How many calories are in a large bowl of Hot and Sour Soup?

Hot and sour soup is a popular Chinese soup that is both spicy and sour. It is made with a variety of ingredients like bamboo shoots, tofu, mushrooms, eggs, vinegar, chiles, and Sichuan peppercorns. While it makes for a flavorful and comforting meal, many people wonder just how many calories are packed into a steaming bowl of hot and sour soup.

Typical Ingredients in Hot and Sour Soup

The exact ingredients in hot and sour soup can vary greatly depending on factors like the recipe used and personal preferences. However, some of the most common ingredients include:

  • Chicken or vegetable broth – Broth forms the base of the soup and adds a savory flavor.
  • Tofu – Soft or firm tofu adds protein and soaks up the flavors of the broth.
  • Bamboo shoots – Crunchy, sliced bamboo shoots are a classic hot and sour soup ingredient.
  • Mushrooms – Meaty mushrooms like shiitakes or wood ear mushrooms are often used.
  • Eggs – Scrambled eggs add protein and texture.
  • Green onions – Sliced green onions provide flavor and crunch.
  • Vinegar – Chinese black vinegar or rice vinegar gives the soup its sour taste.
  • Chiles – Red chile peppers or flakes provide spicy heat.
  • Sichuan peppercorns – These uniquely flavored peppercorns add a signature numbing effect.
  • Cornstarch – A cornstarch slurry helps thicken the broth.
  • Soy sauce – A small amount of soy sauce adds savory depth.
  • Sesame oil – This aromatic oil provides nutty flavor.
  • Ginger – Fresh grated ginger adds zing.
  • Garlic – Minced garlic provides pungency.

By combining various amounts of these ingredients, the flavor profile of the soup can change tremendously. The specific amounts and types of each ingredient will also have an impact on the overall calorie count.

Calories in Broth

One of the main ingredients that forms the foundation of hot and sour soup is the broth. There are two main options when it comes to the broth:

  • Chicken broth – Chicken broth is made by simmering chicken bones and vegetables in water. A one cup serving of chicken broth typically contains around 50 calories.
  • Vegetable broth – Vegetable broth is made using a combination of vegetables, aromatics, and seasonings. One cup of vegetable broth has about 10 calories.

For a large bowl of hot and sour soup, the broth alone can contribute anywhere from 100-200 calories depending on the total amount used and whether it is chicken or vegetable based. Chicken broth packs a heavier calorie punch due to its higher fat content from the chicken bones.

Calories in Tofu

Tofu is a staple source of protein in many hot and sour soup recipes. It provides a substantial, meaty texture as well as the ability to absorb surrounding flavors. There are two main types of tofu used:

  • Firm tofu – 1/2 cup of cubed, firm tofu has about 100 calories
  • Soft tofu – 1/2 cup of soft or silken tofu has around 55 calories

Recipes can call for anywhere from 1/2 to 1 full cup of tofu total. So the tofu in your soup may add 100-200 calories or more to the recipe depending on the amount and type used.

Calories in Vegetables

Popular vegetable mix-ins for hot and sour soup include mushrooms, bamboo shoots, onions, carrots, bok choy, napa cabbage, baby corn, water chestnuts, and more. These vegetables are all relatively low in calories. Here are some estimates for common hot and sour soup veggies:

Vegetable Calories per 1/2 Cup
Mushrooms 12
Carrots 25
Bamboo Shoots 14
Baby Corn 15
Water Chestnuts 25
Bok Choy 9

When vegetables are included as smaller garnishes, they add minimal calories to the dish. If piled high as more of a veggie soup, their calories can add up to the tune of 50-100 calories or more.

Calories in Protein Additions

In addition to tofu, hot and sour soup can feature other protein ingredients like chicken, pork, beef, shrimp, duck or eggs. Here is an overview:

  • Chicken or Pork – A 3 ounce serving of cooked chicken or pork contains about 200 calories.
  • Beef – 3 ounces of lean beef packs around 175 calories.
  • Shrimp – 3 ounces of cooked shrimp has about 45 calories.
  • Duck – A 3 ounce serving of roasted duck meat contains around 275 calories.
  • Eggs – 1 scrambled egg has about 90 calories.

If using a larger portion of any of these protein additions, the calories can quickly escalate in the dish. A good sized serving of meat or seafood can easily tally 500 calories or more.

Calories in Seasonings and Oils

The seasonings and aromatic ingredients used to flavor hot and sour soup tend to be quite low in calories. For example:

  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil – 120 calories
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce – 10 calories
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ginger – 2 calories
  • 1 clove garlic – 4 calories
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar – 5 calories
  • 1 teaspoon Sichuan peppercorns – 5 calories
  • 1 tablespoon chili flakes – 20 calories

When used judiciously, these flavorful ingredients only contribute nominal calories to the dish.

Putting It All Together

Taking into account all the potential ingredients, a large bowl of hot and sour soup can range quite drastically in calories depending on the specifics:

  • Broth – 100-200 calories
  • Tofu – 100-200 calories
  • Vegetables – 50-100 calories
  • Protein – 0-500 calories
  • Seasonings – 50-150 calories

Factoring in all these components, a veggie-centric hot and sour soup made with vegetable broth, tofu and lots of mushrooms and greens might come in around 300-400 calories for a large bowl.

