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5 from 3 votes

Vegetarian Hot and Sour Soup (素酸辣汤)

The prep time does not include rehydrating the dry ingredients. If you want to reduce prepping time, you can skip the dry ingredients altogether.
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time10 mins
Total Time25 mins
Course: Main
Cuisine: Chinese
Keyword: Hot and Sour Soup
Servings: 4
Author: Maggie Zhu




  • 2 tablespoons Chinkiang vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon white pepper powder
  • 6 cups vegetable stock (*Footnote 2)
  • 1/2 block (8 oz / 226 g) firm tofu , cut to 1-cm (1/2-inch) cubes
  • 1 can (5 oz / 141 g) bamboo shoots (about 1 cup)
  • 1 tablespoon ginger , minced
  • 1 tablespoon light soy sauce (or soy sauce)
  • 1/2 tablespoon dark soy sauce (or soy sauce) (*Footnote 3)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups Napa cabbage , chopped
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 egg , beaten (*Footnote 4) (Optional)
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil , toasted
  • 1/2 cup cilantro , chopped



  • To rehydrate wood ear mushrooms, shiitake mushrooms and lily flowers, gently rinse each with tap water, drain and add to a bowl, then add hot water to cover at least 1-inch deep. Rehydrate for 30 minutes to 1 hour, until the ingredients have turned tender.
  • For wood ear mushrooms, remove tough ends if needed, and slice into stripes.
  • For shiitake mushrooms, reserve marinating water, gently squeeze water from the mushrooms, remove stems and thinly slice.
  • For lily flowers, reserve marinating water. Remove the tough ends of the lily flowers and slice to 5mm (2-inch) pieces if needed (*Footnote 5).


  • Add Chinkiang vinegar and white pepper into a small bowl, mix well until the white pepper is completely dissolved.
  • Prepare a medium-size pot, add 1 cup marinating water from the shiitake mushrooms, 1 cup marinating water from the lily flowers, and 4 cups vegetable stock into a pot. Cook over medium-high heat. Add rehydrated wood ear mushrooms, rehydrated lily flowers, rehydrated shiitake mushrooms, tofu, bamboo shoots, ginger, light soy sauce, dark soy sauce, and salt to the pot. When the soup starts to simmer, add Napa cabbage and turn to medium-low heat. Cook until the Napa cabbage turns tender, 5 to 8 minutes.
  • Whisk the cornstarch with 1/4 cup of water in a small bowl until cornstarch is fully dissolved. Slowly swirl the cornstarch slurry into the soup, and stir to thicken.
  • Slowly swirl in the beaten egg with a fork against the edge of the bowl, and gently stir a few times to break up the eggs.
  • Remove the pot from stove. Add the vinegar and pepper mixture and stir to mix well. (*Footnote 6) Carefully taste the soup. Add more salt if necessary. Garnish with cilantro and drizzle with sesame oil. Stir to mix well.
  • Serve hot as a side or as a light main.


  1. Dried wood ear mushrooms will expand more than 10 times in size after soaking, so a small amount goes a long way. They do not have so much flavor and are added here to build texture. You can skip this ingredient without affecting the taste of the soup.
  2. The vegetable stock includes the marinating water from the shiitake mushrooms and lily flowers. In reality you will only need 3 to 4 cups extra vegetable stock. If you do not use shiitake mushrooms or lily flowers, you will need 6 cups vegetable stock.
  3. The dark soy sauce will add a beautiful dark brown color to the soup. You can use light soy sauce or ordinary soy sauce as a substitute.
  4. Skip the eggs if you are making a vegan soup.
  5. Depending on how the lily flowers are harvested, they might have a very tough woody end on the side of the stem. You can feel it by pressing with your fingers. You need to remove it (either by using a knife or a pair of kitchen shears). Some lily flowers might be very long, so you can halve them across.
  6. It is very important to add the vinegar and white pepper at the end, because both ingredients lose their aroma if cooked for too long.