Mom’s Recipes

Hot and Sour Soup (Betty Foo; Hunan Restaurant)

6 servings


35 minutes

total time


1/2 cup dried lily buds (day lilies)

1/2 cup dried mushroom ("wood ears" or "tree ears")

1/2 lb firm tofu, julienned (this will usually be 1 block or cake of tofu)

3/4 cup pork, finely julienned (see comments for vegetarian alternative)

2 eggs, lightly beaten

1/2 cup bamboo shoot, julienned (canned or fresh)

2 tablespoons cornstarch

1/2 cup water

5 tablespoons distilled white vinegar

1/2 teaspoon sugar

5 ounces soy sauce (see comments)

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder (see comments)

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper, ground

1 teaspoon white pepper, ground

6 cups chicken broth (see comments for vegetarian version)

2 tablespoons scallions, finely chopped

2 tablespoons gingerroot, finely chopped

1 teaspoon sesame oil (optional, made from toasted sesame seeds preferred)


Clean the dried day lilies, soak them in warm water for about 20 minutes.

Cut off the hard, tough tip of the stem and then cut the day lilies in half lengthwise.

Clean and soak the wood ear mushrooms in warm water for about 20 minutes, then cut into small pieces. To clean, just wipe with a damp cloth -- don't soak or wash!

Bring the chicken broth to a boil and then add the pork (or vegetarian alternative -- see below), skimming the surface of any fat.

Cook the pork for 3-4 minutes, until the broth comes to a boil again.

Add the tofu, mushroom pieces, bamboo shoots, and day lilies.

Let the pot return to a boil, then reduce heat to maintain a low boil.

Add the soy sauce, spices, vinegar, salt and sugar.

Taste the soup, adjusting the vinegar (you may need to modify up or down by an ounce) for the "sour" and salt for balance.

Mix the corn starch and water to create a paste for thickening.

Add the corn starch mixture slowly, stirring constantly.

Drizzle the beaten eggs in slowly while stirring, so that you get "strings" of egg.

Turn off the heat.

Presentation -- ladle the soup into bowls, then garnish with 1/2 tsp of scallion per bowl and a drizzle of sesame oil.

Comments on ingredients & substitutions:.

Dried lily pods and wood ears (also called "tree ears", "black fungus" or "Hu Bei") available in most oriental markets.

Chicken stock -- use home made or a low sodium canned variety. For Vegetarians use a Vegetarian Chicken stock or a Vegetable Stock.

Pork -- For kosher alternative, use shredded chicken or turkey; for vegetarian alternative, replace pork with a mix of fresh flavorful mushrooms, e.g., shiitake, oyster, or portobellos.

Soy sauce -- Betty uses regular soy sauce -- if using a "lite soy" variety, you may have to adjust the amount of salt to taste.

Vinegar -- the vinegar is the essence of the "sour" aspect of this soup, and distilled white vinegar gives you the strongest taste; rice vinegars, wine vinegars, apple cider vinegars, etc, will either be too dilute (not enough acidity) or add extraneous flavors.

Garlic -- garlic powder is preferred in this recipe, but if you choose to use cloves, leave them whole, add them only to flavor the chicken broth and remove them before adding other ingredients.

Sesame oil -- adds a shimmer and smoky flavor to the final product. Chinese sesame oil is typically from toasted seeds; Japanese is typically untoasted, so the flavor will be subtly different.


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6 servings


35 minutes

total time
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