Make Tom Khaa, Easy Tom Yum Soup with Coconut Milk

Easy tom yum soup with coconut milk tom khaa

The Spruce / Cara Cormack

Prep: 15 mins
Cook: 15 mins
Total: 30 mins
Servings: 2 servings
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
576 Calories
30g Fat
68g Carbs
23g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 2
Amount per serving
Calories 576
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 30g 39%
Saturated Fat 26g 129%
Cholesterol 28mg 9%
Sodium 2369mg 103%
Total Carbohydrate 68g 25%
Dietary Fiber 10g 37%
Protein 23g
Calcium 328mg 25%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Aside from being the most famous of all Thai soups, Tom Yum offers many health benefits due to its potent combination of herbs and spices. With its collection of ingredients like lemongrass, garlic, lime leaves, and coriander, this Thai favorite is said to have both immune-boosting and anti-inflammatory properties. Making it a wonderful go-to option when fighting off a cold or stomach ailments.

This version of the soup includes coconut milk (which officially makes it "Tom Khaa"), adding both richness and flavor while still keeping the soup super healthy.  Spoon the soup over steamed white rice if you like; this is how the dish is traditionally eaten in Thailand.

Ingredients

  • 1 stalk lemongrass 
  • 3 to 4 cups chicken stock
  • 3 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried crushed chili (or to taste)
  • 3 makrut lime leaves
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup fresh shiitake mushrooms (sliced thinly)
  • 12 to 14 medium or large raw shrimp (shelled)
  • 1 green or red bell pepper (sliced)
  • Optional: 1 handful cherry tomatoes
  • 1/2 (13.5-ounce) can coconut milk (or to taste)
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • Garnish: sprig fresh cilantro (roughly chopped)

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for easy tom yum soup
    The Spruce / Cara Cormack
  2. Prepare the lemongrass: Finely mince the lower third of the stalk and keep the upper part whole.

  3. In a deep cooking pot, pour the chicken stock and turn heat to medium-high. Add prepared lemongrass to the pot, including upper parts of the stalk you didn't mince. Boil 5 to 6 minutes, or until fragrant.

    Lemongrass in pot
    The Spruce / Cara Cormack
  4. Reduce heat slightly to achieve a nice simmer. Add garlic, chili, lime leaves, and mushrooms to broth. Continue simmering for another 5 minutes.

    Add garlic, chili, lime leaves
    The Spruce / Cara Cormack
  5. Add shrimp, bell pepper, and cherry tomatoes (if using). Simmer 5 to 6 minutes, or until the shrimp are pink and plump.

    Add shrimp
    The Spruce / Cara Cormack
  6. Turn down the heat to low and add coconut milk and fish sauce. Taste-test and adjust as needed.

    Add soup
    The Spruce / Cara Cormack
  7. Serve in bowls with fresh cilantro sprinkled over as a garnish. Enjoy. 

    Easy tom yum soup
    The Spruce / Cara Cormack

How to Adjust the Soup to Taste

One key to this soup is to adjusting it to suit your taste. After the coconut milk and fish sauce are added, test it, and make the following additions if needed:

  • To make it spicier, add a little more chili.
  • Rather than salt, add fish sauce for a saltier soup.
  • Add a squeeze of lime if it's too salty.
  • If it's too sour, add 1 teaspoon brown sugar.
  • Make the soup richer or creamier by adding more coconut milk. This also fixes a soup that's too spicy.

Tips

  • Makrut lime leaves are available fresh or frozen at Asian food stores.
  • If you can't find makrut lime leaves, use fresh lime juice instead. It will alter the taste slightly.
  • Use a gentle hand when stirring coconut milk to avoid clumping or curdling. Avoid bringing the coconut milk to a full boil.

Recipe Variations

  • Vegetarian version: Use vegan fish sauce, eliminate the shrimp, and substitute vegetable stock for the chicken stock.
  • Chicken variation: Add bite-sized pieces of chicken breast instead of the shrimp.
  • Version without coconut milk: Coconut milk is optional in this tom yum kung recipe.