This authentic Chinese homemade hot and sour soup recipe is 100% gluten-free, easy to make with vegetarian options and is a healthier but equally delicious recipe to satisfy any Chinese takeout craving!
For the most part, going 100% gluten-free has been an easy transition. I can get most of my favorite foods in gluten-free form and there has been a huge upswing in delicious, high-quality gluten-free menu items at most restaurants.
But, there are a few things I really miss. Greasy, cheesy late-night pizza, for one. And restaurant-style Chinese takeout, for another.
Better Than Takeout Homemade Hot And Sour Soup (Gluten-Free)
I used to LOVE classic Chinese restaurant buffets and takeout. Sunday night takeout from the local Chinese restaurant was a huge treat growing up, and it became a Sunday night “last supper” of sorts in my early twenties (diet starts Monday, right?). But the truth is I always felt gross after eating it, as delicious as it was, Chinese takeout is packed with sodium, MSG and other additives.
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So when I went 100% gluten-free, I pretty much stopped eating Chinese food altogether. It was too hard to navigate menus to avoid soy sauce and other hidden sources of gluten. Gluten-free Chinese restaurant menus were few and far between. But I really miss it.
I’ve attempted to re-create a few of my favorite classic Chinese takeout menu items over the years, most successfully with my Sticky Asian Meatballs recipe and now with one of my absolute favorite Chinese dishes, hot and sour soup.
This hot and sour soup recipe is so delicious, filling and flavorful, it rivals any restaurant-style Chinese takeout soup!
Looking for more soup recipe ideas? You might like my homemade matzo ball soup recipe with a secret ingredient that creates the most soul-warming broth.
Is Authentic Hot And Sour Soup Naturally Gluten-Free?
No, authentic hot and sour soup – like the kind you’d get in a Chinese restaurant – is not naturally gluten-free. It’s not gluten-free because a key ingredient in the soup is soy sauce.
Gluten can be hidden in chili garlic sauce, sambal olek or chili paste, depending on what type is used.
That’s why I was so excited to create this recipe! By using gluten-free soy sauce, tamari or coconut aminos, this homemade hot and sour soup recipe is completely gluten-free. This means you can enjoy hot and sour soup even if you have a gluten allergy, sensitivity or Celiac disease.
Is Hot And Sour Soup Healthy?
Hot and sour soup from an Americanized Chinese restaurant – the classic takeout option – is not really healthy. Super high in sodium, possibly filled with all kinds of additives and MSG…while it might be tasty it’s definitely not high in nutritional value.
When you make this homemade hot and sour soup recipe, you can control the amount of salt, use fresh spices and seasoning (no MSG!) and add lots of fresh vegetables. That’s why this homemade hot and sour soup is a healthier alternative to classic Chinese takeout. Best of all, it only takes 20 minutes to make!
Tips For Making Gluten-Free Hot And Sour Soup – Ingredients and Substitutions
It may seem like homemade hot and sour soup requires a lot of ingredients, but this recipe is flexible and customizable so you can easily work with whatever you have on hand to make substitutions.
The key ingredients for a flavorful hot and sour soup are:
- Vinegar: Vinegar is the key to the sour flavor in the soup, and authentic hot and sour soup is made with rice vinegar. But, you can use white vinegar or apple cider vinegar (just use ACV sparingly, it has a stronger vinegar flavor)
- Mushrooms: Mushrooms help provide the earthy, chewy texture in this hot and sour soup recipe. I like to use shitake mushrooms for an authentic texture, but you can sub wood ear, white button mushrooms or baby bellas. The most traditional hot and sour soup recipes use dried shitake mushrooms (and dried lily flowers), but I don’t like the texture of them. I find dried shitake mushrooms are too chewy for me, even after soaking.
- Arrowroot slurry: The arrowroot powder slurry thickens the soup, but if you don’t have arrowroot powder you can sub cornstarch.
- Coconut aminos: I use coconut aminos (I like Coconut Secret) because that’s my preferred gluten-free soy sauce substitute, but you can use regular soy sauce if not gluten-free, gluten-free soy sauce or tamari.
