Chinese Vegetarian Soup Dumplings Recipe (Su Xiao Long Bao)

©2020 by Sandy Gov from @sandylaoart. Photography by Sandy Gov.

Chinese soup dumplings are such a fun and delicious meal. Foodie and creator, Sandy says half the fun is lifting the soup dumpling from the bamboo steamer without tearing it. If it does tear, no worries. It’s like a game and meal all-in-one. These vegetarian soup dumplings contain all the flavor and fun without the meat. 

Though already delicious on its own, xiao long bao is traditionally paired with Chinese black vinegar and julienned ginger. If you don’t have Chinese black vinegar on hand, balsamic vinegar makes for a quick substitute with this soup dumpling recipe. Though slightly sweeter, the acidity still balances the mouth-watering vegetarian soup dumpling well. Enjoy!

If you’re new to Chinese cooking, find all the speciality tools you need with this Chinese Soup Dumpling Kit.

Vegetarian Soup Dumplings Recipe

Prep Time: 3 hours
Cook Time: 1 hour
Servings: 28 Dumplings


1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
⅔ cup boiling water
2 tsp. vegetable oil

1 inch knob fresh ginger, peeled and sliced
1 green onion
2 ½ cups vegetable broth
1 ½ teaspoon agar agar powder, (included in kit)

½ cup white mushrooms, minced 
⅓ cup firm tofu, cubed (about ¼ inch in size) or crumbled
1 egg, lightly beaten, fried and diced
3 tablespoons corn (fresh or frozen)
3 tablespoons carrots, diced
½ inch knob fresh ginger, peeled and grated
1 green onion, thinly sliced
⅓ teaspoon white pepper powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1½ teaspoons sugar
1½ teaspoons pure sesame oil
1 tablespoon Shaoxing Chinese rice wine (or substitute dry sherry)

vegetarian soup dumplings recipe ingredients

Step 1: Make the Dumpling Dough

Place flour in a medium bowl and use a spoon to create a deep well. Add oil and just-boiled water in the center of the well and mix with a fork until the dough is shaggy.

Continue to mix by hand inside the bowl until all the loose flour is pressed together into a ball.

Transfer to a clean surface and knead for 5 minutes. The dough should be smooth and stretchy like soft modeling clay.

Place the dough in a plastic bag and seal it well, pushing out all of the excess air as you close the bag. Set aside and let the dough rest at room temperature for 1 hour before using.

chinese soup dumpling dough in mixing bowl

Step 2: Make the Soup

In a small saucepan, bring ginger, green onion, and vegetable broth to a boil. Lower heat and simmer until broth reduces, 6-8 minutes. Discard solids and salt to taste.

Measure out 1 ¾ cup  of the cooled broth and return to the saucepan. Whisk the agar agar into the broth until all the powder dissolves before turning on the heat to avoid clumping. Bring the broth to a boil over medium-high then turn off the heat.

Pour mixture into something close to an 9” x 13” baking pan or shallow dish to make a thin layer that will cool quickly. Something knife safe is handy so you can cut directly in the pan later – less clean up!

Refrigerate mixture for 20 minutes until it is completely cool and set. Uncovered or covered both work.

Run the bamboo filling spatula along the edges to loosen. If your pan or dish is not knife safe, remove broth jelly from the pan to a cutting surface. Chop the broth jelly into ⅛” cubes, and return to the refrigerator until needed.

vegetarian soup dumpling broth cubes with agar agar powder

Step 3: Mix the Filling

In a medium bowl, combine all filling ingredients and mix well.

Add the refrigerated broth jelly cubes that were created and be sure the cubes are mixed in evenly.

Store filling in the refrigerator until you’re ready to assemble.

vegetarian soup dumpling filling

Step 4: Assemble the Dumplings

After 1 hour, remove the dough from the plastic bag. Cut the ball in half and put the other half back in the plastic bag and seal well.

On a clean surface, roll out the dough into a 14” log, using the ruler below. Cut into 14 equal pieces and place under a damp towel so they don’t dry out.

One at a time, flatten each disk with the heel of your palm and roll out with the dough roller until it’s paper-thin and 4” in diameter.  Pick up and rotate the dough often to keep it from sticking.

Tip: Avoid rolling out wrappers in batches so that the thin dough don’t dry out. Fill and assemble the dumplings immediately.

rolling our xiao long bao dough wrappers

Delicately take the wrapper and hold it in your slightly cupped hand or place it on the counter. Using the bamboo spatula, scoop 1 heaping tablespoon of filling and place in the center.

Use both sets of index fingers and thumbs to pleat and pinch the rim of the wrapper repeatedly to form a closed satchel. Pinch and twist the top so the soup stays sealed inside. Place finished dumplings on parchment paper until ready to steam. 

Chinese Vegetarian Soup Dumplings

Step 5: Steam the Dumplings

Place the bamboo steamer in a large pan and fill with about 2” of water.

Line the bamboo steamer trays with parchment liners and place the assembled dumplings in the steamer about ½” apart.

Steam each batch of dumplings over boiling water for 10 minutes. Serve immediately.

Serve immediately, but be careful—the soup is scalding hot!

Chinese Vegetarian Soup Dumplings served in bamboo steamer

Photography by Sandy Gov @sandylaoart.

How do you eat xiao long bao?

There is no right or wrong way but you’ll definitely need a soup spoon to cradle the gentle soup dumpling. Some people like to poke a hole, drain the broth into the spoon to sip, then eat the dumpling separately. A different method Sandy recommends is nibbling off the top to release the hot steam, allowing the Chinese soup dumpling to slightly cool, then enjoy it all in one bite.

How do you like to slurp up your Chinese soup dumplings? 

Chinese Vegetarian Soup Dumplings Recipe

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