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Suan La Tang, or Chinese Hot and Sour Soup Recipe

Traditional Chinese Hot and Sour Soup offers deep, rich flavors.  Indeed, our version of the authentic Suan La Tang features the original flavors using plant-based ingredients.

When you plan your next Chinese dinner, remember to include our Chinese Hot and Sour Soup Recipe. However, plan ahead. Your local grocery probably won’t sell a few of the necessary ingredients. However, these ingredients ensure the authenticity of your soup. In fact, without these, your soup may lack the necessary flavors and textures. To help, we include online links to them to help you create a true Chinese Hot and Sour Soup, right in your own kitchen.

Therefore, we include online links to them to help you create a true Chinese Hot and Sour Soup, right in your own kitchen.

Please Note: This recipe uses many ingredients and requires some prep time. However, you may save time by doing much of the preparations ahead of time. In fact, advance preparations ensure an easier assembly of the soup.?




Chinese Hot and Sour Soup, vegan style



In addition to the links provided here, we include them on our Products We Love page.




Meat Substitute Suggestions:

  • Use our recipe for Seiten (gluten).  First, season before boiling with a mixture of chicken and beef flavors for a pork-like flavor.
  • For a quick alternative, use a product such as Gardein Porkless bites. (without the sauce)
  • Firm Tofu works well, too. First, freeze and defrost the tofu.  Then, press out the liquid. Finally, season and cut or shred.
  • Try using shredded Jackfruit. This humble plant-based food makes a great shredded meat substitute.
  • Also, large mushrooms provide a similar texture and therefore substitute well. In fact, some prefer Portobello or large Cremini mushrooms in place of the meat.




  1. Stir cornstarch into water until completely dissolved.
  2. Cut the dried chili peppers in half and discard the seeds. Mince the peppers and set aside. (Keep the seeds if you want to increase the broth’s spiciness.)
  3. Slice the meat substitute into small strips. Place into a bowl with a teaspoon of corn starch liquid.  Stir it all together.
  4. Soak the dried lily flower, wood ears, and mushrooms for an hour or two until hydrated.  After soaking, slice the mushrooms and roughly chop the wood ears. Trim the tough ends off the lily flowers and cut them in half.
  5. Cut the spiced tofu and the firm tofu into 2 inch long and ¼ inch thick pieces.
  6. Slice the winter bamboo shoots into the same shape.
  7. Wash and chop the scallion and set aside.
  8. Whip the silken tofu to a pudding-like consistency.
  9. Now the assembly and cooking:
    1. Bring the stock to a boil in a wok or pot and add the meat substitute. Stir to ensure the slices are not clumped together. Skim off any foam that floats to the top.
  10. Add the chili pepper, white pepper, and both soy sauces, and check the soup for salt. Add the lily flowers, wood ears, mushrooms and bamboo shoots, and bring the soup to a simmer. Add both kinds of tofu, sesame oil, vinegar, and a pinch of date sugar and stir until the broth thickens.
  11. Bring the mixture to a simmer. Use a soup ladle to stir the soup at the center of the wok in a steady circular motion to make a whirlpool while slowly pouring the cornstarch slurry in a thin stream. This prevents the cornstarch from clumping. Stop when you are about ¾ of the way done with your slurry to check the consistency of the soup. It should be thick enough to coat your spoon or ladle. Add the rest if needed.
  12. Keep the soup simmering and use the same technique with the silken tofu and again, make sure the motion is fast enough or you will end up with clumps instead of the beautiful swirls or  “flowers”, as the Chinese call it.
  13. Garnish with the chopped scallions and serve.



chinese hot and sour soup
chinese hot and sour soup

Why Go To All This Effort?

Certainly, Chinese take-out restaurants abound in most areas. So why go to all this effort to create authentic Chinese food when you can purchase it cheaply and nearby?

Chinese take-out restaurants do offer variety at reasonable prices. In fact, few dishes will be cheaper prepared at home. However, American Chinese take-out rarely comes close to the authentic version. Like so many other ethnic foods, Chinese foods are usually quite “Americanized” to please the American palette.

Owners and chefs know that Americans love their salt, sugar, and fats. Indeed, most restaurant foods contain excess amounts of all 3. Further, many use less expensive ingredients to keep their costs lower. Therefore, creating your own traditional food at home ensure a truly authentic Chinese Hot and Sour Soup.

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