However, a protein-packed version made with chicken broth, pork, tofu and fewer veggies could easily deliver 600-800+ calories per heaping serving.

Somewhere in the middle, a moderately sized bowl with ingredients in balance would land in the 400-600 calorie range.

Variables that Impact Calorie Count

As shown above, the precise calorie count per bowl of hot and sour soup can vary substantially. Here are some of the factors that play a role in the calories:

  • Broth – Chicken broth adds more calories than vegetable broth.
  • Amount of protein – The more meat, tofu, eggs etc that are used, the higher the calories.
  • Quantity of vegetables – Vegetables are lower in calories than protein sources, so more veggies equals fewer calories.
  • Portion size – A heaping large bowl with extra helpings of all ingredients packs in more calories than a modest portion.
  • Thickeners – Some cooks use cornstarch slurries or roux to thicken the broth, adding minimal extra calories.
  • Oils – The amount of sesame oil or other oils used to sauté aromatics impacts calorie count.
  • Noodles or rice – Some hot and sour soups contain starchy carbs that significantly increase calories.

Being mindful of these factors when preparing hot and sour soup allows you to adjust the calories up or down as desired.

Low Calorie Hot and Sour Soup

To make a lower calorie hot and sour soup, follow these helpful guidelines:

  • Use vegetable broth as the base
  • Increase veggies like mushrooms, cabbage, celery, etc.
  • Limit oil to 1 teaspoon or less
  • Choose soft tofu and keep to 1/2 cup
  • Omit protein ingredients like chicken, pork or beef
  • Use fewer eggs, just 1-2
  • Skip noodles, rice or dumplings
  • Portion in small to moderate bowls

Following these tips can keep a bowl of hot and sour soup around 300 calories or less.

Sample Hot and Sour Soup Recipe (338 calories)

To make a delicious hot and sour soup for about 338 calories per serving, try this:


  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 8 ounces soft tofu, diced
  • 1 cup mixed mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup bamboo shoots
  • 1/2 cup cabbage, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon grated ginger
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon chili flakes
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2 green onions, sliced


  1. Heat broth to a simmer in a pot.
  2. Add tofu, mushrooms, bamboo shoots and cabbage. Cook for 5 minutes.
  3. In a small bowl, stir together vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, ginger, garlic and chili flakes.
  4. Slowly stir vinegar mixture into soup.
  5. Slowly drizzle in beaten eggs while stirring soup in one direction.
  6. Remove from heat. Top with green onions.

This lighter take on hot and sour soup provides a balance of vegetables, protein from the tofu and eggs, and seasoning from chili flakes and ginger. Each 1.5 cup serving comes out to around 338 calories.

High Calorie Hot and Sour Soup

On the opposite end of the spectrum, you can make a higher calorie hot and sour soup by including ingredients like:

  • Chicken broth as the base
  • Extra protein from pork, chicken, shrimp or duck
  • Higher amount of firm tofu
  • Less veggies relative to protein
  • More added oil
  • Addition of noodles or rice
  • Larger portion sizes

This combination of higher calorie ingredients can bring a bowl of hot and sour soup up to 700-900 calories or more.

Sample High Calorie Hot and Sour Soup Recipe (721 calories)

To make a protein and carb-packed hot and sour soup totaling around 721 calories per serving, follow this:


  • 1 quart chicken broth
  • 8 ounces firm tofu, diced
  • 3 ounces cooked shrimp, sliced
  • 1 cup mushrooms
  • 1/4 cup bamboo shoots
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon grated ginger
  • 1 teaspoon chili flakes
  • 1 cup cooked rice noodles
  • 2 green onions, sliced


  1. Bring chicken broth to a simmer.
  2. Add tofu, shrimp, mushrooms, bamboo shoots. Cook 5 minutes.
  3. Stir in vinegar, sesame oil, ginger and chili flakes.
  4. Drizzle egg into soup while stirring.
  5. Add cooked rice noodles.
  6. Top with green onions before serving.

The chicken broth, extra protein from shrimp and larger portion of tofu bring up the calorie count substantially. Each 1.5 cup serving of this heartier recipe contains about 721 calories.

Calories in Hot and Sour Soup at Restaurants

When dining out, hot and sour soup can also range quite a bit in its calorie content depending on the restaurant. Here are some estimated calories for a bowl of hot and sour soup from popular chains:

Restaurant Calories (1.5 cup serving)
Panda Express 220
Chinese Garden 300
PF Chang’s 370
Pei Wei 490

As you can see, calories range from 220 to 490 per average bowl depending on the restaurant. Some tips for ordering lower calorie hot and sour soup when eating out:

  • Opt for vegetarian hot and sour soup if available
  • Choose small or regular size over large
  • Avoid soups with added rice, noodles or dumplings
  • Request the broth-based soup instead of the thickened version
  • Ask for light oil or sauce

Being mindful of menu descriptions and using these tips can help minimize calories when enjoying this soup.


In summary, hot and sour soup can contain anywhere from 300-900+ calories per large bowl depending on the specific ingredients and preparation methods used. Paying attention to the type of broth, amount of protein versus vegetables, portion sizes, and other small tweaks allows you to adjust the calorie count up or down as desired. With a balance of nourishing ingredients and flavors, you can enjoy this classic soup while keeping calories under control.

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