Chicken Hot and Sour soup

a bowl of red hot and sour soup in a white bowl with crackers on the side and white vinegar with sliced green chilies in it in a small bowl

This Indo-Chinese style hot and sour soup is delicious! Totally adaptable to personal taste and a restaurant classic!

What is the difference between Indo-Chinese & Traditional Chinese Hot and sour soup?

The traditional Chinese recipe uses pork, tofu, dried Shiitake mushrooms, dried lilies and other Asian ingredients and creates a strong umami and sour flavored broth. This is the soup you get when you order from any Chinese restaurant outside of South Asia.

The Indo-Chinese aka Desi style hot and sour soup has a tomato-ey and chili base broth. It has a characteristic vibrant red color that sets it apart from all the other soups of the region. One of the popular street style food available in India and Pakistan. It is served with a special spiced vinegar that has green chilies cut in it! But don’t worry, you can totally control how much chili you want in your soup. This recipe is of the the Pakistani style Hot and sour soup that I’ve eaten in countless restaurants and food stalls and that makes us expats feel nostalgic living away from Pakistan.

Hot and Sour Soup – Ingredients and Substitutions

  • Chicken broth
  • Chili oil
  • Chili garlic sauce
  • Vegetables & Mushrooms
  • Assorted seasonings, sauces and thickener
all ingredients shown in different bowls for the soup

Chicken Broth

I make my own Indo-Chinese style broth that I use for all similar Asian recipes. For this recipe, I only took 4 to 5 pieces of bone in chicken to prepare the broth. But if you already have some broth at hand, you can totally use that. Ready-made broths or vegetable broths can also be used.

The shredded chicken for this soup comes from the broth. But, if you are using pre-made broth for this recipe, you will need 3/4 cup of shredded chicken to go with it.
You can Use any leftover chicken or marinate 1 chicken breast
with salt, pepper and garlic, saute and steam cook. Shred it to use.

Chili Oil

Chili oil is a Chinese condiment that adds a subtle layer of heat to the dish. It takes hardly 5 minutes to prepare. Plus its super versatile so you can later use it for any other grilling, cooking purposes. Click here for the recipe of chili oil.

If you don’t want to make it yourself, you can also buy ready made chili oils
OR use regular oil as well.

Chili Garlic sauce

This is one of the main ingredients of the recipe, it gives the soup its color and brings heat. Chili garlic sauce is a type of ketchup that has tomato paste, garlic and chili in it. The one I use is from Knorr and easily available in South Asian stores.

Make your own chili garlic sauce by mixing these together:

  • 1/3 cup of tomato paste / ketchup
  • + 2 tbsp of any red chili paste (like Szechuan sauce, sambal oelek)
  • + 2 cloves of finely chopped garlic

Vegetables and mushrooms

You will need thinly cut bell peppers, cabbage and shredded carrots for this recipe. I personally really like fresh shiitake mushrooms for this soup but only had the canned ones when I made it from the blog. These are the standard veggies that goes in the recipe but feel free to go ahead and personalize the veggies you want in your soup.

Sauce, seasoning and thickening

The soup uses all the basic condiments like vinegar, hot sauce, soy sauce, worcestershire sauce and brown sugar. I didn’t add any extra salt because all the sauces and the broth carry salt with it, but you can add more if you need to. To thicken the soup, all you need is a cornstarch slurry made by mixing cornstarch with a little water.

How to make Desi Hot and Sour soup?

1. Making the Chicken broth

Like mentioned above, I make my own chicken broth for this recipe, and you are welcome to use any alternatives mentioned.

I sear the chicken with spices and chili oil and allow the chicken to brown and release all its juices. Then I simply add water and let it simmer for 20 to 30 mins while I prep the veggies for the soup.

Searing the chicken first with spices and oil brings out more flavor from the chicken and gets rid of any raw smell that poultry and meat usually carry.

Once the broth is ready, strain and set the broth aside. Discard all the whole spices and shred the chicken.

2. Sauteing veggies and mushroom and chicken

Stir frying the vegetables, mushroom and chicken at high flame in the oil removes all the water that they carry. It also kills and microbes in the ingredients. It adds more flavor to the dish and helps increase the shelf life of the soup.

stir frying shredded vegetables in a pot

3. Adding all the seasoning and sauces and broth

The sauces, seasoning and broth can all go together in the pot and cook at high flame. The recipe calls for a higher vinegar level, but don’t be alarmed. Yes you DO need that much vinegar.

Thickening the soup

Last step of your soup making. This soup is thickened by cornstarch. Simply make a cornstarch slurry by mixing it with water and you are donezo!

Serving And FAQS

The soup is usually served with vinegar spiced with sliced green chilies, prawn crackers and some soy sauce on the side for people who need to top off with some more.

a bowl of red soup with vegetables and green chilies strewen across it

Can I drink Hot and Sour Soup if I am clean eating?

