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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
A bowl of hulatang
Alternative namesSpicy soup, Hot Pepper soup
Place of originChina
Region or stateHenan, Shaanxi
Main ingredientsBeef broth, capsicum, black pepper
Simplified Chinese胡辣汤
Traditional Chinese胡辣湯
Literal meaningpeppery and spicy soup

Hulatang, also known as hot pepper soup or spicy soup, is a kind of Chinese traditional soup originated in Henan Province, and became popularized in both Henan and Shaanxi Province. Chinese immigrants have introduced it to the United States, where it is known as "spicy soup". It can be divided into two different versions in Henan: Xiaoyaozhen version (from a town near Zhoukou City) and Beiwudu version. As its name—literally the characters 'pepper' + 'capsicum/chilli' + 'soup'—implies, capsicum and black pepper are put into the broth made by beef soup.


The exact origin of the soup cannot be accurately pinpointed now, but since the pepper, the main ingredient of the soup was not introduced to China until the Tang Dynasty. The soup was dubbed came into being after that, around Song Dynasty.

One theory is that soup with pepper originated from the Huizong period in the late Northern Song Dynasty. Legend has it that Emperor Huizong of the Song Dynasty was addicted to eating, drinking, and playing, which filled the whole country with extravagance.

At that time, there was a young eunuch in the palace, who was deeply loved by Emperor Huizong of Song. Once, a young eunuch was allowed by Emperor Huizong of the Song Dynasty to visit the temple and came to Shaolin Monastery in Songshan. The abbot in the temple was very enthusiastic about the celebrity in front of the emperor. When he saw the young eunuch's face red and ears red, lips thirsty, and food scarce, he presented a bowl of Shaolin Temple's unique "hangover soup". After drinking, the young eunuch felt refreshed and very happy, so he drank for several days. Before leaving, he asked the abbot for a prescription for "hangover soup".

Later on, the young eunuch came to Wudang Mountain to play. The leader of Wudang Mountain prepared the "Xiaoshi Tea" from Wudang Mountain for the young eunuch. After drinking it for a few days, the young eunuch's body returned to normal, and even her face became much rosy and fair. The young eunuch was very grateful for the "Xiaoshi Tea" and asked for it again.

After returning to the palace, the young eunuch handed these two prescriptions to the Imperial Buttery to develop a bowl of soup with a comprehensive color, aroma, and flavor. The taste was even more fragrant, and it could also sober up and refresh the mind, appetizer, and strengthen the spleen. This bowl of soup was presented to the emperor. When the emperor asked what the soup was called, the little eunuch had a brainstorm and replied, "prolong life soup".

After the "Jingkang incident", the little eunuch drifted to the folk and opened a breakfast shop. A guest accidentally sprinkled pepper into the pot. Unexpectedly, the taste was more rich and full-bodied. Later, it was named "Hulatang".

Along the decades, the soup has evolved into a good many variations in different parts of China, according to local people's flavor and preferences, but the most basic and characteristic thing about the soup has never changed, that it is heavily seasoned with pepper and the texture of the soup is outstandingly thick and sticky. In addition to pepper, some herbs and flavourings such as ginger, aniseed and fennel are added into the boiling soup to improve the flavour and make it spicy and hot.

In modern China, especially for northerners, hulatang is a popular breakfast dish. A bowl of soup usually[when?][where?] starts at four Yuan, but can be more expensive depending on the fame of the restaurant, quality and variety of its ingredients.


A restaurant specializing in Hulatang in Zhengzhou

Beiwudu Hulatang[edit]

The Hulatang in Beiwudu is boiled with dozens of spices, thus the color of the soup is dark. And it tastes very hot because of the black peppers. Another name of Beiwudu Hulatang is "eight treasures soup", which means there are many ingredients in it. Usually the ingredients includes gluten, kelp, vermicelli, peanut, pepper and so on.

Xiaoyaozhen Hulatang[edit]

The main difference between the soups is the usage of different spices. People can not tell what exact the proportional difference is between Beiwudu and Xiaoyaozhen. But the Xiaoyaozhen hot pepper soup is more prevailing as people in Xiaoyaozhen migrate to other place. Xiaoyaozhen used to be an important town because of the prosperity of canal transportation in Song Dynasty. So, the Hulatong spreads with those people who earn their living outside their hometown. And Xiaoyaozhen is one of the most important genre of Hulatang now.

