Instant Pot Hot and Sour Soup

Step-by-Step Guide on how to make Instant Pot Hot and Sour Soup. We designed an easy Chinese hot and sour soup recipe that’ll take the classic favorite to the next level! Silky smooth soup with a burst of rich depth of hot, tangy, umami flavors with satisfying textures. A deliciously appetizing soup that warms your heart.

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hot and sour soup instant pot

Hot and Sour Soup

Hot and Sour Soup (酸辣湯) is a popular soup many enjoy in Chinese restaurants around the world.

There are many styles of Hot and Sour Soup from different cultures. Even among Chinese Hot and Sour Soups, there are regional differences from the original Beijing or Szechuan style Hot and Sour Soup. 

hot and sour soup recipe

Generally, Chinese hot and sour soup is made of pork, tofu, egg, bamboo shoots, wood ear mushrooms, shiitake mushrooms, dried lily flowers, vinegar, and white pepper.

Based on our experiments, we designed this easy hot and sour soup Instant Pot recipe using techniques and ingredients that create more complex layers of flavors.

How to Make Instant Pot Hot and Sour Soup

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Hot and Sour Soup Experiments

With Amy + Jacky’s curious minds, our goal is to find out how we can make a better tasting Hot and Sour Soup in Instant Pot.

So we decided to seek our answer to these 2 questions with another Amy + Jacky’s Test Kitchen experiment!

  1. Should we use Chinkiang Vinegar or White Vinegar to make Hot and Sour Soup? 
  2. Should we brown or not brown the pork? Does it make a big enough difference in taste in the Hot and Sour Soup?

Experiment #1: Chinkiang Vinegar vs. White Vinegar 

Test #1 White Vinegar Only

White vinegar’s flavor is more intensely acidic/sour and sharper than Chinkiang Vinegar. The flavor profile is more straightforward without depth or complexity.

Results: It does its’ job in adding the tanginess to the Instant Pot hot and sour soup. We both thought the flavor profile reminded us of a classic North American Chinese restaurant Hot and Sour Soup. Though our tastebuds confirmed this test version tastes better than restaurants due to the flavor-enhancing techniques and other ingredients. 😉

Amy + Jacky’s Notes: If you’re using white vinegar, you’ll likely need to add sugar to balance the flavors.

Test #2 Chinkiang Vinegar Only

Results: This version has a more gourmet flavor profile and a delicious complex soup base. Our tastebuds reported that they experienced more depth and rich variety of flavors than Test #1 (using only white vinegar). Also, the tangy-acidic flavor was pleasantly milder.

Test #3 Mixture of White Vinegar and Chinkiang Vinegar

Results: Depending on your preferences and vinegar quality, you may enjoy this hot and sour soup using a combination of both kinds of vinegar. White vinegar adds a sharp tanginess while Chinkiang vinegar imparts the rich, deep complex flavors into the soup.

Experiment #1 Conclusion

After experimenting with different kinds of vinegar and side-by-side comparisons, we finalized using authentic Chinkiang Vinegar to make Hot and Sour Soup. Because it adds a deeper complexity to the soup, tastes more pleasantly delicious, and less sharply acidic. Also to keep it flexible, you’re welcome to taste and balance the flavors with some White Vinegar in the end. 


Experiment #2: Brown or Not Brown Pork Shoulder

hot and sour soup experiment using pork without browning

Test #1 Pork with No Browning (Easy Dump version): The flavor profile is more similar to what you’ll get at North American Chinese restaurants but tastes better. 😉

Test #2 Brown Pork (Flavor-Boosted version): This version is a clear winner with more body, rich complexity, and layers of flavors.

Experiment #2 Conclusion

This Instant Pot Hot and Sour Soup still tastes delicious without browning the pork. But if you want to take your favorite classic Chinese restaurant’s Hot and Sour Soup to the next level, this easy optional step is worth it!


Hot and Sour Soup Ingredients

Based on our experiments, we designed our tasty soup base to incorporate flavors from browned pork shoulder, chicken stock, shiitake mushroom stock, and Chinkiang vinegar.

hot and sour soup ingredients

Pork Shoulder. One of our favorite cuts of pork because it’s beautifully marbled with enough fat to keep the meat juicy while cooking. Pick one that has some nice marbling for the best results.

