Hot and Sour Cold Buster Soup

October/November Musing

My October was mostly a miserable month. The baby and me had cold after cold and it has followed us into November. You can read more about my struggles and future plans here. Not that this is a must but I do like to keep readers connected. I am a real mom with real mom struggles just like you!

So, cold and flu season, as me and my family can attest, is fully in swing and upon us. Now you may think hot and sour soup? I usually reach for the chicken noodle when its cold and I’m sick! You would be right! Grandma’s wisdom has been handed down for generations and had such an impact that research has even gone into testing if chicken noodle soup actually can cure your cold! Check out this article here. For me, I can’t eat chicken or gluten and have honestly never really loved chicken noodle soup anyways so I have looked long and hard for my very own cold busting soup!

The reason I started to use Hot and Sour soup, for a good cold remedy, was first just a personal preference. When I was in college and feeling under the weather, I would get take out from the local Chinese restaurant. Hot and Sour soup, wontons, and extra hot Lo Mein made everything seem better (including hang overs! Hey it was college right?).

Why this soup?

Now the Hot and Sour soup you pick up in Americanized Chinese restaurant is probably not going to be as packed with the delicious antioxidants and vitamins that this homemade soup will have in it. Not to mention the potential presence of MSG which, yes, is still used many places its just marketed a bit differently and can be the underlying cause of many allergies. Making this soup from scratch, you are able to incorporate fresh and quality ingredients so you know it’s jammed packed with healing goodness!

So why is this soup so good for you? Especially when you are sick. Here’s the break down of the key ingredients and just why they are going to make you feel better:

Bone Broth: The bone in bone broth is the key to making you feel better when you are sick. Bone broth contains the minerals and cartilage that resides in the bone. Luckily for you, bone broth is an amazing trend and available in a wide variety of ways (freezer, shelf stabe, and even k-cup) so you don’t have to slave over a stove for hours or days to make this nutrient dense super food!

Shiitake Mushrooms: These mushrooms are delicious and a great source of health! Shiitakes contain polysaccharides, terpenoids, sterols and lipids which have all been found to be immune boosting. Perfect for fighting off the bugs that ail you.


Napa Cabbage: Cabbage has been known as a super food in many Old World traditions. Cabbage soup has been both a Russian and Jewish traditional panacea. Cabbage is also very detoxifying (ever heard of the cabbage soup diet?). Napa cabbage has all the goodness of other cabbage plus a ton of vitamin C. This is an important vitamin when trying to fight a cold or flu.

Apple Cider Vinegar : It’s important to note that not all apple cider vinegars are created equal. For this recipe (or really any time you want the health benefits), you’ll want to use apple cider vinegar that has the ‘mother’ unfiltered out. Basically the mother is what makes vinegar and what gives you incredible health benefits. I personally use Braggs. I use them because they are reputable and they used to be the only name on the market for quality apple cider vinegar. However, many other brands have caught on to the health craze of this delicious ingredient so you shouldn’t have trouble finding the mother load…(yeah I know I couldn’t help it).

Nutritional Yeast: If you haven’t’t tried this wonderful product you should! If you are a pregnant mama this supplement is especially wonderful as it contains folic acid and B vitamins! It has a nutty almost cheesy flavor so is great for those craving dairy but not eating it! For a cold, nutritional yeast has been shown to help suffers sleep. It also has been shown to up the bodies natural immune defenses to help fight the common cold (Source).

Ginger: Ginger is simply delicious. I fell in love with it when this wonderful Korean lady who own my local coffee shop made me a cup of ginger crystal tea. If you have never tried this tea you should! It’s different that’s for sure but it has this sweet and spicy flavor that is completely unique. I encourage you (which i rarely do because I have a huge coffee obsession) to swap this out for 1 of your morning or afternoon coffees during cold and flu season. This is because ginger can actually kill the rhinovirus that causes the common cold (Source). Plus any of you mamas that went through horrible morning sickness can probably attest to the feel good properties of ginger! So please add as much of this to your soup as you want!

Garlic: I love garlic. There is so much research on its health benefits from cardiovascular health to cold and flu busting health. In fact, garlic soup is an amazing addition to anyone freezer. If you make a pot of 30 clove garlic soup be sure to freeze some and use it as a base in this soup! It is delicious. I use this recipe from Eat, Drink, Paleo and it is phenomenal! Garlic is truly a miraculous food but lets be honest eating a raw clove of garlic is not that appealing so whenever you get the benefits from delicious tasting meals I say go for it!

Turmeric: Who hasn’t heard of the health benefits of turmeric? It has become so wide spread that most supermarkets now sell fresh turmeric root! If you can get your hands on the fresh stuff I definitely recommend using it. It is delicious and wonderful and so good for you! But, if you don’t have the fresh no worries just use a good quality, organic, dried spice. Turmeric most importantly to the cold and flu fight, is an anti-inflammatory . Turmeric also has been said to enhance antibody responses which can aid your body in fighting of those nasty viruses (Source).


So now that you know how amazing this soup is for you I’ll explain how to go about making it! I’m sure you know how I love my Instant Pot and I have made this in one but it honestly didn’t come out like I wanted and I think its just as easy to make stove top. However, if you do make it in the instant pot leave out the tofu, eggs and nutritional yeast and stir all of them in at the end. It should really only take about 10 mins on your soup setting after you brown everything!

Because of the lengthy list of ingredients I recommend measuring out and chopping up everything in advance and getting it all laid out. So once you get all your ingredients ready, put your soup pan on medium heat with some sesame oil and saute the ginger, garlic, and onions (if you are using fresh turmeric I’d add it here as well). Next add in the shiitake mushrooms. I usually add another swirl of sesame oil as well. You just want to get a little color on the mushrooms because they will cook in the liquid and get soft. So no need to over do it right now.

