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Instant Pot Hot and Sour Soup

Instant Pot hot and sour soup is incredibly hearty, healthy, and packed with allllll the good stuff like chicken, mushrooms, and some fun Asian ingredients! I’ve also included vegan and vegetarian modifications.

Hot and Sour Soup with garnishes

There’s a lot of recipes out there that say it’s just like the takeout version. Personally, I don’t want the takeout version! This one is a millions times better. You’ll never be satisfied with Chinese restaurant soup after making my authentic hot and sour soup recipe, guaranteed.

What is Hot and Sour Soup?

We had some friends over last night that looked quite confused when I asked if they wanted to try my Instant Pot Hot and Sour Soup. They had never had it before! WHAT!

Hot and Sour Soup with garnishes

Hot and sour soup is such a staple for me, that I sometimes forget that it might not be as mainstream as its very “safe” cousin, egg drop soup. This soup is a chicken or pork and soy sauce based broth soup, that gets a lot of flavor from various mushrooms and vegetables.

Hot and sour soup gets the “hot” from white pepper, and “sour” from vinegar. No, it doesn’t taste like straight vinegar, but it does have a little punch from both.

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Is Hot and Sour Soup Spicy?

I had lots of people were asking me on Instagram if it was spicy, so I wanted to add this little section in here.

two bowls of egg drop soup on a blue background

Like I mentioned above, hot and sour soup gets its “hot” designation from white pepper. That means there’s no chilies, peppers, or anything that you’d traditionally think of as “spicy.” I wouldn’t characterize hot and sour soup as spicy. This soup has a slight heat, but NO burn.

If you don’t like any spice, I recommend you make my wildly popular egg drop soup recipe.

Instant Pot Hot and Sour Soup Ingredients

You can add button mushrooms to your hot and sour soup, but I find them to be so bland and not authentic. If you want real, authentic hot and sour soup, use these ingredients. You can find them in most specialty or Asian grocery stores.

I go to Ocean Mart in Sandy, Utah for my mushrooms. I can find pretty much everything else at my local grocery store.

There’s a restaurant that we used to go to that put enoki mushrooms in their hot and sour soup. Enoki mushrooms are long, tall, thin, white mushrooms that almost feel stringy. I love using them in Miso soup or stir fry too!

cut enoki mushrooms

They come in little packaged with the dirt and roots attached. My tip (which is how my mom does it), is to cut the whole bottom third of the package off and throw it away. Then, rinse the rest of the mushrooms.

I remember my mom would drive 45-ish minutes round trip and buy large quarts of it to bring home because she loved it so much. I always think of her when I make this soup.

Sliced vegetables for hot and sour soup

In my recipe, I start with a chicken broth base and add the following protein and vegetables:

  • Carrots
  • Enoki Mushrooms
  • Shiitake Mushrooms
  • Wood Ear Mushrooms
  • Bamboo Shoots (the baby ones are much more tender)
  • Green Onions
  • Chicken
  • Eggs
  • Tofu

It is suuuper hearty and filling! Along with those, I add soy sauce, vinegar, white pepper, and sesame oil for flavor and cornstarch for thickening. If a lot of these ingredients feel foreign and scary to you, try making whatever substitutions you want. I’ll talk about what you absolutely need next.

Essential Ingredients for Hot and Sour Soup

Here are the ingredients I think are absolutely essential for hot and sour soup and should not be substituted:

Ingredients for Hot and Sour Soup
Ingredients for hot and sour soup, along with (unpictured) chicken broth and white pepper.
  • Vinegar: this lends the majority of the flavor for the soup, and gives it the “sourness” associated with it
  • White Pepper: Again, this is where the “hot” comes in, and it gives that perfect deep flavor
  • Sesame oil: sesame oil is one of the biggest flavor contributors and it essential to each bowl. The Kadoya brand is the absolute best. Don’t skip it!
  • Soy Sauce: the soy sauce gives much of the flavor and the color

I understand that the mushrooms and bamboo shoots may be a bit out of the norm for most people. But trust me, they are delicious and worth it. I purchase them at my local Asian market, but I see Shitake and Enoki mushrooms at my local grocer too.

If you don’t want to get those ones, get a darker, meatier mushroom. A white button mushroom has very little flavor and won’t do much for you.

