At first sip of this Thai tom yum soup, you'll be overcome by the almost intoxicating flavors of lemongrass, garlic, lime, coconut milk, and chili combined with a chicken stock base and topped up with shrimp. If you like spicy, I recommend either fresh red chilies or getting yourself a bottle of chili oil and adding anywhere from a few drops to a few teaspoons. Or leave the chili out for a terrific mild tom yum. Once you've made this special Thai soup, it will likely stay on your family favorite list forever.
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- 12 to 14 medium shrimp (or 8 to 10 large, raw, shells left on or removed)
- 6 cups chicken stock
- 1 stalk lemongrass, lower third finely minced, top bulb smashed and bound with twine
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 tablespoons onion, minced
- 3 tablespoons grated galangal or ginger
- 3 leaves makrut lime, or bay leaves and long strip of lime zest
- 1 teaspoon lime juice, or lemon juice
- 1 1/2 tablespoons fish sauce
- 1/2 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 carrot, thickly sliced
- 1 to 2 cups shiitake mushrooms, stems removed
- 1 small zucchini, sliced into half-moons
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
- 1/4 to 1/3 can coconut milk, adding more or less to taste
- 1 teaspoon chili oil
- 1/3 cup fresh coriander
- Optional: brown sugar, to taste
- Optional: crushed chili pepper flakes, to taste
Gather the ingredients.
Pour stock into a deep cooking pot and switch heat to medium-high. Add prepared lemongrass, including upper sections of the stalk you didn't mince. Boil hard 5 to 6 minutes to soften.
Add garlic, onion, galangal or ginger, lime leaves (or bay leaves), lime or lemon juice, fish sauce, soy sauce, and carrots. Reduce heat slightly, cover, and continue lightly boiling 5 minutes. Add mushrooms and zucchini, and continue lightly boiling another 5 minutes.
Add shrimp and cherry tomatoes. Cook 3 minutes, or until shrimp are pink and plump.
Turn down the heat to low and add 1/4 can coconut milk plus more fish sauce to taste. This is where the soup comes to its perfection. Taste-test for the most flavorful you can make it, without tilting over into too-salty, adding more fish sauce until you're happy with the flavor. Discard the lime or bay leaves and the zest, if using.
Serve with fresh coriander sprinkled over, and enjoy!
- While they can be messy to remove while eating, leaving the shells on shrimp adds infinitely more flavor to the soup. In Thailand, what cooks sometimes do is remove the shells, but add them to the soup, removing just before eating.
- If you want to add some spice to your Tom Yum soup, we recommend adding chili oil, fresh chili, or chili flakes.
- If this Tom Yom soup is too sour for your taste, add a little brown sugar.
- If it turned out too salty, add a squeeze of lime juice.
- Add more coconut milk if you want your soup richer/creamier, or if it's too strong for your taste.
- For a version without (or optional) coconut milk, try this tom yum kung recipe.