Easy Tom Yum Soup Recipe

Thai Tom Yum Soup
Thai Yum Soup. D.Schmidt for About.com
  • 01 of 10

    Gather your ingredients

    Measuring Stock into Soup Pot for Tom Yum Soup
    The Spruce / Darlene A. Schmidt
    • 6 cups chicken stock (or vegetable stock if vegetarian) 
    • 1 to 2 stalks fresh lemongrass  
    • 3 to 4 makrut lime leaves (or 1/2 teaspoon grated lime zest)
    • 3 to 4 cloves garlic (minced)
    • 3 tablespoons fish sauce 
    • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
    • 1 fresh red chili (1/8 to 1/3 teaspoon dry chili flakes)
    • 12 to 16 medium shrimp 
    • 5 shiitake mushrooms (chopped) 
    • 1 cup cherry tomatoes (chopped) 
    • 2 cups bok choy (chopped) 
    • 1 cup broccoli (chopped)
    • 1 medium yellow bell pepper (chopped) 
    • 1 dash pepper 
    • 1/2 can full-fat coconut milk
    • 1/2 cup fresh basil
    • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro 
    • Optional: 1 teaspoon brown sugar
    • Optional: 2 teaspoon grated ginger
    • Optional: 4 tablespoons soy sauce
    • Optional: 2 cups cubed firm tofu 
    Continue to 2 of 10 below.
  • 02 of 10

    Prepare Lemongrass and Add to Broth

    preparing fresh lemongrass
    The Spruce / Darlene A. Schmidt

    Add the broth to a big pot and let it heat up at medium heat.

    The first ingredient you're adding into the broth is lemongrass. If you were able to find it fresh, here is how to successfully clean it:

    1. Pull off any outer leaves that are dry or overly fibrous.
    2. Cut off the bulb and discard.
    3. Thinly slice up the lower 1/3 of the stalk. 
    4. Slice the upper stalk into 4-inch lengths.

    Add your prepared lemongrass to the stock and bring soup to a boil.

    If you could only find frozen lemongrass paste, use 4 tablespoons. 

    Continue to 3 of 10 below.
  • 03 of 10

    Add Lime Leaves

    Adding Makrut Lime Leaves
    The Spruce / Darlene A. Schmidt

    Add fresh makrut lime leaves to the soup pot.

    If you couldn't find makrut lime leaves, substitute the zest of 1 lime.

    Continue to 4 of 10 below.
  • 04 of 10

    Add Fresh Garlic and Ginger

    Adding Garlic
    The Spruce / Darlene A. Schmidt

    Reduce heat to a simmer. Add garlic, pressed or finely chopped.

    If you're using ginger, add it to the pot.

    Continue to 5 of 10 below.
  • 05 of 10

    Add Fish Sauce and Lime Juice

    Adding Fish Sauce
    The Spruce / Darlene A. Schmidt

    Add the fish sauce, the freshly-squeezed lime juice, and brown sugar if using. 

    For vegetarians and vegans, substitute fish sauce with 4 tablespoons of soy sauce (use wheat-free soy sauce like tamari for gluten-free diets).

    Continue to 6 of 10 below.
  • 06 of 10

    Add Red Chili

    Adding Chili
    The Spruce / Darlene A. Schmidt

    Add red chili or chili flakes according to your level of spice tolerance. Start with 1/2 teaspoon. Once the soup is ready, taste and add more if needed. 

    Continue to 7 of 10 below.
  • 07 of 10

    Add Vegetables

    Adding Vegetables
    The Spruce / Darlene A. Schmidt

    Although vegetables are optional in tom yum soup, they give it a great texture, add flavor and provide extra nutrition. Add the mushrooms, tomatoes, bok choy, broccoli, and pepper, plus a dash of black pepper. 

    Continue to 8 of 10 below.
  • 08 of 10

    Add Shrimp

    Adding Shrimp
    The Spruce / Darlene A. Schmidt

    Add the shrimp and let simmer for 3 minutes if fresh. If frozen, thaw shrimp beforehand by putting them in warm water for 10 minutes. 

    Continue to 9 of 10 below.
  • 09 of 10

    Add Coconut Milk

    Adding Coconut Milk
    The Spruce / Darlene A. Schmidt

    Reduce heat to low and add coconut milk. Try to use good-quality coconut milk and not the "lite" version. If you can't find full-fat coconut milk, use the same amount of evaporated milk

    Continue to 10 of 10 below.
  • 10 of 10

    Taste and Serve

    Tom Yum Soup
    The Spruce / Darlene A. Schmidt

    Taste the soup:

    • If too sour for your taste, add a teaspoon of sugar.
    • If not salty enough, add more fish sauce, soy sauce, or a shake of salt.
    • If too sweet or too salty, add another squeeze of lime juice.
    • If too spicy for your taste add more coconut or evaporated milk. 
    • For more heat, add more chili flakes. 

    Ladle the soup into bowls and top with a generous sprinkling of fresh basil and coriander.

    For vegetarian and vegan versions, add the tofu right before serving to avoid it disintegrating in the soup and losing its chewy texture. 

    For a version without (or optional) coconut milk, try this tom yum kung recipe.

    Enjoy very hot!