Easy Hot and Sour Soup Recipe

This dish has a few more ingredients and steps than most of the other ones on my site, BUT it is NOT technically difficult. It’s mostly dump and cook!

If you like hot and sour soup and other Chinese restaurant staples, try my Pineapple Curry, Air fryer or Deep fryer Cream Cheese Wonton recipe, and Air Fryer Cookie Dough Wontons for dessert!

Hot and Sour Soup with garnishes

Soaking Wood Ear Mushrooms

First, soak the black wood ear mushrooms in hot water for about 20-30 minutes. I just do this first while I’m chopping everything up. You can purchase these pre-cut, which won’t take as long to rehydrate.

Chinese wood ear mushrooms or dried black fungus
Chinese wood ear mushrooms or dried black fungus

I used half of 2.5 ounce package of whole mushrooms. They are labeled as Chinese wood ear mushrooms or Dried Black Fungus. Yeah… I know it sounds weird, but it’s good, I promise. They have a bit of a chewy texture and the little black ribbons look beautiful in the finished product.

Chinese wood ear mushrooms or dried black fungus

After they have soaked, drain and rinse them out. Next, cut out and discard any super hard pieces. Stack the large pieces on top of one another and roll them up.

Using a sharp knife, julienne the mushrooms into super thin ribbons. I use the same technique to cut the kale in my Zuppa Toscana Recipe.

Marinate Chicken

I love adding chicken to my hot and sour soup for protein and texture. Start out by finely mincing the chicken into tiny pieces. They shouldn’t be the star of the soup, so I like making them small accents of the overall dish.

Adding a bit of cornstarch to the chicken is a common technique in American-Chinese cuisine called velveting. Velveting chicken or meat helps make it super soft and tender, just like the dishes from a Chinese restaurant.

Chicken for marinating

Along with cornstarch, I add some soy sauce, white pepper, and mirin. Mirin is a sweet Japanese cooking rice wine seasoning. It is a huge staple in Japanese cooking and gives a lovely umami element to any dish.

If you don’t have it and won’t use it for anything else, I wouldn’t buy it. I recommend using some water or rice wine vinegar with a pinch of sugar.

Slice Vegetables

Next, the vegetables. Most of the vegetables in hot and sour soup should be a matchstick shape and texture to stay authentic. But, you can make it a bit easier by using pre-shredded carrots and bamboo shoots.

Sliced vegetables for hot and sour soup

You’ll slice up the Wood Ear mushrooms, Shiitake mushrooms (if they aren’t already sliced), carrots, bamboo shoots, and tofu into long sticks. Green onions can be thinly sliced like normal.

How to make Hot and Sour Soup in Instant Pot

Now that all the prep is done, it’s cooking time! Add the chicken broth, chicken, carrots, mushrooms, bamboo shoots, garlic, and ginger. Lock the lid on the Instant Pot, turn the knob to sealing, and cook on manual high pressure for 5 minutes.

Grated Ginger Tip

I love using fresh ginger in so many dishes, but especially here. Here’s a quick tip to quickly and easily grate ginger: Use a spoon to quickly peel the ginger, then use a microplane grater to grate ginger right into a small bowl or plate.

Tip for grating and peeling ginger

I store my fresh ginger in a Ziploc bag in the freezer. When I need to use it, I just peel and grate from frozen!

Cornstarch Slurry and Eggs/Tofu

While the soup is cooking, mix together the vinegar, soy sauce, corn starch, sugar, and white pepper into a liquid measuring cup. After pressure cooking, do a quick release to the sealing knob.

Instant Pot hot and sour soup recipe

Turn the Instant Pot to high saute, and pour the cornstarch slurry into the soup while stirring. It’ll get nice and thick! In the same empty measuring cup, crack and whisk two eggs. Turn off the heat, and slowly drizzle the eggs in a circular pattern.

Do NOT stir it!

Carefully add the tofu and sesame oil, and wait 20-30 seconds. Now, you can gently fold the soup ingredients together. I just pull the soup from one side of the pot to the other about 2-3 times.