Shiitake Mushrooms (冬菇 / 香菇). They impart a unique fragrant, umami-earthy flavor, and meaty velvety texture to the hot and sour soup. If possible, use higher quality shiitake mushrooms because there can be a big difference in flavor, aroma, and texture. 

Wood Ear Mushrooms (木耳). It’s also known as black fungus – edible fungi that add a satisfying crunch-chew texture to the Instant Pot hot and sour soup.

Tofu (豆腐). There are different varieties of tofu you can use for different dishes. We crafted this hot and sour soup recipe with firm tofu.

Bamboo Shoots (竹筍). You may find these edible shoots fresh, dried, or canned in various shapes. For convenience, consistency, and ease of access, we developed and tested this hot sour soup recipe with canned bamboo shoots.

Dried Lily Flowers (金針菜 / 黃花菜). It’s also called dried lily buds or golden needles. They’re edible flowers that add flavors, aroma, and texture to the soup.

Chinkiang Vinegar (Zhenjiang vinegar 鎭江香醋). A rice-based black vinegar that’s aromatic, moderately tangy, and slightly sweet. Adds a nice depth of flavors with moderate acidity, so it won’t overpower other flavors. A secret ingredient many chefs used in Chinese cooking! 

Different brands and batches of Chinkiang Vinegar can vary in their tastes, aroma, and consistency. Try to pick a high quality brand you like because it’s key to your hot and sour soup’s flavor profile.

  • Chinkiang Vinegar: one of the most common brands we can find in North American grocery stores. Budget-friendly, authentic, and flavorful.
  • Chinkiang Vinegar (aged 3 years): you may see aged vinegar sold at a more premium price. They deliver more complex and richer flavors than regular Chinkiang vinegar.

Soy Sauce 

We’re using both regular soy sauce and dark soy sauce in this recipe. Among the many brands of soy sauces, Lee Kum Kee has been one of our favorite go-to soy sauces. Same with our families.

Unsalted Chicken Stock. We develop recipes with unsalted ingredients so we can better control the flavors. If you’re substituting it with salted chicken stock, keep in mind that the sodium level can vary a lot between different brands. Always taste and adjust accordingly.

Amy + Jacky’s Money Saving Tips! If you have a local Asian store, try to find the ingredients there first. You’ll most likely be able to get them at lower prices.

hot and sour soup

Tools for Hot and Sour Soup Instant Pot Recipe

Step 1

Rehydrate Dried Mushrooms and Dried Lily Flowers

Rinse the dried ingredients under tap water to remove any dirt or residue.

In a 500ml measuring cup or mixing bowl, rehydrate dried shiitake mushrooms with 2 cups (500ml) of 120°F warm water.

Amy + Jacky’s Tips! We placed a small bowl on top of the shiitake mushrooms to make sure they were fully submerged in the warm water.

rehydrate shiitake mushrooms, dried wood ear mushrooms, dried lily flowers

In 2 separate bowls, rehydrate dried wood ear mushrooms and dried lily flowers (optional) with 2 cups (500ml) of warm water in each bowl.

Soak them for 20 to 60 minutes until softened.

Step 2

Prepare Ingredients

Amy + Jacky’s Time Saving Tip! Prepare the other ingredients while the dried ingredients are rehydrating.

Shiitake Mushrooms: Once the shiitake mushrooms are rehydrated and softened, squeeze all the liquid out of the mushrooms, remove the stems, then slice them thinly. 

Amy + Jacky’s Notes – Mushroom Liquid: Remember to save the shiitake mushroom liquid, we’ll use it as stock later in the recipe.

How to Cut Shiitake Mushrooms

Roughly chop the wood ear mushrooms.

If you’re using dried lily flowers, remove the tough ends, then cut them in halves lengthwise. You can also split them into half strips by hand.

prepare Wood Ear Mushrooms and dried lily flowers

Step 3

Optional: Brown Pork Shoulder in Instant Pot

Required Time: This optional flavor-enhancing step takes around 10 minutes.

Heat up Instant Pot by using the “Sauté More” function. With newer Instant Pot models, you may have to press the “Start” button.

instant pot whisper quiet saute function

Wait until it says “HOT” on the screen. This takes roughly 8 minutes.

Amy + Jacky’s Tip! Make sure your Instant Pot is as hot as it can be to induce a Maillard reaction.

Pat dry the pork shoulder, then lightly season one side of the pork with salt and black pepper.

Then, add 1 tbsp (15ml) peanut oil or vegetable oil in Instant Pot. Make sure the oil is coating the whole bottom of the pot.

