Hot and Sour Soup

Hot and Sour SoupHot and sour soup, with its bracing spicy and sour flavor, tastes intuitively like food that will give your immune system a boost. At the very least, it’ll warm your belly and provide a satisfying meal, and with this recipe, no take-out menu is needed.

You can choose to seek out authentic ingredients (like lily buds and cloud ear fungus) or simply go with dried shiitake mushrooms. Likewise, ingredients like soy sauce, sugar and red rice vinegar can be replaced with coconut aminos and plain rice vinegar. This recipe also nixes tofu and cornstarch, resulting in a soup that isn’t traditional but delicious nonetheless.

Once you get cooking, hot and sour soup comes together with surprising ease. Before you know it, you’re slurping up broth that tastes like it should’ve taken hours to make. Fortified with egg and strips of pork loin, hot and sour soup is as filling as it is comforting.

Servings: 4 to 6

Time in the Kitchen: 45 minutes



  • 1/2 pound pork tenderloin (230 g)
  • 4 tablespoons coconut aminos, divided (60 ml)
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) plus 1 teaspoon (5 ml) sesame oil, divided
  • 2 tablespoons (15 ml) dried fungus* (cloud ear or wood ear) or 6 dried shiitake mushrooms
  • 1/4 cup lily buds* (a small handful)
  • 7 cups chicken stock (1.65 L)
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped ginger root (20 g)
  • 2 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar (30 ml)
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon white pepper (2.5 ml)
  • 2 eggs, whisked
  • 1 green onion, chopped
  • Hot chili oil or Sriracha sauce (optional)

*Lily buds (also called golden needles) and dried wood ear or cloud ear fungus give the soup a mysteriously earthy, umami flavor. Both can be sourced from Asian markets or online stores.


Slice the pork into very thin strips 1 to 2 inches long. Marinate at room temperature for 20 minutes in 2 tablespoons coconut aminos and 1 tablespoon sesame oil.

Step 1

While the pork is marinating, soak the mushrooms and lily buds in separate bowls of warm water for 20 minutes to hydrate. Drain. Cut the mushrooms into thin strips. Cut off the tips of the lily buds, which tend to be chewy.


In a large pot, bring the chicken stock to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms, lily buds, pork and ginger. Bring the stock back up to a boil and stir in the remaining 2 tablespoons of coconut aminos, 1 teaspoon of sesame oil, the vinegar and white pepper.

Step 2

Turn the soup down to a gentle simmer. Slowly pour in the whisked eggs while stirring the broth.

Step 3

Add the green onion and if desired, chile oil or hot sauce to taste. You can also adjust the flavor by adding more vinegar for a more pronounced sour flavor.

Primal Hot and Sour Soup

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16 thoughts on “Hot and Sour Soup”

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  1. That looks much better than the hot & sour soup at our local Chinese buffet! Theirs is made with tofu. On that note, why don’t buffets offer more of the real foods? People would eat less of it, don’t you think?

    1. Tofu really is one of the traditional ingredients, & honestly I love it in this dish, but it certainly isn’t necessary to make a delicious soup.

  2. I’m not a mushroom fan and the lilybuds are not available in central WA, but the rest sounds good…looks easy too….thanks for another Primal meal.

  3. Looks good but I don’t know about the coconut aminos. Do they taste very coconutty? I don’t like my food to taste of coconut and therefore don’t use coconut products to cook with. Also, I realize it isn’t primal or Paleo, but I do like the little silky cubes of tofu in Asian soups. Tofu doesn’t bother me when eaten occasionally in such small amounts so I don’t go out of my way to avoid it.

    1. Coconut aminos do not taste like coconut – it tastes somewhat like watered down soy sauce and it’s not nearly as salty as soy sauce. The brand I buy is Coconut Secret Raw Coconut Aminos and has 113mg of sodium per serving (which is 1 tsp).

  4. YUM! Definitely going to be making this sooner rather than later! Hopefully my iteration looks as good as the picture here 🙂

  5. I can’t tell you how delighted I am to see this post. For YEARS I have recommended hot & sour soup to everyone I knew who came down with a cold! I’m fully convinced of its healing powers, & whenever a family member is ailing this is my first response. I use San-J wheat-free soy sauce rather than coconut aminos, but I confess I love salt, never moreso than when I have a sore throat. And though I react pretty badly to soy flour, neither tofu nor soy sauce has ever been an issue for me.

    1. yes, hot & sour soup is our equivalent of “chicken soup” for a cold/flu.

      can also add carrot threads (for color & flavor), some stringy mushroom (not sure what the name is) but it’s white, thin & long with a small cap)

      i use gluten free non-GMO fermented soy source. coconut amino does not taste authentic to me


    2. ps.

      also can add blood (gelled & threaded)

      but i suppose that would freak out most people

      yes, tofu is also a traditional ingredients. but i skip it in my version.

  6. If you have day lilies in your yard, you can dry the wilted flowers to make your own golden needles!

  7. I am getting ready to make the hot and sour soup, but am inexperienced when cooking soup with pork tenderloin in it. I don’t see a long amount of cooking time for the pork; can someone explain that to me? So, just dropping the pieces in boiling chicken stock will cook it enough?

  8. Coagulated duck’s blood is included to make this completely authentic. It is difficult to obtain. 🙂 And yes, tofu is a traditional ingredient, but the flavor/mouth feel profile is not affected by leaving it out. The recipe I use also includes schezuan preserved vegetable.

    If you use bone in pork chops for this instead of pork tenderloin, cut the bones from the meat and boil them in the broth for about 15-20 minutes to add another layer of flavor to the soup.

    I have been making this soup for years and it is a go to for me for lunch. When serving others (and yourself), put out more hot chili oil and vinegar so everyone can make it up to their particular taste.

    BTW, golden needles, cloud ears and schezuan preserved vegetable are all available on line and keep indefinitely in the pantry. So does chili oil, though you can make it yourself easily enough.

  9. Suffering from a heavy duty cold recently inspired me to make this. I skipped the pork but added an extra egg. Upped the vinegar, aminos, ginger and added a lot of red pepper flakes. Also threw in 8 oz of mixed wild mushrooms. It was hot, comforting, spicy and just what I needed to fight this nasty virus. Thank you for a healthy and delicious recipe that is better than the “real deal” and super easy to make.