One-Pot Wonders

Tom Yum Soup

June 15, 2012
4 Ratings
  • Serves 6
Author Notes

For the original story & link for Tom Yum Soup, see here:

Since I last made this soup and these roasted eggplants, I've been dreaming of other rich flavorful broths filled to the brim with earthy mushrooms and healthy toppings. I love good foods--especially those that are healthy, natural, and well-seasoned--but I don't like forced difficulties that require too many steps in getting there.

Rhett has been telling me about his favorite Tom Yum Soup from Baton Rouge's Taste of Asia (now closed) and in a desire to feed his nostalgia and my foodist yearnings, we returned to Vinh Phat for another round of cooking. Luckily, I had most of the ingredients for this soup in my pantry, but gladly shopped for essential shiitake mushrooms and bean sprouts.

At first I didn't understand the pull of this soup besides its unavailability. Yet the Thai dish is really quite famous for a complex broth that translates well to people outside of Taiwanese culture. Filled with a combination of curries, chilies, coconut, and more, the soup is derived from the Thai words "Tom" and "Yum" meaning a "boiled spicy and sour soup." I like things spicy and, at times, sour. I was game.

(Note: Yum doesn't carry its English meaning, "yum!" at all. But the soup is quite yummy....)

What I like about this broth is that no one ingredient overpowers the others. Cooking in a cuisine that is, quite literally, foreign to you requires a quick and steady learning curve that knows when to cut, adapt, and refrain from substitutions. Because the base for Tom Yum Soup is primarily chicken broth, the coconut milk doesn't overpower with its sugar and cream and the other spices--whether curry, red chilies, or various Asian sauces--blend harmoniously. It is this kind of fragrant balance one must learn when cooking outside their culture, and Tom Yum Soup offers a wonderful introduction to a more advanced representation of cooking with Asian palates.

And the soup is easy too. Simply bring the ingredients list below together in two separate boils for an addictive complex dish that's just way too easy. —Helana Brigman

What You'll Need
  • 5 cups chicken broth (or stock)
  • 13.5 ounces can coconut milk, whole fat
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 4 kaffir lime leaves, crushed gently
  • 2 pieces lemongrass
  • 1 (2-inch) pieces galangal root, peeled and grated
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 2 tablespoons garlic-chili sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoons ginger, freshly grated
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons green curry paste
  • 1 cup shiitake mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 cup button mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/2 onion, sliced
  • 5 small dry jalapeno chiles, ground (can sub. 2 tablespoons red pepper flakes)
  • 8 ounces can sliced bamboo shoots, drained
  • 13.5 ounces can mini corn, drained
  • 1/4 cup basil
  • 1 pound shrimp, peeled
  • 1 packet soba noodles, cooked according to package instructions
  • 1 bunch basil, cilantro, mint, bean sprouts, lime wedges, and green onions, to garnish
  1. 1.) In an over-sized pot, add chicken broth, coconut milk, lime juice, kaffir leaves, lemongrass, galangal, fish sauce, garlic chili sauce, sugar, and ginger. Whisk to combine and warm over medium-high heat until it boils. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 15-20 minutes or until broth is flavorful and infused.
  2. 2.) Whisk in green curry and add mushrooms, onion, chilies, bamboo, and basil to broth. Simmer over low-medium heat for an additional 15 minutes and add shrimp 5 minutes before serving. Meanwhile, cook soba noodles according to package instructions and plate in the bottom of soup bowls.
  3. 3.) When ready to serve, remove lemongrass from pot and ladle soup over soba noodles. Serve with remaining mint to garnish and other additional suggested toppings (cilantro, mint, bean sprouts, lime wedges, and/or green onions).

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • JJ Avinger-Jacques
    JJ Avinger-Jacques
  • Sqsh
  • Gabriella Snider
    Gabriella Snider
  • Pat

5 Reviews

Sqsh July 4, 2022
Uh, this seems to have been written by someone with very little understanding of Thai cuisine, as well as very sketchy geographical knowledge on the region (Taiwan is a *very* different country to Thailand!). While I'm all for people riffing off traditional recipes, and acknowledge there is never "one true authentic recipe", I think if you're publishing on a popular website you should make clear when your recipe is very far from "authentic". Tom Yum never contains coconut milk (there is, though, a creamy version, made with condensed milk!), and doesn't use green curry paste or noodles. What you've basically made here is a green curry noodle soup, not Tom Yum!
Gabriella S. March 25, 2020
This is not Tom Yum Soup. Tom Yum soup does NOT traditionally contain coconut milk. Tom Kha, on the other hand, does. But I guess that's an easy mistake to make when you also confuse Thailand with Taiwan. And like Pat mentioned, green curry does not belong in this soup. Yeesh.
Pat December 16, 2015
Dear Helena, please don't write what you don't know. Please, study world map. Thailand is where Tom yum came from not Taiwan. And tomyum is not chicken broth base the rest of your ingredients are a mess. Green curry paste in tom yum?
JJ A. December 4, 2015
YIKES...people from Thailand are NOT Taiwanese. It can be very offensive to make this type of cultural mistake.
Olivia August 22, 2013
really really tasty soup! thank you for the recipe