Hot & sour soup

Hot & sour soup

V is for Vegan

I served this at The Secret Garden Club supper club that I host monthly with gardener Zia Mays. We try to use the produce that I grow in my garden. This time the theme was herbs – classic, unusual and micro. This hot and sour soup is a bit of a mix between a Thai sour soup and a Chinese one. I found that just the black vinegar wasn’t sour enough, so I added lime. A proper Chinese hot and sour soup has jelly ears and bamboo shoots in it. I didn’t have any, so this is my bastardised version. Fear not, it was damn good even if not entirely authentic.

It’s also very Chinese if all the vegetables are julienned (cut into fine strips) and the tofu precisely cut into squares.


Quantity Ingredient
3-4 tablespoons groundnut or vegetable oil
3 garlic cloves, very finely chopped
2.5 cm piece ginger, peeled and grated
1 punnet shiitake mushrooms, sliced, (150 g)
1 punnet brown mushrooms, sliced, (150-200 g)
2 red chillies, deseeded and thinly sliced
Big glug rice wine or dry sherry
2 litres vegetable stock, hot
4 lime leaves, (ideally fresh)
40ml light soy sauce
25ml dark soy sauce
50ml chinese black vinegar
4 limes, juiced
3 tablespoons cornflour, mixed with 6 tablespoons cold water
or 250g ramen noodles
100g baby corn, halved lengthways
100g sugar snap peas
several carrots, finely julienned, (optional)
150g silken tofu, drained and cut into 1.5 cm cubes, (in your palm over the pot)

For the garnish:

Quantity Ingredient
1 bunch spring onions, julienned
handful bean sprouts, well washed
mint and coriander leaves


  1. Heat the oil in a large pan and add the garlic, ginger and both types of mushroom. Fry for 5–10 minutes until the mushrooms are golden, then add the chillies and rice wine or sherry. Stir for a couple of minutes.
  2. Add the stock, lime leaves, soy sauces, vinegar and lime juice. Taste for the required balance of heat (chilli), sour (lime and vinegar) and salt (soy sauces). Adjust the balance as needed.
  3. Add the cornflour paste (unless you will be adding noodles later; don’t add both or it will be too starchy) and simmer for 30 minutes. Next add the baby corn, sugar snaps, carrots if using, and tofu, with the noodles if you haven’t added cornflour.
  4. Simmer for 5 minutes, or longer to cook the noodles, then ladle into bowls and top with the spring onions and bean sprouts, then the herbs.
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