Serving Hot and Sour Soup

Hot and Sour Soup with garnishes

I like drizzling each bowl with extra sesame oil and topping with extra white pepper and green onions. My mouth is literally watering right now! Each bowl gets just a little love and extra fresh kick with these toppings!

Stove Top Instructions

Follow all instructions for marinating chicken, soaking mushrooms, and slicing veggies. Next, bring 7 cups of chicken broth to a boil. Add the vegetables as listed for the Instant Pot instructions. Let simmer for about 10-15 minutes until the chicken is cooked through and the vegetables are tender. Then, proceed with the cornstarch slurry and topping instructions.

Vegetarian Hot and Sour Soup

Follow directions as directed for Instant Pot or Stove top, but omit the marinated chicken and use double the tofu and/or additional mushrooms. Use vegetable broth in place of chicken broth.

Vegan Hot and Sour Soup

Follow directions as directed for Instant Pot or Stove top, but omit the marinated chicken and eggs. Use double the tofu and/or additional mushrooms. Use vegetable broth in place of chicken broth.

Soup Recipes

This hot and sour soup recipe is the best warm soup! It can be made an Instant Pot Soup recipe, or made on the stove top! I also have instructions for vegetarian soup and vegan soup. I can't wait for you to try this amazing soup recipe! #soup #hotandsour #chinese | Tried, Tested, and True Instant Pot Cooking by Lisa Childs
Hot and Sour Soup with garnishes

Hot and Sour Soup (Instant Pot or Stove top)

Yield: 6-10
Prep Time: 35 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes

This hot and sour soup recipe is incredibly hearty, healthy, and packed with allllll the good stuff like chicken, mushrooms, and some fun Asian ingredients! You'll never be satisfied with Chinese restaurant hot and sour soup after making my recipe, guaranteed.

Ingredients

Marinated Chicken

  • 1 Medium Chicken Breast, finely minced (about 1/2-1 lb)
  • 1 Tablespoon Cornstarch
  • 1 Tablespoon Soy Sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon Mirin
  • 1/2 teaspoon White Pepper

Other Ingredients

  • 1 oz Dried Woodear Mushrooms (Dried Black Fungus), (I take one oz of dried mushrooms, then rehydrate)
  • 6 Cups Chicken Broth
  • 1 Cup Sliced Carrots (julienned or sliced)
  • 1 Cup Finely Sliced Bamboo Shoots
  • 1 Cup Sliced Shitake Mushrooms (I take one cup of dried mushrooms, then rehydrate)
  • 7 oz. Enoki Mushrooms
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons Minced Garlic
  • 1/2 Tablespoon Fresh Ginger, grated*
  • 3 stalks Finely Sliced Green Onions, about 1/4-1/3 cup)
  • 9.5 oz Silken Tofu, sliced into long, skinny rectangles
  • 2 Eggs
  • 3 Tablespoons Sesame Oil

Cornstarch Slurry

  • 1/2 Cup Soy Sauce
  • 1/2 Cup White Vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons White Pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Sugar
  • 1/4 Cup Cornstarch

Toppings Per Bowl, to taste

  • Sesame Oil 
  • Finely Sliced Green Onions
  • White Pepper
  • Crushed Red Pepper Flakes

Instructions

Instant Pot Instructions

    1. Add dried woodear mushrooms/black fungus mushrooms and 2 cups of hot water to a large bowl. Let stand for about 30 minutes to reconstitute. Once reconstituted, drain and rinse the mushrooms. Remove or cut out any hard parts. Layer the mushrooms one on top of another and roll into a bundle, then slice into very fine strips. You may also purchase them pre-cut, which I prefer.
    2. In another medium bowl, combine finely minced chicken with cornstarch, soy sauce, mirin (or water), and white pepper. Let marinate while preparing other ingredients.
    3. Slice all other vegetables and tofu into thin strips. Enoki mushrooms come in a small package with the roots still attached. With the packaging still on, cut the bottom 1/4-1/3 (the dirt and roots) off. Remove the mushroom tops and lightly rinse any additional dirt off.
    4. Preheat the Instant Pot on HIgh Saute. Add the carrots, enoki mushrooms, bamboo shoots, woodear mushrooms, shiitake mushrooms, enoki mushrooms, garlic, ginger, green onions, chicken, and chicken broth.
    5. Lock the lid, turn the knob to sealing, and cook on manual high pressure for 5 minutes. 
    6. While the soup is cooking, combine in a liquid measuring cup: soy sauce, vinegar, cornstarch, white pepper, and sugar. Whisk the slurry together with a whisk.
    7. After the 5 minutes have elapsed, perform a quick release. Once the pin has dropped, open the lid and turn the Instant Pot to High Saute.
    8. Whisk the slurry again if it has settled. While stirring the soup, pour the cornstarch mixture into the soup and let thicken, about 2-3 minutes. Add tofu, and stir, then turn off the Instant Pot.
    9. In the same liquid measuring cup, beat two eggs. Without stirring the soup, slowly drizzle a thin stream of eggs in a circular motion into the pot. Do not stir. Add sesame oil and wait 30 seconds.
    10. Gently fold the ingredients together by "pulling" the soup from the outsides of the Instant Pot to the middle, about 4 times.
    11. Serve by topping each bowl with a drizzle of additional sesame oil, green onions, white pepper, and crushed red pepper for an additional kick.

