I am a complete fan of soups. But I’d definitely say that Thai soups hit at a different level! The earthy and robust flavors that Thai style soups have are like a grand celebration for the palate. Also, because Soup Recipes are super easy and make for the most delish and filling, yet wholesome meals. One of my favorites from Thai cuisine is this Tom Yum Soup. It is a sour and spicy soup and my recipe is a vegetarian version made with veggies like carrots, French beans and button mushrooms.
Table of Contents
What is Tom Yum Soup
Tum Yum Soup, alternatively known as Tom Yam is one of the most popular soups from the Thai food culture. It is absolutely yummy.
I mean a dish has to be tasty if the name itself has the word ‘yum’ in it. Right? Well, jokes apart, here’s the literal meaning of the name of this dish:
Tom – This Thai word means ‘a process of boiling’
Yum or Yam – This Thai word means ‘mixed’
So, quite obvious, when put together, the name explains why this dish is a soup. Because it is usually a hot and sour variation of soup that is essentially made by boiling together ingredients in a flavorful broth.
A classic Thai Tom Yum Soup will also have a spicy paste called ‘nam prik pao’ in it. This special paste has a smoky touch to it and consists of shallots, garlic and roasted chilies. The bright orange color in the soup is also primarily because of this Thai chili condiment.
There are many variations of the Tom Yum Soup in Thailand, each of which has different main ingredients added to them, while the base remains the same.
Some also have coconut milk in it. Another quintessential preparation is the Tom Kha Soup, which is basically a Thai style coconut soup.
About This Tom Yum Soup
While a traditional Tom Yum Soup is usually a non-vegetarian one. My recipe is a vegetarian and vegan version of this classic and popular soup. I have added mushrooms and some veggies in it.
In this tom yum soup recipe I have used Thai ingredients like galangal, lemon grass, kaffir lime leaves and Thai chilies. Now I know these ingredients are not easily available in India. So I have mentioned substitutes for them in the notes section of the recipe card below.
However, do note that there will be major flavor changes in the soup if made with the substitute ingredients. Galangal, lemon grass, kaffir lime leaves are highly aromatic ingredients and their aroma profiles differ from each other.
Now for the mushrooms, I have used white button mushrooms as this is the only variety of mushrooms I get here. You can even use shiitake, oyster or portobello mushrooms or even dried variety of mushrooms.
When we go to dine out in restaurants having Asian cuisine, then veg tom yum soup is one of the soups I end up ordering. This is a healthy soup and excellent for cold and coughs.
I started making this soup some months back referring to a few cookbooks and youtube videos. Occasionally I make Thai curries and I get the Thai herbs and spices from market. So when these Thai herbs and spices remain, I end up making Thai noodles, Thai stir fries and Thai soups.
Vegetarian tom yum soup is best served hot, especially during monsoons or in cold weather. You can even have it as a starter to a Thai meal.
How to make Tom Yum Soup
Prep Veggies, Herbs
1. Firstly wash 200 grams of mushrooms very well in water. Then slice them. Also chop 1 small carrot, 5 to 6 french beans, slice 1 to 2 shallots or pearl onions and finely chop 2 to 3 garlic cloves.
2. Then rinse the lemongrass stalks and remove the outer first or two layers. These layers are stiff and hard layers. Discard them or you can add them in your tea or any veg stock that you make.
3. Smash the inner stem lightly with a knife and then slice the lemongrass. Do note that if you do not have lemongrass stalks, then you can use 1 long lemongrass leaf. Just tie it around itself and then add in the soup.
4. Peel 1.5 inch galangal and slice thinly. Galangal is rough and not easy to slice, so some pressure is required while slicing.
5. Take 6 small Thai chilies and smash each one lightly. Thai chilies can be added less or more as per your choice.
6. Now slice them diagonally in large pieces.
Sauté Aromatics, Veggies, Mushrooms
7. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a pan. Add 2 tablespoons sliced shallots and ½ teaspoon finely chopped garlic.
8. Sauté for a minute on low to low-medium flame.
9. Add the veggies and mushrooms. You can add your choice of mix veggies to the soup, but do add mushrooms as they give a nice taste and texture in the soup.
