Spicy Szechuan Hot and Sour Soup Recipe

Looking for the the best homemade Szechuan Hot and Sour Soup recipe?

Our quick & easy Szechuan Hot and Sour Soup recipe, also known as Suan La Tang, is a perfect lunch or dinner idea for a cold Fall or Winter day.

This spicy Szechuan Soup features healthy ingredients like pork loin, mushrooms, bamboo shoots, carrot, ginger, tofu, egg, green onion and cilantro.

The eye-catching dish stands out thanks to the luscious egg “flower” ribbons that float through this thick and flavour soup.

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What Is Soup?

Soup is a liquid food, generally served warm or hot (but can also be served cold like gazpacho), that is prepared by combining meat or vegetables with stock or water.

Hot soups are additionally characterized by boiling solid ingredients in liquids in a pot until the flavours are extracted, creating a rich broth.

Soups are similar to stews, and in some cases there may not be a clear distinction between the two. Soups generally have more liquid (broth) than chunkier and heartier stews.

In traditional French cuisine, soups are classified into two groups: clear soups (bouillon and consomme) and thick soups (purees, bisques, veloutes).

Purées are vegetable soups thickened with starch; bisques are made from puréed shellfish or vegetables thickened with cream; cream soups may be thickened with béchamel sauce; and veloutés are thickened with eggs, butter, and cream.

Ingredients you'll need to make our homemade Szechuan Soup recipe.
Ingredients you’ll need to make our homemade Szechuan Soup recipe.

History of Soup

Evidence of the existence of soup can be found as far back as about 20,000 BC. Boiling was not a common cooking technique until the invention of waterproof containers, such as clay pots. To boil the water hot rocks were used.

The word soup comes from French soupe (broth), which comes through Vulgar Latin suppa (“bread soaked in broth”) from a Germanic source, from which also comes the word “sop”, a piece of bread used to soak up soup or a thick stew.

The word restaurant (meaning “restoring”) was first used in France in the 16th century, to refer to a highly concentrated, inexpensive soup, sold by street vendors, that was advertised as a cure to physical exhaustion. In 1765, a Parisian entrepreneur opened a shop specializing in such soups. This prompted the use of the modern word restaurant for eating establishments.

In America, the first colonial cookbook was published by William Parks in Williamsburg, Virginia, in 1742, based on Eliza Smith’s The Compleat Housewife; or Accomplished Gentlewoman’s Companion, and it included several recipes for soups and bisques.

English cooking dominated early colonial cooking; but as new immigrants arrived from other countries, other national soups gained popularity. In particular, German immigrants living in Pennsylvania were famous for their potato soups. In 1794, Jean Baptiste Gilbert Payplat dis Julien, a refugee from the French Revolution, opened an eating establishment in Massachusetts called The Restorator, and became known as the “Prince of Soups”.

Begin by soaking shiitake mushroom, lily flower and fungus in warm water.
Begin by soaking shiitake mushroom, lily flower and fungus in warm water.

Travel to China by Cooking Szechuan Soup at Home

I love traveling through Asia.

As a professional food and travel writer I’ve eaten my way through India, Maldives, Japan, Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Cambodia, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam and Laos.

My first visit to Asia had me living in South Korea for a year as an English teacher. That’s when I was first introduced to yummy fermented vegetables like kimchi.

In Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan, I’ve slurped through steaming bowls of traditional Szechuan Soup at restaurants and food markets.

Our authentic Szechuan Soup recipe is a spicy Chinese Hot and Sour Soup flavoured with Chinese Black Vinegar, white peppercorns, chicken stock, soy sauce, black bean sauce and sesame oil.

Chinese culinary historians claim Szechuan Soup was invented by the poor peasant class. You’ll find different regional Szechuan Hot and Sour Soup recipe’s throughout China.

In the Sichuan area, hot and sour soup is called as Suan La Tang which is usually prepared with chicken and pork stock. In the Northern areas, locals call the dish Hu La Tang and is typically made with beef or lamb stock.

After enjoying your first few sips, you’ll realize why a steaming bowl of Szechuan Hot and Sour Soup is a must-try when visiting East Asia.

Our Szechuan Soup recipe is flavoured with soy sauce, chili bean sauce and Chinese vinegar.
Our Szechuan Soup recipe is flavoured with soy sauce, chili bean sauce and Chinese vinegar.

Where To Eat Authentic Szechuan Hot and Sour Soup

If you live in a large city in Canada or America you’ll likely have access to a local Chinese restaurant that serves their own Szechuan Hot and Sour Soup recipe.

Haven’t traveled to Asia before? It may be helpful to first sample traditional Szechuan Soup at a local restaurant to better understand how it is served. You’ll get an idea for the ideal spice level, amount of vegetables to serve in each bowl and best garnish ideas.