    Stovetop Instructions

    1. Add dried woodear mushrooms/black fungus mushrooms and 2 cups of hot water to a large bowl. Let stand for about 30 minutes to reconstitute. Once reconstituted, drain and rinse the mushrooms. Remove or cut out any hard parts. Layer the mushrooms one on top of another and roll into a bundle, then slice into very fine strips. 
    2. In another medium bowl, combine finely minced chicken with cornstarch, soy sauce, mirin (or water), and white pepper. Let marinate while preparing other ingredients.
    3. Slice all other vegetables and tofu into thin strips. Enoki mushrooms come in a small package with the roots still attached. With the packaging still on, cut the bottom 1/4-1/3 (the dirt and roots) off. Remove the mushroom tops and lightly rinse any additional dirt off.
    4. Bring 7 cups of chicken broth to a boil. Add the carrots, enoki mushrooms, bamboo shoots, woodear mushrooms, shitake mushrooms, enoki mushrooms, garlic, ginger, and chicken. Let simmer for about 10-15 minutes until the chicken is cooked through and the vegetables are tender.
    5. While the soup is cooking, combine in a liquid measuring cup: soy sauce, vinegar, cornstarch, white pepper, and sugar. Whisk the slurry together with a whisk. While stirring the soup, pour the cornstarch mixture into the soup and let thicken, about 2-3 minutes. Add the tofu and stir. Turn off the heat.
    6. In the same liquid measuring cup, beat two eggs. Without stirring the soup, slowly drizzle a thin stream of eggs in a circular motion into the pot. Do not stir. Add sesame oil and wait 30 seconds. Gently fold the ingredients together and serve with toppings. Top each bowl with a drizzle of additional sesame oil, green onions, and white pepper.


Vegetarian/Vegan Hot and Sour Soup Instructions

    Follow directions as directed for Instant Pot or Stove top, but omit the marinated chicken and eggs and replace with additional mushrooms, carrots, bamboo, or tofu to taste. Replace Chicken Broth with Vegetable Broth.

Notes

*I like mine with about a tablespoon of fresh ginger- it adds a little bit more "kick," but it is definitely more prominent.

*

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 212Total Fat: 11gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 8gCholesterol: 63mgSodium: 1723mgCarbohydrates: 15gFiber: 3gSugar: 4gProtein: 14g

Did you make this recipe?

Tag me @tried_tested_true on Instagram!

Susan Overcast

Sunday 11th of October 2020

I just made this and it really is the best hot and sour soup I've ever eaten! Thank you!

Lisa Childs

Monday 19th of October 2020

Susan, thank you so much!!! I'm so glad you liked it- now I want some! Thanks for taking the time to come back and comment - Lisa

Matt C

Monday 15th of June 2020

If I can find it, is black vinegar better to use in this recipe than white?

Lisa Childs

Tuesday 23rd of June 2020

I've never used black vinegar but if the flavor is similar to white, I'm sure it would be great

Mamydziecko

Monday 24th of February 2020

Tags: Asian, Chinese cuisine, dinner, easy weeknight recipes, instant pot, instant pot recipes, meatless, mushrooms, recipes, shiitakes, soup, Tofu

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