Carefully place the seasoned side of pork shoulder in Instant Pot. Then, lightly season the other side of the pork with salt and black pepper.

brown pork in Instant Pot

Brown one side of the pork for 5 minutes before flipping over. Then brown the other side or pork for another 5 minutes. You don’t need to constantly flip the meat.

Set aside the beautifully browned pork shoulder in a large container.

Step 4

Deglaze Instant Pot

Pour 1 tablespoon (15ml) Shaoxing wine and 1 cup (250ml) of the shiitake mushroom stock in Instant Pot. Then completely deglaze the bottom of the pot by scrubbing the flavorful brown bits with a wooden spoon. 

deglaze

Amy + Jacky’s Notes: If you skipped Step 3 (optional browning step), add the Shaoxing wine with the other ingredients in the next step.
Step 5

Pressure Cook Hot and Sour Soup

Press “Cancel” button to turn off Instant Pot.

Add browned pork shoulder in Instant Pot.

Then, add sliced shiitake mushrooms, 1½ tsp (8g) sliced ginger, 2 tbsp (30ml) Chinkiang vinegar, 1 tbsp (15ml) regular soy sauce, 1 tbsp (15ml) dark soy sauce, 1 tsp (8g) fine salt, 1 tsp (3.2g) ground white pepper, and 1 tsp (5ml) roasted sesame oil in the Instant Pot.

add ingredients

Add the remaining shiitake mushroom stock and 4 cups (1L) unsalted chicken stock to the Instant Pot.

Close lid and turn the Venting Knob to Sealing position.

Pressure Cook at High Pressure for 18 minutes

Instant Pot Hot and Sour Soup Cooking Time: Pressure Cook at High Pressure for 18 minutes, then Natural Release for 15 minutes.

After 15 minutes, release the remaining pressure by turning the Venting Knob to Venting position.

When Floating Valve drops, open the lid carefully.

Step 6

Shred Pork Shoulder and Add Ingredients

pressure cook pork shoulder

Place the pork shoulder in a large bowl.

Discard the ginger slices.

Add lily flowers, bamboo shoots, wood ear mushrooms, carrots, and tofu to the Hot and Sour soup.

Bring the hot and sour soup in Instant Pot back to a boil using “Saute High” function. Then, allow the soup to boil for 2 minutes.

shred pork
While you’re waiting for the Instant Pot hot sour soup to boil, shred the pork meat with two forks.

Amy + Jacky’s Tip! If you have a glass lid, cover the hot and sour soup in Instant Pot as you bring it back to a boil. It’ll speed up the process.
Step 7

Thicken and Add Egg to Hot and Sour Soup in Instant Pot

In a mixing bowl, combine 3 tbsp (27g) cornstarch with ¼ cup (63ml) cold water. Stir thoroughly. 

Amy + Jacky’s Tip – Thicker Soup! If you enjoy a thicker soup, use 4 tbsp (36g) cornstarch and ¼ cup + 1 tbsp (78ml) cold water.

Add shredded pork back in the Instant Pot.

When the soup is simmering, mix the cornstarch mixture into the Hot and Sour Soup one-third at a time until desired thickness.

make hot and sour soup

Slowly add 1 large beaten egg to the soup while stirring with a continuous circular motion.

Step 8

Season and Serve Hot and Sour Soup

Taste and adjust the seasoning with more vinegar, salt, white pepper, and roasted sesame oil if needed.

hot and sour soup in Instant Pot

Amy + Jacky’s Flavor Balancing Notes:

We designed this recipe to have the flexibility for you to tailor the sour level at the end (See Experiment #1). So make sure to taste and balance the hot and sour soup according to your vinegar and preferences.

  • Chinkiang Vinegar: When we used 2 tbsp (30ml) Chinkiang vinegar in Step 5, the tangy-acid level was pleasantly mild. So we balanced the flavors by adding another 1 tsp (5ml) roasted sesame oil and 1 tbsp (15ml) white vinegar.
  • White Vinegar: When we used 2 tbsp (30ml) white vinegar in Step 5, we had to balance the soup with roughly 1 tsp (4g) granulated sugar.
 

Finally, garnish your Instant Pot Hot Sour Soup with finely sliced green onions, then serve!

instant pot hot sour soup

What to Serve with Hot and Sour Soup

We crafted this Hot and Sour Soup Instant Pot recipe to be a mouthful of satisfaction – packed with textures and flavors. So you can make a meal by serving it over noodles to make a hot and sour noodle soup. You can also enjoy it with some dumplings, rice, Instant Pot Fried Rice, or Instant Pot Steamed Buns.