Xi'an Hulatang with Meatballs[edit]

Xi'an Hulatang also has a long history, it develops as people migrate between Shaanxi and Henan. People in Xi'an change some  ingredients in the soup. They put meatballs, potatoes, carrots, celery and many other vegetables into the soup which makes it suits the local flavor.[1] Xi'an Hulatang sometimes is served with chopped-up leavened flatbread.

Kaifeng Hulatang[edit]

As a kind of sauce, Hulatang will be put together with bean Douhua served with sauce when people eat it. It has the heat and spicy taste of pepper and the sweet and refreshing taste of bean Douhua served with sauce, which can clear away heat and fire. So when people eat bean Douhua served with sauce, they will be accompanied by a small plate of Hulatang.

Xingyang spicy soup[edit]

Xingyang Spicy Soup is a delicious broth made from a blend of various natural Chinese medicinal herbs in specific proportions, combined with pepper and chili, and simmered with a bone broth base. Its characteristics include a rich flavor, bright color, thick and sticky texture, and a spicy and tasty profile, making it a popular breakfast dish among the people of Xingyang. This soup is spicy, aromatic, nutritious, and appetizing. The main ingredients include spicy soup mix, pepper, chili, cooked mutton or beef, bone broth, wheat gluten, flour, vermicelli, and wood ear mushrooms. It is often enjoyed with deep-fried dough sticks, steamed buns, scallion pancakes, pan-fried flatbreads, and layered flatbreads. Especially when mixed with tofu pudding, known as "Two Mixed," it is highly favored by the locals. As the poem goes: "Cooked at dawn, the spicy soup flows through the intestines all day, allowing for carefree enjoyment."[2]

Huaiyang spicy soup[edit]

Huaiyang's Zhu Mazi Braised Meat Spicy Soup, historically known as "Zhu Family Spicy Soup," has an interesting backstory. Zhu Mazi, whose real name was Zhu Jinzhang, was a resident of Huaiyang. His ancestors began selling spicy soup on the west side of the North Cross Street during the Song Dynasty. Legend has it that during the early days of Emperor Zhu Yuanzhang's reign in the Ming Dynasty, he passed through Huaiyang after several days without food. Exhausted and weak, he collapsed at the North Cross Street, where an old man surnamed Zhu rescued him and offered him a bowl of spicy soup. After drinking it, Zhu Yuanzhang immediately felt revived, drank three bowls in a row, and praised it as "excellent soup, excellent soup." After ascending to the throne, Zhu Yuanzhang summoned the old man to the imperial kitchen to be in charge of the soups. From then on, the Zhu family's spicy soup gained fame, and the Zhu family made it their livelihood.

During the Republic of China era, Zhu Mazi inherited the soup-making skills from his ancestors and, through dedicated effort, created the braised meat spicy soup, thus it became known as "Zhu Mazi Braised Meat Spicy Soup." This soup is characterized by its balanced consistency, moderate salty-sweet taste, tender meat, and a tangy, spicy flavor with an aromatic scent. It is said that "a morning drink of spicy soup leaves a fragrant burp till evening." Visitors to Huaiyang, as well as Huaiyang natives returning from Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan, all eagerly look forward to enjoying "Zhu Mazi Spicy Soup" and speak highly of it.


The main ingredients include cooked beef, beef soup, flour, vermicelli, kelp, spinach, pepper, ginger, salt, vinegar and sesame oil.[3]

Value and influence in modern time[edit]

Hulatang is not only a kind of food, but also can bring great economic benefits to the local people. With the continuous development of Hulatang industry, more and more people begin to enter this industry and engage in the production, sales and service of Hulatang. This not only brings more employment opportunities to the local area, but also promotes the development of the local economy.

The industrialization of producing the Hulatang brings a lot of benefits to normal people. For example, people in Xiaoyaozhen now pack the ingredients and spices up and sell them to the people all around the world through E-commerce platforms. To make the little packages, the demanded quantity of beef and mutton, as well as the quantity of workers in Xiaoyaozhen raised dramatically. The industrialization of Hulatang has provided lots of jobs for the residents. The government are also trying to help those people in poverty start up their own business of selling the soup.[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "西安胡辣汤和河南胡辣汤有什么区别?". www.sohu.com. 2017-12-01. Retrieved 2018-11-21.
  2. ^ "荥阳胡辣汤". 2023-06-27.
  3. ^ 美食名吃——胡辣汤 (in Chinese). Retrieved 2009-03-10.[permanent dead link]
  4. ^ "一碗胡辣汤熬出大产业,河南这个县将近10万人遍布大江南北!". www.sohu.com. 2017-11-17. Retrieved 2018-11-21.