

Since we use the soaked water as dashi for a more robust flavour, preparing this overnight is best.

K33Kitchen vegan hot sour soup

The next day, combine the bouillon powder and 800 ml of hot water in a large jug, stirring well. You can also replace this with the same amount of vegetable broth.

K33Kitchen vegan hot sour soup

Then take the soaked wood ear and shiitake mushrooms out from the water. I always squeeze the shiitake mushrooms to make sure to get all the flavour out.

Mix the mushroom liquid and vegetable stock together, stir well. (You may want to discard the last couple spoonfuls of mushroom liquid if it’s looking too cloudy).

K33Kitchen vegan hot sour soup

Mince a small piece of ginger (roughly about 1/4 teaspoon-sized) and 1 garlic clove, set aside.

K33Kitchen vegan hot sour soup

The authentic way to make the hot and sour soup is to pour 1-2 beaten eggs into the soup at the last moment to create a silken “egg ribbon”, but as this is a vegan version I use dried bean curd sticks as an egg replacement.

Dried bean curd sticks is a sheet made from soy milk, and it is widely used, fresh, fermented, or dried, in Chinese, Korean, and Japanese cuisine. You can easily find them in any Eastern Asian grocery shop around the world.

They normally come in a long “U” shape like the picture below.

K33Kitchen vegan hot sour soup

We only need 1/2 of the stick – break it in half and discard the top as it will be too chewy for the soup.

K33Kitchen vegan hot sour soup

Break the stick into small pieces by hand in a bowl.

K33Kitchen vegan hot sour soup

In a saucepan, add the garlic, ginger, broth and tofu stick pieces we prepared earlier. Cook on a high heat until it starts to boil.

After 2-3 minutes, the tofu pieces should turn soft and white. If there are any big pieces, you can cut them smaller with scissors.

Cover the lid, reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer for 15-20 minutes until the tofu is very soft or starts to break down.

K33Kitchen vegan hot sour soup

Meanwhile, let’s prepare the veggies.

Take the spring onion, trim off the root end and remove the dirty outer layers. Cut it into two parts – the white root and the green leaves. Thinly slice and place them in different containers.

K33Kitchen vegan mapo tofu

Cut the tofu into 1 cm pieces, trim off the stems of the shiitake mushrooms, and thinly slice them with the rest of the vegetables.

K33Kitchen vegan hot sour soup

Once the tofu stick pieces are completely soft, add all the sliced vegetables, mushrooms, silken tofu, and the white part of spring onion.

Season the soup with chilli bean sauce, white vinegar, sugar, light and dark soy sauce. Close the lid and simmer for another 5 minutes.

K33Kitchen vegan hot sour soup

Chilli bean sauce (Toban Djan) is a spicy sauce made from fermented broad beans and chilli. It’s widely used in Chinese cooking, especially Sichuan cuisine. You can find it easily in any Chinese or Eastern Asia supermarket. In the UK, you can also often find it from large supermarkets like Tesco or Sainsbury’s.

Most ready-made chilli bean sauces use a small amount of wheat, so even though this dish looks fairly innocent; it’s NOT gluten-free. For a gluten-free version, replace the chilli bean sauce with gluten-free chilli oil. You can also check out my other latest chilli bean sauce recipe mapo tofu here.

K33Kitchen vegan hot sour soup

Mix together the cornstarch and 3 tablespoons of water in a small bowl.

Give the soup a final taste, add extra salt if needed.

Gradually pour the cornstarch mixture into the soup, continuing to stir. The soup will slowly start to thicken.

K33Kitchen vegan hot sour soup

Serve the soup warm with a dash of sesame oil and sprinkle the green spring onion and coriander on top.

K33Kitchen vegan hot sour soup

I wonder if anyone really gets satisfied with a 250 ml bowl of soup, even as a starter? Please leave a comment and let me know what your portion size of soup is.

K33Kitchen vegan hot sour soup

I love spicy food so much. This soup combines spicy, sour, umami and salty flavours all in one. It stimulates the appetite and is perfect to pair with crispy gyoza.

Let me know if you try out this recipe. You can leave a comment below, or take a picture and tag it with #k33_kitchen and share it on Instagram! I’d love to see what you come up with. Cheers, hope you enjoy my recipes!

K33Kitchen vegan hot sour soup
K33Kitchen vegan hot sour soup

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Difficulty: Intermediate

Serves: 2-4

Prep.: 5 mins | Cook: 25 mins

Ingredients:

Soup

  • 40g carrot, julienned
  • 40g bamboo shoot, thinly sliced
  • 80g silken tofu, cut into 1cm cubes
  • 10g dried shiitake mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 3g dried wood ear mushroom, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 dried bean curd sticks, broken into small pieces *
  • 1/2 spring onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 tsp ginger, minced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1-2 tbsp chilli bean sauce or chilli oil **
  • 1 1/2 tbsp white vinegar
  • 2 tbsp light soy sauce ***
  • 1 tbsp dark soy sauce ***
  • 1/4 tsp sugar
  • 2 tsp bouillon powder
  • Salt or to taste
  • Dash of sesame oil
  • Pinch of white pepper
  • Few coriander leave, roughly chopped (optional)

Thickener

  • 2 tbsp cornstarch
  • 3 tbsp water
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Instructions:
  1. In a saucepan, add the garlic, ginger, broth and tofu stick pieces we prepared earlier. Cook on a high heat until it starts to boil.
  2. After 2-3 minutes, the tofu pieces should turn soft and white. If there are any big pieces, you can cut them smaller with scissors.
  3. Cover the lid, reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer for 15-20 minutes until the tofu is very soft or starts to break down.
  4. Once the tofu stick pieces are completely soft, add all the sliced vegetables, mushrooms, silken tofu, and the white part of spring onion.
  5. Season the soup with chilli bean sauce, white vinegar, sugar, light and dark soy sauce. Close the lid and simmer for another 5 minutes.
  6. Mix together the cornstarch and 3 tablespoons of water in a small bowl.
  7. Give the soup a final taste, add any extra salt if needed.
  8. Gradually pour the cornstarch mixture into the soup, continuing to stir. The soup will slowly start to thicken.
  9. Serve the soup warm with a dash of sesame oil and sprinkle the green spring onion and coriander on top.

* Dried bean curd sticks is a sheet made from soy milk and it is widely used, fresh, fermented, or dried, in Chinese, Korean, and Japanese cuisine. You can easily find them in any Eastern Asian grocery shop around the world.

** Most ready-made chilli bean sauces use a small amount of wheat, so even through this dish looks fairly innocent; it’s NOT gluten-free. For a gluten-free version, replace the chilli bean sauce with gluten-free chilli oil.

*** Regular soy sauce is made with fermented wheat. Use gluten-free soy sauce if you are gluten intolerant.

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