You can also serve it as a soup to go with a Chinese meal accompanying some of your North American Chinese takeout favorites like spring rolls, Instant Pot Beef and Broccoli, Instant Pot Lemon Chicken, Instant Pot Orange Chicken, or Instant Pot General Tso Chicken.

Enjoy the Instant Pot hot and sour soup with some tasty Taiwanese classics like Instant Pot Taiwanese Braised Pork or Instant Pot Three Cup Chicken.

Or serve it with some Hong Kong-style dishes like Instant Pot Char Siu, Instant Pot Honey Garlic Ribs, Instant Pot White Cut Chicken, Instant Pot Chinese Beef Stew, Instant Pot Crispy Pork Belly, or Instant Pot Soy Sauce Chicken.

Enjoy Instant Pot Hot and Sour Soup!

4.95 from 17 votes

Instant Pot Hot and Sour Soup

Author: Amy + Jacky
How to make Instant Pot Hot and Sour Soup. We designed this easy Chinese hot and sour soup that’ll take the classic favorite to the next level! Silky smooth soup with a burst of rich depth of hot, tangy, umami flavors with satisfying textures. A deliciously appetizing soup that warms your heart.
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Servings 6 - 8
Total Time 50 minutes
Rate this Recipe

Ingredients

For Optional Browning Step

  • 1 tablespoon (15ml) peanut oil or vegetable oil
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper

Soup

Thickener

  • 3 - 4 tablespoons (27g - 36g) cornstarch
  • ¼ cup (63ml - 78ml) cold water

Garnish

  • 1 - 2 stalks green onions , finely sliced

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Instructions 

  • Rehydrate Dried Mushrooms and Dried Lily Flowers: Rinse dried ingredients to remove any dirt or residue.
    In a 500ml measuring cup, rehydrate dried shiitake mushrooms with 2 cups (500ml) of 120°F warm water.
    In 2 separate bowls, rehydrate dried wood ear mushrooms and dried lily flowers with 2 cups (500ml) of warm water in each bowl.
    Soak them for 20 to 60 minutes until softened.
  • Prepare Ingredients: To save time, prepare other ingredients while the dried ingredients are rehydrating.
    Shiitake Mushrooms: Once the shiitake mushrooms are rehydrated and softened, squeeze all liquid out of the mushrooms, remove stems, then slice them thinly. Save the shiitake mushroom liquid, we'll use it as stock later in the recipe.
    Wood Ear Mushrooms: Roughly chop the wood ear mushrooms.
    Dried Lily Flowers: Remove tough ends, then cut them in halves lengthwise.
  • Optional - Brown Pork Shoulder in Instant Pot: Heat up Instant Pot by using the “Sauté More” function. Wait until it says "HOT" on the screen (roughly 8 minutes).
    Pat dry pork shoulder, then lightly season one side of pork with salt and black pepper.
    Add 1 tbsp (15ml) peanut oil or vegetable oil in Instant Pot. Make sure the oil is coating the whole bottom of the pot.
    Carefully place the seasoned side of pork in Instant Pot. Then, lightly season the other side of pork with salt and black pepper. Brown one side of the pork for 5 minutes before flipping over, then brown the other side for another 5 minutes. You don't need to constantly flip the meat.
    Set aside the beautifully browned pork shoulder in a large container.
  • Deglaze Instant Pot: Pour 1 tablespoon (15ml) Shaoxing wine and 1 cup (250ml) of the shiitake mushroom stock in Instant Pot. Then completely deglaze the bottom of the pot by scrubbing the flavorful brown bits with a wooden spoon.
    Note: If you skipped Step 3 (optional browning step), add Shaoxing wine with other ingredients in the next step.
  • Pressure Cook Hot and Sour Soup: Press "Cancel" button to turn off Instant Pot.
    Add browned pork shoulder in Instant Pot. Add in sliced shiitake mushrooms, 1½ tsp (8g) sliced ginger, 2 tbsp (30ml) ChinKiang vinegar, 1 tbsp (15ml) regular soy sauce, 1 tbsp (15ml) dark soy sauce, 1 tsp (8g) fine salt, 1 tsp (3.2g) ground white pepper, and 1 tsp (5ml) roasted sesame oil. Add in the remaining shiitake mushroom stock and 4 cups (1L) unsalted chicken stock.
    Close lid and turn the Venting Knob to Sealing position. Pressure Cook at High Pressure for 18 minutes, then Natural Release for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, release the remaining pressure by turning the Venting Knob to Venting position. When Floating Valve drops, open the lid carefully.
  • Shred Pork Shoulder and Add Ingredients: Place the pork in a large bowl. Discard ginger slices.
    Add lily flowers, bamboo shoots, wood ear mushrooms, carrots, and tofu to the soup.
    Bring the soup back to a boil using the "Saute High" function. Then, allow it to boil for 2 minutes.
    While you're waiting for the soup to boil, shred the pork with two forks.
  • Thicken and Add Egg to Hot and Sour Soup: In a mixing bowl, combine 3 tbsp (27g) cornstarch with ¼ cup (63ml) cold water. Stir thoroughly.
    Amy + Jacky's Thickening Tip: For a thicker consistency, use 4 tbsp (36g) cornstarch and ¼ cup + 1 tbsp (78ml) cold water.
    Add shredded pork back in Instant Pot.
    When the soup is simmering, mix the cornstarch mixture into the soup one-third at a time until desired thickness.
    Slowly add 1 large beaten egg to the soup while stirring with a continuous circular motion.
  • Season and Serve: Taste and adjust the seasoning with more vinegar, salt, white pepper, and roasted sesame oil if needed.
    Amy + Jacky's Flavors Balancing Notes:
    We designed this recipe in a way that you can tailor the sour level at the end (See Experiment #1). Keep in mind different types and brands of vinegar have different acidity levels, flavors, and aromas. So make sure to taste and balance the soup according to your vinegar & liking.
    a) Chinkiang Vinegar: When we used 2 tbsp (30ml) Chinkiang vinegar in Step 5, we balanced the flavors by adding another 1 tsp (5ml) roasted sesame oil and 1 tbsp (15ml) white vinegar.
    b) White Vinegar: When we used 2 tbsp (30ml) white vinegar in Step 5, we had to balance the soup with roughly 1 tsp (4g) granulated sugar.
    Finally, garnish the Hot and Sour Soup with finely sliced green onions, then serve!

