Tom Yum Soup is a popular Thai sour and spicy soup with bold flavors from chicken broth, tom yum soup paste, lemongrass, galangal, kaffir lime leaves, fish sauce and fresh lime juice. Not only is this delicious Tom Yum soup recipe with chicken healthy, it is full of flavors that will keep you wanting more all winter long.
What is Tom Yum?
Tom Yum in Thai literally means, Boiled Mixed (soup) Tom = Boiled, Yum = Mixed. Tom Yum soups are typically known for the use of large shrimp in the dish, but like many Thai recipes, it’s not confined to the traditional culinary rules. The combination of meat used varies and it’s totally up to you on what you like to eat! You can use seafood combinations like fish, shrimp, scallop, squid, mussels. Chicken and vegetarian versions are also popular. In this recipe, I use chicken, which in Thai is called ‘Tom Yum Gai’, Gai meaning chicken. Trust me, it is a delicious one!
Is Tom Yum soup healthy?
Tom Yum soup is very healthy, especially this recipe. Some versions call for sugar and or coconut milk; mine has neither. I’ll share the version I make with coconut milk later. For now, I’m sharing this very easy and quick Thai chicken soup that doesn’t call for coconut milk. This recipe that will keep you warm all winter long!
What is the difference between Tom Kha and Tom Yum soup?
Tom Kha is another very well known Thai soup and it calls for almost the exact same ingredients as Tom Yum soup. The only difference is the use of coconut milk in Tom Kha makes the soup a tiny bit more creamy and slightly sweeter than the boldly sour and salty soup of Tom Yum. Stay tuned for my Tom Kha recipe coming up very soon so you can try both and see which one you like best!
How do you make Tom Yum soup from scratch?
My Tom Yum soup recipe uses tom yum paste. Tom yum paste is typically made from herbs such as hot Thai chili peppers, shallots, galangal, lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves and rind.
Pictured above: Lemon grass, one of the main herbs used in Tom Yum Soup.
Authentic Tom Yum soup paste recipe
I grew up eating tom yum soup made from scratch. It’s a bit of a process but not entirely too difficult. We made chicken broth from scratch too—meaning we caught our free roaming chicken from our yard and umm…made homemade broth from the unlucky chicken. That was just how we lived back then. We then made the tom yum paste for the base from herbs and spices like Thai chili peppers, galangal, kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass, most of which we found in our own yard. That paste was then combined with the broth, additional herbs and meat and we had a delicious meal.
Here in the US, I often buy pre-made tom yum paste and I don’t chase any free range chicken for my soup broth. I’ll wait for that the next time I go to Thailand to visit my family.
For the Tom Yum paste, I recommend the brand pictured above, you can find it at most Asian markets near you. I also have used, love and recommend this brand of Tom Yum paste. Make sure to always refrigerate your paste after opening, it will keep for 3-6 months or longer.
Ingredients for my clear Thai chicken Tom Yum soup are listed below:
How to make Tom Yum Gai Instructions with step by step pictures?
- Add the stock to a soup pot and bring to a boil on medium high heat.
- Add Tom Yum paste and stir well until the paste dissolves.
- Add all the herbs (kaffir lime leaves, lemon grass, galangal, cilantro stems) and stir. The chilis are optional if you want more heat. Turn the heat to medium and let simmer for 4-5 minutes.
- Add the chicken, stir, and let cook until done (7-8 minutes).
- Add the vegetables (shallot, mushroom, tomato) and stir. Cook for 3-4 minutes more.
- Add fish sauce and lime juice, cook for 2 minutes more, turn the heat off and remove from the stove top. Taste the soup and adjust as needed. Be careful here as the soup is still very hot, so make sure you don’t burn your tongue! Adjust as needed with fish sauce and lime juice. That’s it! Serve fresh and garnish with cilantro.
* Don’t forget to remove the chunky herbs before eating, especially the lemongrass, if you don’t want to eat them. They will not harm you but they are pretty strong in flavor and hard to chew if you are not used to them. Enjoy your chicken Tom Yum Soup!!
Tom Yum soup can be eaten as a stand-alone dish. You can add cooked Jasmine rice to the bowl if desired. My Thai family and I often do so as it makes the soup more hearty. Rice serves as a great buffer too for the spicy flavors of the soup! (: