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General Tso’s Chicken Soup

Everyone’s favorite takeout, in soup form. A beautifully spiced soup with tender chicken, vegetables, and fluffy rice, General Tso’s Chicken Soup is a main-dish-worthy meal.

General Tso's Chicken Soup in a bowl, ready to eat

Everyone has some quirky little talent that’s unique to them. And I guess mine is making soup out of just about anything. Not just pouring water into something to make it liquidy, lol, but creating a soup that tastes like its inspirational dish, only in a big, comforting bowl of cozy soup. I’ve even made soup out of cheesecake — actual soup, not a smoothie — but that’s a story for another day.

My neighborhood doesn’t have a lot of options for Chinese takeout, and when options occasionally pop up, they disappear just as quickly. I don’t know why that is. Instead, we attract a lot of Mexican cuisine and BBQ joints, which you’ll never catch me complaining about, ever (tacos!).

But it does mean that when I get cravings for something distinctly Asian, I’m left to my own devices. Which is why you’ll find a lot of Thai-inspired dishes on this blog: if I want Tom Kha Gai, I have to cook it up myself

Steps for making General Tso's Chicken Soup

The inspiration for this soup actually came about not from a takeout craving, but while browsing the shelves at the grocery store: I saw a bottle of General Tso’s marinade, and {ding!} the light bulb suddenly clicked on.

Testing the homemade sauce was the best part: it had to be thick and flavor-charged, spicy-sweet, and bold enough to stand up to the addition of broth. The sauce is just … yum. You can see from the photo above that it’s thick and glossy, and you really just want to start pouring it over stuff right away.

Pot of General Tso's Chicken Soup

I also reviewed a lot of General Tso’s chicken recipes before diving into experimentation, and found them all entirely too fussy. I get it: classic recipes work because they fixate on each ingredient, and build layers of flavor throughout the cooking process.

But when you want soup, and you want it NOW, shortcuts are okay in my book. So, I condensed what is generally a three-step, three-pan(!) process into a one-pot preparation.

You’ll need to pay a bit of attention to the chicken — which is shallowly pan-fried rather than deep fried — as you’ll want to deglaze the pot afterwards, but the recipe overall is weeknight easy, and hearty enough to stand as an entree, with a side of crusty bread or a green salad.

Two bowls of General Tso's Chicken Soup

Make-ahead tips

Like most soups, General Tso’s Chicken Soup benefits from a rest in the fridge, where the flavors further develop and meld. It’s absolutely not required, as it still tastes great right off the stove, but if you’re like me and like to cook up a batch of soup on Sunday for later in the week, this one’s a goody. However:

Do hold off adding the rice until you’re ready to serve. Otherwise, the soup will become a thick stew during its refrigerated slumber. Which is not a bad thing if you love soups you can eat with a fork, lol.

But note that when it’s reached that point of a rice-thickened stew, it’s very difficult to revert it back to a spoons-required soup. Adding more broth or water throws off the balance of the other seasonings and weakens its flavor. You’ll probably be disappointed.

So, just stir in the cooked rice later, and all will be golden.

Close-up of General Tso's Chicken Soup

I’ve been testing this soup all summer, and I have to say, now that we’ve finally (finally!) hit some truly Octoberish weather, the full cozy impact of this soup has hit home. For soup lovers, this is way better than takeout!

Karen xo

Close-up of General Tso's Chicken Soup
Print Recipe
5 from 3 votes

General Tso's Chicken Soup

Your favorite takeout in soup form! The perfect blend of spicy, sweet and savory, this soup hearty and flavorful, and hits the spot on chilly evenings.
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Total Time50 mins
Course: Soup
Cuisine: American
Keyword: general tso chicken, soup
Servings: 4 people
Calories: 320kcal
Author: Karen Gibson

Ingredients

for the chicken:

  • 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
  • 1 large egg white
  • 1 tablespoon low sodium soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1 pound chicken thighs, trimmed of fat
  • vegetable oil

for the soup:

