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Chinese Hot-and-Sour Mushroom Soup

by Judith Finlayson

Chinese Hot-and-Sour Mushroom Soup

Chinese Hot-and-Sour Mushroom Soup

From The Chile Pepper Bible by Judith Finlayson

In Chinese medicine, which is fundamentally based on the balancing principles of yin and yang, heating foods are those that warm the body, feeding it with energy. Balance, which includes establishing equilibrium among the five flavors (sweet, sour, salty, bitter and umami), helps the body’s vital spirit, called qi, to flow freely and support excellent health. Need I say more? Hot, sour, salty, sweet and loaded with umami from the soy sauce and mushrooms, which are also known to strengthen the immune system, this soup has all the makings of a restorative tonic. And it tastes good, too!

Vegan Friendly

Gluten-Free Friendly

4           dried shiitake mushrooms       4

             Boiling water

1 tbsp     oil                        15 mL

1 tbsp     minced garlic              15 mL

1 tbsp     minced gingerroot          15 mL

8 oz        trimmed fresh shiitake mushrooms,   250 g

1             red bell pepper, seeded and diced     1

12 to 1    red finger chile, cut into paper-thin rings   12 to 1

4 cups     mushroom stock      1 L

14 cup    gluten-free soy sauce     60 mL

14 cup    Chinese black rice vinegar     60 mL

1 tsp        toasted sesame oil          5 mL

2 tbsp      thinly sliced green onions (white and green parts)        30 mL


1.  In a heatproof bowl, soak dried mushrooms in boiling water for 30 minutes, weighing down with a cup to ensure they remain submerged. Drain and discard liquid. Slice mushrooms thinly and set aside.

2. In a large saucepan or stockpot, heat oil over medium heat. Add garlic and ginger and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Add soaked dried mushrooms, fresh mushrooms, bell pepper, and finger chile to taste. Cook, stirring, until very fragrant, about 5 minutes. (Mushrooms shouldn’t be fully cooked at this point.)

3. Add stock, soy sauce and vinegar and stir well. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for until flavors are infused, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in sesame oil.

4. Ladle into warm serving bowls. Garnish with green onions. Serve immediately.



*Be sure to use gluten-free soy sauce or wheat-free tamari if you are making this soup for someone who is sensitive to gluten.

Makes 4 servings


Chile Savvy

Bitterness is an important flavor in this soup. The sweet red bell pepper balances that component, adding lovely complexity.