I then add the pork and turmeric and cook until brown. If you have a few pink pieces that’s ok they will cook in the next hour. I then add in my bamboo shoots. If you can find these fresh or frozen I want them name of your market. I rely on the caned ones however and they can be very metallic tasting. To combat this rise them in cold water cover them with salt for about 5 minutes and then rinse them with more cold water. I was very skeptical of this process but trust me it is worth it!

Your next step is to create your soup base. As I stated above you should totally check out 30 clove garlic soup as a base use half of this and half bone broth. But if you haven’t made that wonderful soup just use bone broth. I use beef but chicken or even duck is fine. Add in the broth, amino, pepper, chili paste, vinegar and napa cabbage. You want to bring this to a boil and then turn it down to low and let simmer for 1 hour or at least until the cabbage is tender if your in a hurry.

Now is time for the fun finishing part! Five to ten minutes before you are ready to serve this soup add in the tofu and eggs. I cut my tofu in long skinny strips to make it look more like the restaurant version but you can cut it however you want. Net take your eggs and scramble them in a bowl. Pour them slowly in the soup while stirring it very vigorously. Stir in nutritional yeast and this soup is ready to serve! I top mine with scallion, sliced jalapenos and cilantro. These topping give the soup a bright and fresh taste. Alternatively you can cook the jalapenos in the soup if they are too much raw but they really help the cold and flu feeling when eating them raw sliced very thin.

I hope you have a happy and healthy winter season but if you don’t, I hope this soup helps you feel a little bit better!


Hot and Sour Cold Buster Soup


Prep Time: 30 Mins

Cook Time: 1 hr 15 mins


1 pound pork chunks (stew meat)

2 eggs

8 oz Tofu

1 medium Onion chopped

4-5 cloves garlic

1 inch chunk ginger root chopped

1 can bamboo shoots

1 cup Shiitake mushrooms

1 small head napa cabbage


1 Jalapeno

1 bunch Cilantro

16 oz Bone broth

3 Cups water

Hot chili paste

2 tbsp Sesame oil

1 tbsp Pepper

1 tbsp Turmeric

¾ cup Apple cider vinegar

½ cup Coconut Aminos

¼ cup Nutritional yeast

In a deep soup pan layer the bottom with sesame oil and saute the onion, ginger and garlic for 2-3 mins until soft. Add in the shiitake mushrooms and cook another min. Add in the pork and turmeric and cook until done. If your bamboo shoots come from a can, as most do, rise them in a colander, heavily salt them and let them sit for 5 mins, and then rinse them in cold water again to get the metallic taste off of them. Add in the bamboo shoots and cook 1 more min. Add broth, vinegar, amino acid, pepper, hot chili paste and napa cabbage. Simmer until cabbage is cooked or up to one hour. Add in tofu, nutritional yeast, cilantro and swirl in egg and cook until tofu is hot about 5 mins. Serve with scallions and jalapenos.

Happy and Healthy Cooking Joyful Mamas!!!


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6 Replies to “Hot and Sour Cold Buster Soup

  1. Just from reading the title “Hot and Sour Soup” I knew I would love it because I as well love this soup. I do also enjoy the classic chicken noodle however I do prefer homemade as well. I do make both soups a little different but it is just as tasty. Sorry you and your baby got caught up in the flu season. That is never fun and it is what happened to myself and whole family last year around new year time. It’s also awesome you included your recipe in detailed form and I love garlic as well. I like being able to cook with proper instructions and I would like to try your version. However I do not eat pork, beef or lamb so I might add chicken which is my favorite. You should definitely continue writing some delicious recipes. I look forward to reading them. 

    1. Roseberry,

      I think chicken would be a wonderful substitution for you!  In fact for a cold busting soup I think chicken is a good way to go especially if you make a chicken bone broth and then add in the meat…How delicious! Thank you for your sympathy.  Being a mom has changed me in so many ways it shouldn’t surprise me that my super healthy immune system has also changed and is a bit more fatigued as well!  But thankfully I have a ton of this yummy soup in my freezer so I can feel better almost immediately!  I hope you love this soup as much as I do.


  2. I’ve heard great things about both ginger and turmeric for the immune system, so that makes sense that your hot and sour soup would be a cold buster! I don’t think I’ve ever actually had hot and sour soup. I am interested in this recipe next time we all get sick (which will probably be soon because we never seem to go long! *sigh*). Is there a purpose behind the tofu or is it just a preference? I don’t think I could get anyone in this house to eat that, lol! But everything else in this recipe looks great, and it’s Whole 30 compliant without the tofu!

    1. Holly,

      I have made this soup for years without tofu.  However, the tofu makes it seem more like a restaurant soup and varies the texture a bit.  I have also made this soup without the tofu on both a Paleo and Whole 30 diet and it is a wonderful cold day pick me up!  So don’t worry about the tofu but I would say it gives some good protein so if you are so inclined chop it up into small pieces and sneak it in it for your family!


  3. Hi Kara! I absolutely love hot and sour soup, especially when I am under the weather. I loved reading your recipe and because I am vegetarian, the wheels in my head are turning as I think about some delicious substitutes for the meat. I love how you have incorporated tofu as well… definitely a wonderful meatless source of nutrition! I will be making this very soon!


    1. Janani,

      Yes this soup could absolutely be made vegetarian!  You can even add more types of mushrooms to make up for the pork.  I like crimini and black fungus (you can find it in Asian grocery stores).  I have very little meat substitute experience but they now have a jack fruit meat substitute that seems very hearty and may stand up to this soup as well!  I hope you enjoy it!


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