  • vegetable oil
  • 1/2 onion, diced (medium/large)
  • 1 small red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 small head broccoli, florets separated, and stems reserved and chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 4 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons hoisin sauce
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh ginger or ginger paste
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1-4 teaspoons sambal oelek or chile garlic sauce (use less for mild heat; more for additonal heat)
  • 2-3 cups cooked rice (white or brown)
  • 3 scallions, thinly sliced

Instructions

marinate the chicken

  • In a medium bowl, whisk together the sesame oil, egg white, soy sauce, and cornstarch until smooth. Add the chicken, turning the pieces to coat them completely in the sauce. Leave to marinate for 15 minutes.

prepare the soup

  • In 4-5 qt Dutch oven or soup pot, pour enough vegetable oil to cover the bottom of the pan in a very shallow pool. Turn heat to medium-high. When the oil is actively shimmering carefully lay the marinated chicken pieces in the oil. Don't crowd the pieces - you might need to cook the chicken in two batches. Let the chicken cook completely through, turning one or two times. Transfer the cooked chicken to a plate lined with paper towels to drain. (Repeat with the second batch of chicken if necessary.) Reduce heat to medium.
  • If there are chicken bits (fond) stuck to the pan, deglaze the pot before proceeding. Use a splash of the chicken broth or white wine to scrape up the bits. If there's a lot of fond, remove some from the pot and discard (this is up to you).
  • Add another tablespoon of the vegetable oil and let it heat until shimmering. Add the onion, peppers, broccoli stems (not florets), and saute until all are soft, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic and stir until fragrant (just 30 seconds or so).
  • Add 1 cup of the chicken broth, the soy sauce, hoisin, ginger, cornstarch, and sambal oelek, and stir well. Let simmer for several minutes, until thick and glossy. Tip in the remaining 3 cups of chicken broth, and bring the soup to a gentle simmer. Stir in the broccoli florets. Adjust the heat so that the soup bubbling very gently, and cook for 10 minutes.
  • Reduce the heat to low, and dump in the cooked rice, stirring thoroughly to mix. Taste the soup - it should not need salt, but if you want it slightly sweeter, add another teaspoon or two of hoisin (completely optional).
  • When the chicken is cool enough to handle, slice or snip with kitchen shears into spoon-sized pieces. Add to the soup. Top with the scallions, and serve immediately.

Nutrition

Calories: 320kcal
Nutritional information, if shown, is provided as a courtesy only, and is not to be taken as medical information or advice. The nutritional values of your preparation of this recipe are impacted by several factors, including, but not limited to, the ingredient brands you use, any substitutions or measurement changes you make, and measuring accuracy.

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General Tso's Chicken Soup - Recipe at SoupAddict.comGeneral Tso's Chicken Soup - Recipe at SoupAddict.com

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Recipe Rating




Ann

Monday 31st of December 2018

1/4 cup plus 2 Tablespoons cornstarch seems like a lot. It makes more of a paste than a sauce. Is this correct?

SoupAddict

Monday 31st of December 2018

Good question -- Yes, it's correct. This is actually for the marinating paste that coats the chicken before pan frying -- you're not cooking directly with that total amount of cornstarch as a sauce (because, yes, that would be a concrete mess, lol). If you're concerned about the quantity, you can start with a 1/4 cup. Just make sure that the marinade is thick enough to cling to the chicken, so that it creates a sort of fried chicken effect when cooked.

Katy

Tuesday 20th of November 2018

We were really in the mood for takeout during the recent ice storm, but that wasn't going didn't happen with everyone lined up stuck on our street LOL. But then I remembered this soup from the email. We had most of the stuff on hand. All I can say is we need to make more soup at home, because this was just awesome. We were craving Chinese takeout, and this totally hit the spot!

Ashley P.

Tuesday 6th of November 2018

I made this soup last weekend. I wasn't sure what to expect, but, omg ... it was so good. You're right about the sauce - I just stood there nibbling at it with a spoon until I remembered it's supposed to be for the soup. haha. Definitely going into rotation!

Jolia

Tuesday 30th of October 2018

All of these are beautiful soup! I don’t know which I like most! With warm weather finally here (in San Diego, at least), I’m sure to being making many if not all of these over the next weeks and months.