A Vegetarian riff on Classic Chinese Hot and Sour Soup that tastes like you ordered take-out! Make sure to make a double batch and freeze some for later!
Today seems like a good day for soup. Vegetarian Hot and Sour Soup that is.
Now, I am going to spend the next five minutes professing my undying love for Hot & Sour Soup. This is serious comfort food folks; at least for me.
If you have been following my blog for a while, you may remember me waxing poetic about a certain Healthy Chinese Restaurant in Philadelphia’s Chinatown that I dearly miss and crave all the time.
Well, Charles Plaza makes the most unbelievable Vegetarian Hot & Sour Soup – EVER. That is a difficult task, my friends. Most Hot & Sour soup is pork-based, has MSG or some other questionable ingredient and isn’t made with the highest quality stuff. I have yet to find a delicious Hot & Sour Soup (outside of Charles that is) that is made with non-GMO tofu, no MSG, no Pork, is clean and full of flavor. Trust me, I have been looking. Oh, and by the way, why doesn’t Seattle have ANY good Chinese Food? What is up with that?
I got my hands on this cookbook and right there on page 55 is a recipe for Hot and Sour Soup. I have tried about eight recipes in the last year and none of them have been up to my standards, but this one – the photo is what got me. As soon as I saw the color and texture of Bee’s Hot & Sour Soup, I knew I had to make a Vegetarian version of it. Immediately.
The irony is that I based my 1 Point Chicken Wontons on one of Bee’s recipes so I should have known to look, but I didn’t until it fell into my lap. I guess it’s like that old saying; the teacher comes when the student is ready. 😉
There are a couple of specialty ingredients needed to make this soup, but once you get to your local Asian supermarket or order them online, the whole thing comes together in no time – maybe 15 minutes tops. This Vegetarian version is pretty freaking close to Charles and I can’t get enough of it!
- Dried Wood Ear Mushrooms are usually found at any Asian grocery store but most of the packages I found were treated with Sulfites. Not cool. I did a little research and found this company. After talking to a customer service rep and confirming that their mushrooms were sourced properly and not treated with anything I ordered a big bag for about $8. I will get many, many pots of soup from this bag and am really happy to have a great quality product on hand to make this soup over and over again!
- Mirin is Chinese Rice Wine (not Rice Vinegar!) There is only a teaspoon here and I am not sure it adds that much so we are not using it to marinate chicken or pork so you could probably sub Sherry Wine or one of the other substitutes listed in that article I linked to.
- When it comes to canned, sliced Bamboo Shoots, I usually stick with either Native Forest or Sun Luck. Neither has any sulfites or added preservatives and are easily found at the stores I shop at. Sun Luck is a bit less expensive and found at the regular grocery store here in addition to the natural food stores.
- Chinese Black Vinegar (also called Chinkiang) should be easy to find at any Asian grocery store. It was only a couple of dollars for a big bottle.
- A quick tip to save some time is to buy a bag of already shredded carrots. I prefer the crunch of the thin matchsticks but sometimes you just want to save time and you’ve gotta do what you’ve gotta do!
- Last note – I prefer my Hot & Sour soup on the thinner side but if you want a thicker soup, I suggest doubling the cornstarch and water ratio to 6 tablespoons cornstarch and 1/2 cup water.
Did you make this recipe? Please give it a star rating below!
Vegetarian Hot and Sour Soup
- 1 large or 1/4 cup dried wood ear mushroom soaked in 1 cup boiling water and sliced
- 6 ounces organic NON-GMO soft tofu, cut into strips
- 1 teaspoon Mirin
- 1/2 teaspoon cornstarch
- 4 cups Imagine "No-Chicken" broth
- 1 cup reserved mushroom soaking water
- 1 small carrot cut into thin matchsticks
- 4 ounces sliced bamboo shoots rinsed and cut into thin matchsticks
- 2 large eggs beaten
- 2 scallions greens only, cut into thin rounds
- 2 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon Chinese Black Vinegar Chinkiang
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch + 1/4 cup water
- 1 tablespoon red chili oil or more to taste
- 2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
Start by covering the dried wood ear mushroom with one cup of boiling water. Set aside to soak while you complete the rest of the prep work.
Slice tofu into thin strips and combine with Mirin and 1/2 teaspoon cornstarch.
Cut sliced bamboo shoots into thin matchsticks.
Trim whites off scallions and cut greens into thin rounds.
Combine soy sauce, black vinegar, rice vinegar, white pepper, salt, remaining cornstarch and water with red chili oil and toasted sesame oil.
Beat eggs and cut carrots into thin matchsticks. Pull dried mushroom out of soaking liquid (reserving liquid for soup) and thinly slice. Yes, it looks strange. It's good and adds so much to the soup.
