Hot and Sour Soup – The cure for the common cold

I swear, hot and sour soup really could be the cure for the common cold.   Mind you, I make this just because we love it,  think of it as ‘preventative’ medicine.   Our story of how we came to love this soup is at the bottom of this blog.  Nothing annoys me more than just wanting to get to the recipe and having to scroll way down to find it.    So, without further ado – I present you Hot and Sour Soup.

Hot and Sour Soup

Hot and Sour Soup

There are just a few tips on making this wonderful soup.

  • Do not just throw everything in the pot at the same time – the ingredients need to be added in a certain order for the flavors to develop correctly. (Ask me how I know this!)
  • If you have everything ready to go, this soup comes together in a flash.  I prep the ingredients and line them up on the counter next to the stove in the order they will be added.
  • The bamboo shoots can be purchased in strips, I highly recommend this as it saves a bundle of time.   Also, Tao told me to soak the bamboo shoots in boiling water to remove the ‘tinny’ taste, the only ingredients listed on the can are bamboo shoots and water but I do soak them, as he instructed.
  • Black fungus strips?  Yes, they are dehydrated and look funny but they are just mushrooms (fungus) and they do really belong in this soup.  You can use fresh mushrooms, sliced thinly if you prefer.

fungus strips 001


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    Hot and Sour Soup
  • Many thanks to Tao for teaching me the secrets of real Hot and Sour soup. Don't be tempted to just throw everything in the pot at one time. Each ingredient needs to be added at the proper time to develop the flavor of this special soup. Also known as a cure for the common cold in our house, you can add more white vinegar to individual servings if desired.
Servings Prep Time Cook Time
6 15 minutes 30 minutes




  1. Boil about 2 cups water. Drain bamboo strips and place in a heat proof bowl,pour boiling water over them, allow to soak. Place dried fungus strips into a heat proof bowl, pour boiling water over them. Set aside to rehydrate.
  2. Drain and cut tofu into strips, set aside. Mix salt, pepper and sugar together, set aside. Mix cornstarch and water together, set aside. Mix eggs with 2 tablespoons water, set aside.
  3. In a large soup pot add oil and black bean garlic sauce, cook over low heat until the sauce starts to sizzle. Add chicken and beef broth and stir well to combine. Make sure to stir the bottom of the pot to incorporate the black bean sauce. Bring to a boil.
  4. Drain the bamboo shoots and add to the pot. Drain the fungus strips and coarsely chop, add to the pot. Add the tofu and gently stir. Simmer on medium heat for 3 minutes.
  5. Add the vinegar and pepper, salt and sugar. Stir to combine and simmer an additional 3 minutes. While stirring, add the cornstarch water mixture into the soup. You may need more cornstarch mixture depending on how thick you want the soup.
  6. Turn the heat to high until the soup in boiling. Add the egg, a little at a time drizzling it over the soup in thin strips. Stir the toasted sesame oil into the soup.
  7. Ladle into bowls, top with chopped green onion. Serve with additional white vinegar on the side for those who would like it a little more 'sour'.

Recipe notes

fungus strips 001

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I was introduced to Hot and Sour Soup in 1978 at a wonderful restaurant called Mr Pings in Garden Grove.  No Baking Papa had been introduced to this place by his friend Tom, who had a far more adventurous attitude about food than he did.  After several lunches with Tom doing all the ordering, NB Papa was hooked.  They became lunchtime regulars and a steaming bowl of Hot and Sour soup was always on the table before they even ordered.

At that time, date nights were rare and reserved for very special occasions.  We had a two year old and I was pregnant with our second child.  He was so excited to take me to Mr. Pings for dinner that we made up an excuse to celebrate, hired a babysitter and headed to Mr Pings.  He did all the ordering, which was very unusual but he knew his way around the menu.  I still remember every dish we had that night.

He insisted that Hot and Sour soup was the best thing he had ever tasted.  It was not love at first bite for me.  I kept sipping at the soup as he was raving about how delicious it was.  By the time I finished my soup I decided it was wasn’t too bad.  It must be an acquired taste and to not dampen his enthusiasm I lied and said I loved it.

About a week before my due date I developed a horrid head cold.  My sinuses were completely blocked and I could barely breathe.    The owner of Mr. Pings must have overheard NB Papa and Tom discussing this over lunch and presented NB Papa with a quart container of Hot and Sour soup for him to take home to me.  “This special soup, it have extra healing for her.”

As I heated the soup, stirring and breathing the vinegary steam my nose began to run.   I sipped on the steaming soup I could feel my sinuses loosening up.  I could blow my nose!

I tried many times to re-create that miracle soup, all were dismal failures.  Nothing I made even came close to  Mr. Pings creation.  That is until I ‘met’ Tao, RN on AllRecipes.  Tao is originally from China and posted two versions of Hot and Sour Soup.  From his recipes I was able to fool with the ‘formula’ and managed to come up with something very very close to that very special soup of yesteryear.

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About Baking Nana

Each morning my granddaughter Sarah calls to ask, "Watcha doing, Nana? Are you baking Nana?" Hence my "name" Baking Nana. I am a mother to three wonderful children and a grandmother to 12 very hungry grandkids. I don't bake fancy cakes but I do make wonderful yeast bread and home cooked meals made with love.


Hot and Sour Soup – The cure for the common cold — 1 Comment

  1. Hi Baking Nana! I have been chasing that dried black fungus for a LONG time, visited many markets, at least now I know what it looks like! :) I am not getting notification of your new posts, I just try to stop in. I LOVE your blog. Thanks so much for doing it. :)

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