10. Mix well and saute for a minute.
11. Then add 3 cups water. You can also use homemade veg stock.
12. Now add the sliced lemongrass stalks, galangal and Thai chilies.
13. Tear 3 to 4 kaffir lime leaves and then add them.
14. Season with salt as per taste and mix well. Do add less salt as we will also be adding soy sauce later.
Cook Tom Yum Soup
15. Cover the pan with the lid and simmer on low to medium flame till the veggies are done.
16. Do check at intervals when the veggies are being cooked.
17. Cook till the veggies are tender and cooked well.
18. Then add ½ teaspoon sugar. You can even use palm sugar or jaggery or coconut sugar.
19. Add 1 teaspoon of soy sauce. Mix very well and simmer tom yum soup for a minute.
20. Switch off the flame and then add 2 tablespoons of lemon juice. For a less sour taste, you can add 1 tablespoon of lemon juice.
21. Lastly, add 2 to 3 tablespoons of coriander leaves (cilantro leaves). Stir and check the seasonings. If required you can add more salt, lemon juice or soy sauce or sugar.
While serving tom yum soup, remember to remove the lemongrass stalks, red chilies, kaffir lime leaves and galangal. These cannot be chewed as they are stringy and dense. So do make sure not to finely slice or chop them.
22. Serve Thai Tom Yum soup hot.
If you are looking for more Soup recipes then do check:
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Tom Yum Soup
- 2 tablespoons oil (use any neutral flavored oil. i used sunflower oil)
- 2 tablespoons sliced shallots or pearl onions or small onions
- ½ teaspoon finely chopped garlic
- ⅓ cup chopped carrots
- ¼ cup chopped french beans
- 2 cups chopped white button mushrooms or 200 grams white button mushrooms
- 1.5 inch galangal
- 2 lemon grass stalks
- 3 to 4 kaffir lime leaves
- 6 thai chillies or add as required
- 3 cups water
- salt as required
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon soy sauce
- ½ teaspoon sugar or add as per taste
- 2 to 3 tablespoons coriander leaves
- Firstly rinse and slice or chop all the veggies. Also, peel and finely chop garlic.
- Then rinse the lemon grass stalks and remove the outer first or two layers. These layers are stiff and hard layers. discard them or you can add them in your tea or any veg stock that you make.
- Smash it lightly with a knife and then slice the lemon grass. Do note that if you do not have lemon grass stalks, then you can use 1 long lemon grass leaf. Just tie it around itself and then add in the soup.
- Peel 1.5 inch galangal and slice thinly. Galangal is rough and not easy to slice, so some pressure is required while slicing.
- Take 6 small thai chilies and smash each one lightly. Thai chilies can be added less or more as per your choice.
- Now slice the chilies diagonally in large pieces.
making tom yum soup
- Heat oil in a pan. Add 2 tablespoons sliced shallots and ½ teaspoon finely chopped garlic.
- Saute for a minute on low to low-medium flame.
- Add the chopped veggies and sliced mushrooms. You can add your choice of mix veggies to the soup.
- Mix well and saute for a minute.
- Then add 3 cups water. You can also use homemade veg stock.
- Now add the sliced lemon grass stalks, galangal and thai chilies.
- Tear 3 to 4 kaffir lime leaves and then add them.
- Season with salt as per requirement and mix well. Do add less salt as we will also be adding soy sauce later.
cooking tom yum soup
- Cover the pan with lid and simmer on low to medium flame till veggies are done.
- Do check at intervals when the veggies are being cooked.
- Cook till the veggies are tender and cooked well.
- Then add ½ teaspoon sugar. You can even use palm sugar or jaggery or coconut sugar.
- Add 1 teaspoon soy sauce.
- Mix very well and simmer tom yum soup for a minute.
- Switch off flame and then add 2 tablespoons lemon juice. For a less sour taste, you can add 1 tablespoon lemon juice.
- Lastly add 2 to 3 tablespoons coriander leaves. Stir and check the seasonings. If required you can add more salt, lemon juice or soy sauce or sugar.
- While serving thai tom yum soup remove the lemon grass stalks, red chilies, kaffir lime leaves and galangal. These cannot be chewed as they are stringy and dense. So do make sure not to finely slice or chop them.
- Serve tom yum soup hot.
- Galangal – ginger (in recipe, add 1 inch ginger)
- Kaffir lime leaves – lime zest or lemon zest (zest from 1 lemon or 1 lime)
- Lemon grass stalks – lemon zest (zest from 1 lemon)
- Small thai red chilies – medium hot to hot green chilies or fresh red chilies (add 1 or 2)
Nutrition Info (Approximate Values)
This Tom Yum Soup post from the archives first published in July 2017 has been republished and updated on January 2023.