Hot and Sour Chicken Soup Recipe (Cambodian Sour Soup)

Hot and sour chicken soup

This hot and sour chicken soup recipe is rich, tangy, and spicy, and takes less than 30 minutes to cook. At home, we prepare this soup on chilly winter days. However, its distinct, hearty flavor and simple preparation steps make this soup an excellent lunch or dinner dish in any time of year. In fact, this sour soup is one of the easiest Cambodian food recipes to make, which makes it perfect for beginner cooks. The ingredients should be easy enough to find anywhere in the US — all you need is a chicken, hot and sour ingredients like tamarind and chilli, and a few more commonly available spices and condiments.

Hot and sour chicken soup

Hot and Sour Chicken Soup Recipe

Thida Koeut
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Course dinner, lunch, Main Course
Cuisine Cambodian
Servings 4
Calories 1200 kcal


  • Butcher knife
  • 2 Cutting board 1 for meat, 1 for vegetables
  • Large pot


  • Chicken, whole
  • 1 stalk Lemongrass
  • 1 Galangal 2-knob
  • 5 leaves Lime tree leaf
  • 3 cloves Garlic
  • Chilli to taste
  • ½ White onion
  • 2 tbsp Tamarind be sure to use sour, NOT sweet tamarind
  • 2 stalks Green onion
  • bunch Cilantro
  • ½ tbsp Salt fish sauce or soy sauce are alternatives to salt
  • ¼ tbsp MSG
  • ¼ tbsp Sugar


  • Using a butcher knife, clean and chop chicken into bits no longer than 2 inches long.
    Chopped chicken for hot and sour soup
  • Fill half a large sauce pan with water and set to boil over high heat.
  • Cut lemongrass stalks into 2-inch pieces and set aside. 
  • Shred the lime tree leaf into small strands and put aside.
  • Cut the galangal into thin slices and set aside. 
  • Cut the garlic cloves into thin slices and set aside. 
  • Cut one chilli into small slices and set aside (use as much chillies as you like to make it hot). 
  • Dice the white onion and set aside.
    Hot and sour chicken soup ingredients
  • Add the chopped lemongrass, lime tree leaf, chilli, garlic, and sliced galangal to the water before it boils. 
    Boiling hot and sour soup ingredients
  • When the water boils, add the chicken to the pot and allow to boil for two minutes and reduce the heat to medium. 
  • Add MSG, salt (or fish sauce/soy sauce, to taste) and a little bit of sugar to the broth and stir. 
  • Allow the broth to simmer for 15 minutes (or longer to get a richer chicken stock). 
    Hot and sour chicken soup simmering
  • In a small bowl, dilute the tamarind paste with a few tablespoons of boiling water, which you can take from the pot. Add the mixture to the broth, but be sure to throw out the tamarind pits. Let the soup simmer for five more minutes.
  • Chop some fresh green onions and cilantro, and add these to the soup. 
  • Serve soup hot with a bowl of white rice. 


Calories: 1200kcalCarbohydrates: 59.6gProtein: 93.8gFat: 58.1gSaturated Fat: 20.5gSodium: 1262mgPotassium: 1489mgFiber: 8.5gSugar: 21.6gCalcium: 243mgIron: 15mg
Keyword Chicken, Comfort, Under 30
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

How do I make hot and sour chicken soup sour?

To make this hot and sour chicken soup sour, you can use tamarind. In this recipe, sour tamarind is the ingredient that adds tartness to the chicken. Tamarind is a pod-like fruit that’s widely grown in the tropics, including most Southeast Asian countries, and is a staple ingredient in Cambodian food. Depending on the stage of ripeness, tamarind’s taste can range from sweet and sour to tangy. For this hot and sour chicken soup recipe, you should use tangy tamarind (not the sweet kind). Sour tamarind is widely available in supermarkets across the US, and is usually sold as a paste, without the shell. To add tamarind to the hot and sour chicken soup, you can follow the steps in our recipe.

If you’re unable to source tamarind in your area, lime juice will still do the trick. For our hot and sour soup recipe, we would use the juice of a single lime as a substitute for tamarind. However, you can add more lime juice if you like the soup to be tangier.

How do I make hot and sour chicken soup spicy?

To make this hot and sour soup spicy, you can use chilli peppers. Chillies are the essential “heat-maker” in Cambodian food and in cuisines throughout the world, and works perfectly in our chicken soup recipe. Depending on your tolerance for heat, you can add anywhere between one and five chillies to this soup. A single chilli will produce just enough heat to rouse your senses and warm you up on a chilly day. Five chillies, on the other hand, can be quite punishing if you’re not used to spicy food.

Are there different types of hot and sour soup?

There are many different types of hot and sour soup. Perhaps the most popular type is the Chinese hot and sour soup, which is typically made with bamboo shoots, sesame oil, shiitake mushrooms, and firm tofu. However, many other permutations of hot and sour soup exist throughout Asia and beyond, and in this recipe, we described a little-known gem in Cambodian food. Our hot and sour chicken soup recipe is far less complex than its Chinese namesake. But on the upside, it’s much easier and faster to make, and rewards its cooks with a rich, hearty broth and an unforgettable, zesty flavor.

Also try: Beef shank and papaya soup

What do you serve with hot and sour soup?

You can serve steamed rice with hot and sour soup. Steamed white rice is a quintessential grain and side dish in Cambodian food. In particular, a bed of rice is typically served as a side for most soups that don’t have noodles in them. The soup is then added to the rice bowl, several spoonfuls at a time, and eaten together with the rice.

Can I freeze hot and sour chicken soup?

Yes, you can freeze hot and sour chicken soup. Simply wait for the leftovers to cool down to room temperature, then pour them into tupperware (glass containers are ideal) and place in the freezer. The hot and sour chicken soup should preserve its flavor for about three months in the freezer.

How do you make hot and sour soup less sour?

To make hot and sour soup less sour, use less of the tangy ingredient. In our hot and sour chicken soup recipe, the tartness comes from tamarind. You can slash the amount of tamarind you’re adding in half and see if that brings the acidity down to the level you prefer. Quick tip: don’t forget to taste the soup while you cook it, and add the sour and spicy ingredients (tamarind and chilli) in small quantities, while continuing to taste the broth. By tasting the soup as you add tartness or spice to it, you can calibrate the flavor profile to your preference

Hot and Sour Chicken Soup: Parting Words

We hope you’ve enjoyed out hot and sour chicken soup recipe.

If you’ve made it already, or you know of an alternative you’d like to share with our readers, please leave a comment below.

Thida Koeut

Thida Koeut, born near Kampot, Cambodia, is the chef and author behind Thida's Kitchen. Immersed in Cambodian gastronomy from childhood, she later managed a renowned Danish-French fusion restaurant in Kampot, mastering European culinary techniques. Her hands-on farming experience deepened her connection to authentic Cambodian ingredients. Now based in New Westminster, British Columbia, Thida seamlessly blends her rich heritage with global flavors, presenting them to the world through her online publication.

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