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Sour soup in a white stock pot.

Thai Sour Curry Soup with Fish and Shrimp (Kaeng Som)

  • Author: Suwanee
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 4 1x
  • Diet: Gluten Free


Thai sour curry soup with fish and shrimp (Kaeng Som) is a tangy, salty and healthy soup. This sour curry soup is popular in Southern Thailand, where the seafood is abundant and fresh. It's not only tasty but a healthy soup of nutritious ingredients.



Curry paste ingredients

  • 1/2 cup shallot, chopped small
  • 1 tablespoon garlic, chopped small
  • 1 oz Krachai, chopped small. 
  • Dry chilis 8-15. Adjust as needed for spiciness. Remove seeds and soak them in hot water for 10-15 minutes. Or microwave for 3 minutes with water, and let sit to soften

Soup Ingredients

  • 8 -10 oz fish. You can cut it into bite-size pieces or leave them in large fillets. I like my fish in large pieces better as they don't fall apart easily in the soup when cooking.
  • 1 pound large raw shrimp, shells, heads, and tails on. If using shrimp with no heads or shells, use only 12 oz
  • 5 cups water or stock
  • 2 cups napa cabbage, sliced into large, 3-4 inches pieces
  • 1 cup green beans, cut into 1-2 inch pieces
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1.5 teaspoon shrimp paste
  • 1/3 cup tamarind
  • 3 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 1-2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon sugar


  1. Make the stock. Remove shrimp heads and shells, and leave the tails on. Place in a stock pot and leave the rest of the shrimp for later. Add 6 cups of water to the stock pot with shrimp heads and shells, boil on medium heat, then let it simmer for 10 minutes.
  2. Drain the shrimp stock and discard the shells and heads. You should have a bright orange stock for making soup. 
  3. Make the paste. Add shallot, garlic, Krachai, and shrimp paste to a small food processor. Add 2 tablespoons of water to the mixture and blitz until a paste forms.
  4. Add half of the fish and 3-4 pieces of the large shrimp to the stock to do a quick boil. Cook for 2-3 minutes until the fish is soft. Remove with a wire mesh strainer and add the cooked fish and shrimp to a food processor. Blitz the fish and shrimp with the paste mixture, and add 2 tablespoons of stock water to help turn the blades. Set aside.
  5. Add 5 cups of stock back into the pot, and bring to a gentle boil on medium heat. Add the paste to the stock pot, stir and mix well. 
  6. Add napa cabbage and green beans, fish sauce, and sugar. Cook for 2-3 minutes until tender. 
  7. Add the rest of the fish and shrimp and cook for only 2 minutes. 
  8. Add the tamarind sauce and lime juice to get the sour flavor. Turn the heat off and adjust with more tamarind juice, fish sauce, or salt. Done! Scoop into a serving bowl with rice and enjoy! The soup is best when it’s served hot.


  • This Thai soup is best when fresh. The fish meat and shrimp will fall apart easily if served as leftovers the next day.
  • You can use just fish or shrimp if desired.
  • If using smaller shrimp with no shells and heads, use less. Rather than using 1 pound of small shrimp, use only 12 oz.
  • Use any other stock instead if you don’t want to make the shrimp stock. 
  • The best fish for this recipe is firm white fish like cod, tilapia, or sea bass. 
  • Skip the fish and shrimp and add more vegetables of your choice. Fresh vegetables for this soup are cabbage, kale, bok choy, green papaya, daikon, zucchini, onions, and bell peppers.
  • Make it spicy by adding jalapeños and hot Thai peppers.

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  • Prep Time: 15
  • Cook Time: 15
  • Category: Curry
  • Method: Stove Top
  • Cuisine: Thai

Keywords: Kaeng som recipe, Thai sour soup fish recipe, thai orange sour soup recipe, Kaeng som pla recipe, thai sour curry soup