You’ll also find inspiration on what to pair with Szechuan Soup including Chinese inspired dishes like Vegan Chinese Cucumber Salad, Crispy Ginger Beef, Mapo Tofu and Dandan Noodles.

In Toronto, popular Chinese restaurants the may serve Szechuan Hot and Sour Soup include Not Just NoodlesRol SanChop ChopSwatowHutaoliYueh Tung Hakka Restaurant and Crown Princess.

Traditional Szechuan Soup is thickened with cornstarch.
Traditional Szechuan Soup is thickened with cornstarch.

My Family Loves Szechuan Hot and Sour Soup

My family has a tradition of eating soup and salad for lunch on Sunday’s after getting home from church. Soup is such an simple and brainless meal to serve a busy family with kids.

My dad would often make cream of tomato soup and serve a bowl with grilled cheese sandwiches and pickles. Our family also loved slurping through bowls of Butternut Squash Soup, French Onion Soup and Chicken Noodle Soup.

Some of the fondest memories of my childhood spent in Toronto, Markham, Oakville and Muskoka are cozying up to a bowl of homemade soup with gourmet crackers, artisanal cheese and sourdough bread.

During October in Ontario we’d often visit popular Fall Fairs in Norfolk County, Niagara and Prince Edward County to go on fun rides, run through corn mazes and purchase fresh local fruits and vegetables at the peak of harvest season.

Mushrooms, ginger, carrot, cilantro and green onions are available in abundance year round in Canada but we especially love to serve this savoury soup during Thanksgiving and the chilly winter season.

The best Szechuan Soup is full of hearty ingredients. The simple and spicy Hot and Sour Soup is a great way to incorporate nutritious ingredients into your diet during the colder months of the year.

Garnish Szechuan Soup with sesame oil, scallions and cilantro.
Garnish Szechuan Soup with sesame oil, scallions and cilantro.

Szechuan Soup Health Benefits

Our Szechuan Hot and Sour Soup recipe is packed full of healthy ingredients!

Green Onions are a humble vegetable packed with vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals. Regular consumption of onions can help boost digestive health and reduce the risk of developing heart disease.

A good source of bone-strengthening vitamin K, cilantro is also rich in antioxidants that help protect the eyes from damage by free radicals. 

Ginger contains at least 14 phytochemricals, many of which have impressive antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. It also has a good source of copper, which supports your bones, blood and nervous system. 

A useful source of copper, calcium, manganese, and phosphorus, sesame helps support circulatory, digestive and skeletal health.

Mushrooms are rich in B vitamins: riboflavin, niacin, and pantothenic acid. The combination helps protect heart health.

Eggs contain two vital nutrients that are not present in many foods: iodine and vitamin D. Eggs are also rich in tissue-building protein and vitamin B12, which helps your body manufacture blood cells.

An excellent source of vitamin A and the phytochemical beta-carotene, carrots help keep your eyes and bones healthy, and may help protect against several types of cancer.

Chicken is high in protein and provides B vitamins such as niacin, which helps your body access the energy in foods.   

Tofu is a good source of protein and contains all nine essential amino acids. It is also a valuable plant source of iron and calcium and the minerals manganese and phosphorous.

Szechuan Soup is a spicy hot and sour soup perfect for a cold winter day.
Szechuan Soup is a spicy hot and sour soup perfect for a cold winter day.

Homemade Szechuan Hot and Sour Soup Recipe Tips

This healthy Szechuan Soup is quick and easy to make at home. We’ve included a few tips for first time soup makers!

  • Use a large cast iron dutch oven with a high rim to reduce splatter when cooking.
  • We suggest using a high quality rubber spatula spoon when making soup so you can easily stir, scrape down the side of the pot and sip to check if it needs to be seasoned further with more salt before spooning into bowls.
  • Visit a Chinese grocer to purchase dried shiitake and wood ear fungus. Use dried shiitake over fresh as the dehydration process concentrates the mushrooms flavour.
  • You can cook a vegetarian Szechuan Hot and Sour Soup recipe by omitting the pork loin and substituting chicken stock for vegetable both or mushroom stock.
  • If you’d like to make the recipe extra spicy, feel free to add additional white peppercorns or chili sauce. If you have a few hot peppers loitering in your fridge you can fry them quickly in sesame oil and add them to your soup for a fiery flavour.
  • If you don’t have Chinese Black Vinegar use Rice Wine Vinegar.
  • You can substitute medium tofu for soft or hard tofu depending on your preference.
  • Other authentic Szechuan Soup recipes might include ingredients like dried lily flower, dried red chili peppers or Shaoxing wine.
  • If you’re looking to enjoy Szechuan Noodle Soup simply add a handful of lamian soft wheat flour Chinese noodles.
Serve our Szechuan Soup recipe at a Chinese-themed dinner party for a crowd.
Serve our Szechuan Soup recipe at a Chinese-themed dinner party for a crowd.