- Eggs: The eggs form ribbons as you slowly stir them into the soup. If you are egg-free you could certainly make hot and sour soup without eggs and it will still be a delicious, flavorful soup, but the soup won’t have the same texture. I do not recommend egg substitutes (like flax or chia eggs) for this recipe. Best to leave out the eggs altogether.
- Meat and tofu: Classic hot and sour soup calls for shredded, julienned or thinly sliced pork. You can easily substitute chicken or beef, or omit completely and just use tofu to make a vegetarian hot and sour soup. If using tofu, make sure to get firm or extra firm tofu, otherwise it will fall apart in the soup.
- Vegetables: I like to use the traditional vegetables of mushrooms and bamboo shoots, but you could easily use any vegetables you have on hand – just try to use crispy or chewy ones to maintain the same texture profile. I would suggest carrots and/or cabbage as good vegetable substitutions.
- Chili flavor: There are multiple ingredients you could use to get the spicy, red chili flavor in traditional hot and sour soup. I use sambal olek, because it’s what I usually have on hand but you can easily make a 1-to-1 substitution with red chili paste, srriracha, or chili garlic sauce. If you like a really spicy soup, finish the soup with a drizzle of chili oil!
- White pepper: Authentic hot and sour soup calls for white pepper, which has more distinct flavor but you can absolutely use regular black pepper if that’s what you have on hand.
How To Make Gluten-Free Hot And Sour Soup
The best part about homemade hot and sour soup is how easy it is to make! This soup doesn’t need to simmer for hours on the stove, all the ingredients combine and cook quickly so you can have dinner on the table in less than 30 minutes!
To make gluten-free hot and sour soup, you cook the meat, if using, to build flavor in the saucepan, and then bring all the broth ingredients to a boil. Then you add the vegetables, tofu and meat back, and let simmer for a few minutes until vegetables start to get soft and meat is warmed through.
To thicken the soup, you add the arrowroot or cornstarch slurry, and then slowly stir in the egg to form ribbons.
And voila! You have a hearty, flavorful and healthy hot and sour soup that’s as good as any restaurant-style Chinese takeout!
- 1 lb shredded pork, chicken or beef (omit if vegetarian)
- 1 carton chicken, beef or vegetable broth
- 2 eggs
- 8 oz shitake mushrooms (or other mushrooms)
- 1 can bamboo shoots
- 1 package extra firm tofu
- 1/2 cup coconut aminos
- 1/4 cup rice vinegar (plus more to taste)
- 1/2 tsp brown sugar
- 1 tbsp sambal olek, srriracha or chili garlic sauce (more to taste)
- 1/2 tsp white pepper
- 2 tbsp minced or grated ginger
- 1 tablespoon arrowroot or cornstarch dissolved in 2 tablepsoons water
- 2 tbsp sesame oil
- 2-3 tbsp green onion, chopped for garnish
- Heat sesame oil in a saucepan, add 1 shredded pork (or beef or chicken) and cook through, transfer to a plate and set aside. Skip this step for vegetarian.
- While the meat cooks, thinly slice the mushrooms, bamboo shoots, tofu, and ginger (or grate ginger).
- If the saucepan is dry from the pork, add more oil and add ginger, sautee until fragrant, 30 seconds or so.
- Add broth to saucepan and bring to a boil. Add rice vinegar, coconut aminos or soy sauce, brown sugar, srriacha or sambal olek or chili garlic sauce and bring back to a boil.
- Reduce to a simmer and add tofu, bamboo shoots, mushrooms, and pork. Let the soup simmer for 5 minutes or so until mushrooms start to soften slightly and pork is warmed through.
- Add arrowroot slurry and stir until soup starts to thicken, 1-2 minutes.
- Crack eggs into a bowl and lightly beat. Drizzle eggs into soup slowly, stirring constantly to form ribbons.
Serve immediately with extra sambal olek, drizzle of sesame oil or chili oil and garnish with green onions (optional).
Gluten-free hot and sour soup will keep for 2-3 days in an airtight container in the fridge.Print
Have you tried to make gluten-free hot and sour soup at home? I’d love to hear what you think in the comments below!
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