Cooking at home already makes your food THAT much nutritious because you’ll be using fresh real ingredients to make it. Most of the ingredients of this soup are nutritious in general, like veggies and mushroom, and will be perfect if you are trying to eat clean nutritious food. Here are some things you can make to the rest of the ingredients to create a clean Nutritious Hot and Sour soup

  • Making the Chicken broth at home with organic or grass fed chicken.
  • Use low sodium Soy sauce and Natural vinegar for the recipe.
  • Make your own chili garlic sauce at home with the measurements provided.
  • Use fresh vegetables and mushrooms.
  • You can use oats instead of cornflour as a thickener for your soup. Simply grind some oats to make powder and add 1 tsp to your soup. Let the oats cook for 10 mins and you will have a nice thick soup. Add more if needed.

How long can the soup stay fresh? What can I do with leftovers?

  • This soup has fresh vegetables and mushrooms in it, it should be ideally consumed within a day or two. Keep any leftover soup straight away in the fridge as soon as it cools down. Use an airtight container to store the soup.
  • You can easily throw in some boiled noodles in the leftover soup to create a spicy noodle soup or dry it out a bit to create a saucy noodle stir fry.

Can I make the soup in advance?

If you want to make this soup for a gathering, I would not recommend preparing the full soup a day before. You can definitely make the broth in advance and prepare the vegetables and mushrooms. Just assemble on the day of the event.

More Indo-Chinese style recipes

Dragon Chicken
Spicy one pot Chicken Noodles
Saucy Szechuan Chicken

a bowl of red soup with vegetables and green chilies strewen across it

Indo-Chinese Hot and Sour soup

Yield: 4 to 5 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes

A restaurant style Indo-Chinese version of the traditional hot and sour soup,


Chicken broth (see note 1 for substitutes)

  • 5 pieces of bone-in chicken
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper powder
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 6 cloves of garlic
  • 3 to 4 dried whole red chilies
  • 5 cups of water
  • 2 tbsp chili oil (see notes)


  • 2 tbsp chili oil (see notes)
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced cabbage
  • 1/2 cup shredded carrot
  • 1/2 cup julienned green bell pepper
  • 1/3 cup sliced mushrooms (canned or fresh)
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp worcestershire sauce
  • 4 tbsp vinegar
  • 2 tbsp hot sauce
  • 1/2 cup chili garlic sauce (see note 2)
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 4 tbsp corn starch
  • 2 cup water


Chicken broth

  1. In a pot, add chili oil, chicken, garlic, bay leaves and red chilies.
  2. Sear the chicken and garlic for 2 mins at medium high flame.
  3. Add salt and black pepper, saute for another 2 mins.
  4. Add water and once it starts to boil, cover the pot.
  5. Check after 15 to 20 mins to see if the broth has reduced to roughly half.
  6. Remove the chicken and shred it. Strain the broth and discard all the whole spices. Set both aside.

Preparing the soup

  1. In a pot, add chili oil and all the vegetables, mushrooms and shredded chicken. Saute at high heat for 3 to 4 mins.
  2. Reduce flame to low and add all the sauces. Mix everything together.
  3. Add your chicken broth and turn the flame back to medium.
  4. Add 4.5 cups of water and allow the soup to start simmering.
  5. Mix cornstarch with about 1/2 cup of water to make a smooth slurry and add it to the soup.
  6. Cook for another 2 3 mins and allow the cornstarch to cook through.
  7. Adjust seasoning and add salt if needed.
  8. Serve with prawn crackers, soy sauce and vinegar with sliced green chilies cut into it.


Note 1:

For the chicken you can also use:

  • 3/4 cup of leftover chicken shredded
  • Grill 1 chicken breast with salt, pepper, and garlic, then shred it to use

For the broth you can also use:

  • 3 cups of premade broth
  • Any homemade broth
  • 2 chicken bouillon cubes with added garlic powder.

Note 2

Substitute for Chili garlic sauce

  • 1/3 cup of tomato paste / ketchup
  • + 2 tbsp of any red chili paste (like Sichuan sauce, sambal oelek)
  • + 2 cloves of finely chopped garlic

Other notes

  • I didn't add any extra salt for the soup, because the broth and sauces carry enough of salt. If you are using low sodium products, you may have to add 1/4 or 1/2 tsp salt.
  • You can use regular oil instead of chili oil. Click here for recipe of chili oil

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 5 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 221Total Fat: 14gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 11gCholesterol: 16mgSodium: 980mgCarbohydrates: 20gFiber: 3gSugar: 6gProtein: 6g

Did you make this recipe?

Tag @butteroverbae on Instagram and hashtag it #butteroverbae

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1 year ago

This is hands down the best recipe❤

1 year ago

So warm and satisfying. Perfect for these wintery days!

1 year ago

Hi Wajiha
I have been following you on Instagram for a while & was tempted today to make this soup. I had a small query on the quantity of water used to make the cornflour slurry. Will 2 cups not make the soup watery and increase the cooking time to get the thick consistency?
The end result was super tasty with a nice sour kick. In these times of lockdown..everyone living in cold damp weather needs to try this!

1 year ago

Was a hit with my fam! Thank you ????????

jia kitchen
1 year ago

i will try your recipe Indo-Chinese Hot and Sour soup
looking yummy

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