Notes

1. Chinkiang Vinegar (Zhenjiang vinegar 鎭江香醋): Different bottles of Chinkiang Vinegar can vary in their tastes, aroma, and consistency. Try to pick a high quality brand you like because it’s key to your hot and sour soup’s flavor profile.
2. Pork Shoulder: Pick one that has some nice marbling for the best results.
3. Bamboo Shoots (竹筍): For convenience, consistency, and ease of access, we used canned bamboo shoots.
4. Soy Sauce: We used both regular soy sauce and dark soy sauce in this recipe. If you don’t have dark soy sauce, you can substitute it by adding a bit of sugar in the end.
5. Unsalted Chicken Stock: We develop recipes with unsalted ingredients so we can better control the flavors. If you’re substituting it with salted chicken stock, keep in mind that the sodium level can vary a lot between different brands. Taste and adjust accordingly.
6. Prepare Shiitake Mushrooms: We placed a small mixing bowl on top of the shiitake mushrooms to make sure they're fully submerged in the warm water.
7. Ginger: If u like to eat the ginger with the soup, cut them in strips; if don't want to eat them with the soup, cut them in slices, so you can find and discard them before serving.
8. Thicker Soup: Feel free to add more thickener if you like a thicker texture.
9. Glass Lid (For Step 6): If you have a glass lid, cover the soup as you bring it back to a boil. It'll speed up the process.
Rate Amy + Jacky's Recipe: If you've tried our recipe, rate the recipe in the Comments section. Thank you!
Calories: 174kcal
Course: Soup
Cuisine: American-Chinese, Asian, Chinese, Taiwanese
Keyword: chinese hot and sour soup, hot and sour soup instant pot, hot and sour soup recipe, hot sour soup instant pot, instant pot hot and sour soup

Nutrition

Calories: 174kcal | Carbohydrates: 12g | Protein: 15g | Fat: 8g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Trans Fat: 0.003g | Cholesterol: 44mg | Sodium: 626mg | Potassium: 382mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 2137IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 64mg | Iron: 2mg
instant pot hot and sour soup | instant pot hot sour soup | chinese hot and sour soup
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