Of all the foods I crave, hot and sour soup is most commonly out of reach. Ubiquitous across Chinese restaurant menus big and small, often given away for free with a lunch combo, it’s a cruel joke that there’s no soup for me.
Traditionally a Sichuan staple, standard recipes include all the usual non-vegan pitfalls: chicken broth, beaten eggs, and sometimes thinly sliced pork. In rare instances, you may luck out and find a vegetarian option without meat, but completely vegan versions are true unicorns.
Hot and sour soup is a snap to make at home, but not without mild controversy. Truth be told, I’ve been making some version of this recipe for years on the down-low. It’s one of those everyday staples that doesn’t feel special enough to share in the spotlight, and moreover, it would undoubtedly raise the ire of culinary perfectionists for all its obvious flaws.
Authenticity be damned; no one should gatekeep good food. When I’m too tired or busy to travel to the Asian specialty store for the conventional ingredients, when I’m just trying to scrape together pantry staples to feed myself, or when I’ve simply run out of fucks to give, this is the soup I turn to.
How To Make Hot And Sour Soup More “Authentic”
- Use bamboo shoots instead of shredded carrots
- Swap the balsamic vinegar for black vinegar
- Replace the shiitake mushrooms with wood ear mushrooms
- Add dried lily buds
How To Make Hot And Sour Soup Less “Authentic” But More Accessible
- Use vegetable stock instead of vegan chicken broth
- Omit the plant-based egg component
- Add green peas, diced tomatoes, or corn kernels
- Finish with sriracha or chili oil, to taste
If you find this recipe offensive, categorically distasteful, or personally upsetting, guess what? It’s not meant for you. For everyone else trying to get a hot and sour fix with limited means: Welcome. Grab a bowl and a spoon, there’s plenty to go around.