Chinese Hot and Sour Soup

Tina Wasserman
Recipe by
Tina Wasserman

Never thought to have hot and sour soup for Shabbat dinner? Well, the thousands of Jews who have lived in China over the last 1,300 years have! Using chicken soup as the base, hot and sour soup is not only iconic for Chinese cuisine, but is representative of China’s contribution to chicken soup.

4 large dried shitake mushrooms
6 tree ear mushrooms
6 dried tiger lily buds, stem (hard end) removed
1 Tablespoon oil
1/4 pound finely julienned veal scaloppine
1 Tablespoon light soy sauce
1/2 cup finely shredded bamboo shoots
5 cups chicken broth
Salt to taste
2–3 Tablespoons Chinese black vinegar or red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon dark soy sauce
2 Tablespoons cornstarch
3 Tablespoons water
1 block firm white bean curd, cut into thin strips
1 Tablespoon sesame seed oil
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 egg, slightly beaten
2 Tablespoons chopped scallions
  1. Place the black Chinese mushrooms, tree ears, and tiger lily buds in a glass bowl and cover with water. Microwave for 2 minutes and allow the dried vegetables to sit for 15 minutes or longer until soft. Drain.
  2. Cut off and discard the stems of the mushrooms. Cut the mushrooms and the tree ears into thin slices. With your fingers, shred the tiger lily buds. If the buds are long, cut them in half.
  3. Heat a wok or 3-quart saucepan for 20 seconds. Add the oil and heat for another 10 seconds. Add the julienned veal and stir-fry for 10 seconds. Add the light soy sauce and stir-fry for another 20 seconds or until the meat is about done.
  4. Add the mushrooms, tree ears, tiger lily buds, and bamboo shoots. Stir-fry quickly for 30 seconds, and add the broth and salt to taste. Stir in the vinegar and dark soy sauce.
  5. Combine the cornstarch and water, and stir into the simmering broth. When the mixture is slightly thickened, add the bean curd and bring to a boil.
  6. Turn off the heat. Add the sesame seed oil and the pepper, and stir to blend.
  7. Pour the soup into a hot tureen or keep it in the pot with the heat still turned off.
  8. Add the lightly beaten egg in a steady stream as you slowly stir in a circular motion. Sprinkle with the scallions and serve at once. 
Additional Notes
  • The distinctive musty flavor of this soup comes from the tiger lily buds. These dried buds are from the tiger lily flower and are considered vegetarian and kosher.
  • For an authentic taste, veal is the perfect substitute for pork in any Chinese dish. Similar in color and texture to pork, it does not alter the flavor or the look of the dish one iota.
  • Cornstarch must be exposed to boiling liquid for it to thicken properly. If your soup doesn’t look thick enough, combine another tablespoon of cornstarch with 2 tablespoons of cold water and stir it into the hot soup. The beauty of cornstarch is that it doesn’t immediately swell and clump together when added to a hot liquid, so adjustments to the soup are easy to make.