Pour the broth and mushroom soaking liquid into a large saucepan or soup pot and bring to a boil.
Add tofu, mushrooms, carrot and bamboo shoots and continue cooking for 5 minutes.
Next, add in the seasonings (soy sauce, etc.). Stir to combine and turn off heat.
Gently pour the beaten eggs into soup in a circle pattern. Immediately stir two to three times with a pair of chopsticks, cover and let sit for two minutes.
Serve topped with chopped scallions and more Chili Oil to taste. Enjoy!
Did you make this recipe? Tag @EverydayMaven on Instagram with the hashtag #EveryDayMaven and please give a star rating below.
Adapted From: Hot and Sour Soup from Easy Chinese Recipes by Bee Yinn Low
thanks for this recipe, the first time i made it I ate the whole batch in a hot and sour soup frenzy! So authentic and tasty. Made a double batch today to share with many others, very good.
Hey Pete! You’re welcome and I am so glad you loved it. I consider eating the whole batch a major compliment 🙂
Great recipe! It tastes very authentic, and so easy, too. Thanks for sharing!
Thank you so much Larissa!!
I desperately miss Charles Plaza. Any chance you have any other recipes like his? I miss the house special wonton, the”ham” and greens, sesame chicken, and orange “chicken”. I can’t wait to try this recipe.
Ohhh, I loved the “ham” from the vegetarian menu. The only recipes I’ve posted that are inspired by dishes at Charles Plaza are Singapore Rice Noodles and Homemade Hot Chili Oil.
Having lived in and near Philadelphia my whole life, I ate at Charles’ many times, and Charles being the wonderful host he was, had our bowls of hot & sour on the table before we spoke a word. I was devastated to hear the restaurant had closed. Thank you, thank you so much for this recipe which is very close to the real deal, Charles’. The black vinegar is essential. Living in the suburbs now, I had some trouble finding it but finally found it at the Asian market next to SuTao vegan restaurant in Malvern.
Hi Donna! How sad right? I am still upset that Charles closed down. 🙁
So glad that you found the ingredients and that you also think the soup is close to the real deal!! One of our other favorites there was the Singapore Rice Noodles with Chicken – if you used to order that, you might also love this recipe for it I posted. 🙂 http://www.everydaymaven.com/2014/singapore-rice-noodles-with-chicken/
although it’s hotter these past few days than it has been all summer here in new jersey, i have been CRAVING hot & sour soup. also, i’ve been wanting to try my hand at doing some asian cooking, so this was the perfect opportunity for me to get started. with your printed recipe in hand, i excitedly went to an asian supermarket this morning then came home and made a pot right away.
my family just finished devouring the entire pot! this soup is absolutely delicious!! i have never had charles plaza hot & sour soup, but have had it at singapore and harmony – your recipe is pretty freakin’ close to perfect! bonus is, once you gather all the ingredients, it’s really easy to make!
thanks for sharing this – your recipe has become an instant “go to” here!
Thank you so much Cory! So glad you and your family loved it. I totally agree this looks a lot more intimidating than it actually is – comes together fast! 🙂
So, I finally made it back to Philly to not only try the Hot and Sour soup at Charles Plaza ( as you recommended). But my intentioned were even greater. My plans were to try 5 different vegetarian hot and sour soups by 5 different restaurants and do a comparison. SIngapore, Veggie Lovers, New Harmony, Kingdom vegetarian ( all of which I have eaten at before) and Charles Plaza,
Ive been planning this trip for awhile, mapping out all the restaurants etc… My wife thought I was crazy. While researching the restaurants, I found out that Kingdom vegetarian and singapore had closed. Sadly, I was down to 3 restaurants.
I told my wife how much you raved about Charles Plaza’s soup, so that was my first stop.
But with great sadness, and disappointment to me, there was a sign on the door, thanking all its customers for the past 20 years, announcing that Charles Plaza has closed. Yes, thats right, It has shut down as of May 4th of this year. I could not believe that I missed it by about 2 weeks.
We wound up eating at New Harmony, trying the soup , which was fair at best. Tomorrow I will go to veggie lovers and I found another ( Ho Sai Gai) which I will try as well.
Anyway, sorry to be the one to break the news, and even more sorry that I never had the pleasure of trying their soup.
Oh my gosh Larry!!! 🙁 I am so sad. I can not believe Charles closed. I wonder if he retired or just was done with the restaurant business. What a great loss. Thank you so much for telling me – I appreciate it. I hope the rest of your trip in Philly is good!
Love this!!! Very hard to find a clean, vegetarian hot and sour soup out here. Did about 4 substitutes because of availability and preference, but was still delicious. I will definitely make this again!
Awesome! So glad you like it 🙂