What To Serve with Szechuan Soup

There’s nothing more comforting on a cold day then cozying up to a bowl of soup with a fresh salad, gourmet crackers, artisanal cheeses, sourdough bread, savoury muffins and homemade pickles.

If you’re hosting a large dinner party you might want to serve our easy Szechuan Soup as an appetizer before serving heartier mains.

We love serving this spicy Chinese soup with Chinese Wonton Egg Drop Soup, Chinese Ginger Garlic Soup, Cong You Bing Green Onion Cakes, Vegan Chinese Cucumber Salad and Sweet and Sour Pork Meatballs.

After dinner why not dazzle your guests with one of our popular desserts such as Oat Flour Cookies with Chocolate Chips, Dark Chocolate Lindt Lindor Cookies, Maraschino Cherry Cupcakes Recipe or Cinnamon Babka For Chocolate Lovers.

We love doubling our Szechuan Soup so we can enjoy leftovers for the rest of the week.
We love doubling our Szechuan Soup so we can enjoy leftovers for the rest of the week.

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Storing Szechuan Soup

If you have leftover Szechuan Soup you can store it in the fridge in an airtight container for up to a week. To reheat simply zap it in the microwave or simmer in a small saucepan on the stove.

We love doubling our soup recipes so can store leftovers in the freezer and save time on cooking in the kitchen. We suggest storing leftover soup in Pyrex freezer safe containers that have a snug lid so there’s not spilling. My mother often uses old glass pasta sauce jars to store soup in the freezer.

Be sure to let your soup reach room temperature before storing it in the freezer. If you add a hot jar of soup to a cold freezer it will significantly reduce the interior temperature and potentially spoil your food.

If you find the Szechuan Soup to have an overly strong flavour water it down by adding more chicken stock.
If you find the Szechuan Soup to have an overly strong flavour water it down by adding more chicken stock.

How To Make Szechuan Hot and Sour Soup

Print Recipe
5 from 2 votes

Szechuan Hot and Sour Soup

Cook the best homemade Szechuan Soup. Our healthy Szechuan Hot and Sour Soup recipe is spicy & features pork, mushrooms, ginger and tofu.
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time15 mins
Total Time30 mins
Course: Soup
Cuisine: Chinese
Keyword: Hot and Sour Soup, Szechuan Hot and Sour Soup, Szechuan Soup
Servings: 4
Calories: 175kcal

Equipment

  • Dutch Oven or Large Pot
  • Spatula or Wooden Spoon
  • measuring cups
  • measuring spoons
  • French knife
  • whisk

Ingredients

  • 3 Dried Shiitake Mushrooms soaked in water
  • 1/4 cup Dried Wood Ear Fungus soaked in water
  • 1 tbsp Dried Lily Flower
  • 1/4 cup Bamboo Shoots finely sliced
  • 1/4 cup Shredded carrot
  • 1 inch Fresh ginger minced
  • 2 tbsp Light Soy Sauce
  • 2 tsp Ground White Peppercorns
  • 5 cups Chicken Stock
  • 1 tsp Dark Soy Sauce
  • 1 tbsp Toban Djan Chili Bean Sauce
  • 1/2 tbsp White sugar
  • 100 g Medium Tofu finely sliced
  • 100 g Pork loin finely sliced
  • 3 tbsp Chinese Black Vinegar or Rice Wine Vinegar
  • 1 Large egg beaten
  • 3 tbsp Cornstarch
  • Sesame oil, green onion, cilantro garnish

Instructions

  • Over medium heat in a wok or large skillet add carrots, bamboo shoots, wood ear fungus, shiitake mushroom, dried lily flower and minced ginger.
  • Add chicken stock, bring to boil and then simmer for 15 minutes.
  • Add light soy sauce, dark soy sauce, bean sauce, white sugar, and salt to taste. Continue cooking for 2-3 minutes.
  • Add finely sliced tofu to the pot. Then add pork slices and gently stir until the soup beings to boil again.
  • Stir the cornstarch slurry (3 T cornstarch with 3 T water) and then add to the soup. Heat until thickened.
  • Keep the soup simmering so it is still bubbling before you add the beaten egg. If not, the soup will turn cloudy when the egg is added. Begin stirring in a circular motion with your soup ladle. Once you get the soup moving in a swirling motion, slowly drizzle the beaten egg into the soup.
  • Add black vinegar and white ground pepper then turn off the heat and remove pot from the stove.
  • Garnish Szechuan Hot and Sour Soup with chopped green onion, cilantro and drizzle of sesame oil.

Nutrition

Calories: 175kcal | Carbohydrates: 28.3g | Protein: 10g | Fat: 4.7g | Saturated Fat: 1.3g | Cholesterol: 51mg | Sodium: 2361mg | Potassium: 306mg | Fiber: 2.4g | Sugar: 8.9g | Calcium: 63mg | Iron: 4mg

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