Hot and Sour Soup-Suan La Tang

Hot and sour soup (Suan La Tang)is a common dish popular in  China especially in cold winter. Although there is a saying that hot and sour soup belongs to either to Sichuan cuisine or Hunan cuisine. I eat this hot and sour soup mostly in the years of living in the city of Xi’an and it surely can be found all around the country.

Personally hot and sour soup can be vegetarian or with meat. If you are eat meat, use stock and add some chicken meat, ham sausage  or seafood in this recipe.

Hot and sour soup|ChinaSichuanFood

Hot and sour soup|ChinaSichuanFood

There are several tips for making perfect hot and sour soup at home.

We had better use fresh grounded black pepper powder. And stock is highly recommended no matter bone stock or chicken stock.
Vinegar and pepper powder should be added after the fire is turned off because the vinegar might be volatilized by long time of cooking and thus reduce the taste.
There are several essential ingredients for hot and sour soup: tofu, shitake mushroom, wood ear mushrooms, egg, spring onions and carrots or chili peppers. You see we get five colors for this yummy and warm soup. Besides you can add other ingredients if you like for example green beans, meat or fish.
For shitake mushroom, either dried mushroom or fresh mushroom can be used. Dried mushroom usually gives a stronger taste while fresh one gives smooth taste.

Prepare all the ingredient and cut them into shreds.

Hot and sour soup|ChinaSichuanFood

Beaten the egg and make the water starch.
Hot and sour soup|ChinaSichuanFood

Cook ham, chili pepper, wood ear mushroom firstly and then add tofu slices in. Pour the egg in and stir with a chop sticker and then water starch. Cook until the soup becomes thick.

Hot and sour soup|ChinaSichuanFood

Add sesame oil and chopped spring onions and coriander. Here comes our hot and sour soup. Hot and sour soup|ChinaSichuanFood

Hot and Sour Soup

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 20 minutes

Yield: Making 4 bowls

Serve: 4

Hot and Sour Soup

Traditional Chinese hot and sour soup with ham, tofu, mushrooms and eggs.


  • 1 box of fresh tofu
  • 4 dried shiitake mushroom
  • 6 wood ear mushrooms
  • 1 red chili pepper
  • 1 ham sausage or chicken leg
  • 2 middle size eggs beaten
  • 3 spring onions chopped
  • 4 corianders chopped
  • 3 cups of water or stock
  • 1 tablespoon black vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon cooking wine
  • 2 dashes black pepper powder
  • pinch of salt as needed
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 1/2 tablespoon soy sauce
  • water starch
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoons water


  1. Cut tofu, chili pepper and ham sausage into shreds. Soak the dried mushroom and dried wood ear mushroom in clean water and then cut into shreds.
  2. Beat the eggs in a small bowl.
  3. Bring water or stock to a boiling in wok.
  4. Add mushrooms, wood ear and ham to cook for around 3 minutes.
  5. Add tofu shreds in and succeeded with light soy sauce, cooking wine and salt.
  6. Pour in beaten eggs in wok too; stir with a scoop or chop stickers.
  7. Add water starch in and cook until the soup becomes thick. Stir the soup occasionally.
  8. Turn off the fire and add vinegar, black pepper powder and sesame oil. Mix well.
  9. Garnish chopped coriander and chopped spring onions.
  10. Enjoy!

sweet and sour soup


  1. Will says

    Hello Elaine

    I make this soup using a slightly different recipe and I suppose everybody makes it a little different.
    I also use lily buds and bamboo shoots., Also, I prefer white pepper over black. I will try yours, it looks good. Thanks

    • Elaine Luo says

      Hi Will,
      Yes everyone has unique hot and sour soup. I love bamboo shoots too but the fresh ones are not always available, otherwise I will add some too.

  2. Monika says

    Dear Elaine,

    I’ve tried this soup last night, and it was really lovely. Nevertheless, I’ve missed the spicier impact (for which I added a tiny bit of Doubanjiang) a bit and the sour tang (easy, I added a bit more vinegar). I’ve also added some Pak Choi for good measure to have some veggies and colour.
    What I’m wondering about is that every time I’m being served this soup in Chinese restaurants, it’s much more reddish in colour and has a more pronounced aroma. Where does this colour come from? Is there something like tomato paste added (which it does not taste like)? Or is this achieved with a good measure of soy sauce?

    Have a good weekend,

    • Elaine Luo says

      Hi Monika,
      Thanks for your feedback.
      The reddish color might come from dark soy sauce and the pronounced aroma comes from the soup base restaurants are using. Restaurants usually have a long time simmered stock for hot and sour soup. My version is homemade lighter one.

  3. Peg says

    I love hot and sour soup, but do not like Tofu.. The consistency… Can I leave it out without compromising the soup? I know tofu has no taste of its own.

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