Thai tom yum soup with shrimp and chicken is one of the easiest soup recipes that you can make right at home.
There's no need for you to go out in order to treat yourself with delicious tom yum soup when you can make it yourself!
Hands down, when I'm cold or feeling like I'm coming down with the cold, this is my favorite soup to make because the flavorful broth is fragrant and has just enough spice to clear my sinuses!
If you haven't had Thai food before, one way to explore a culture is through their food and what better recipe to do that than with this tom yum soup recipe.
About Tom Yum Soup
Tom yum soup is a delicious and aromatic soup which builds it's foundation on shrimp or chicken chicken broth. The amazing melding of strong herbs like shallots, garlic, lemon grass, chiles allow for a simple and quick meal preparation.
You cannot walk in Thailand without spotting tom yum on a menu, it is pretty much everywhere. While pad Thai has been popularized here in the United States, tom yum soup is the country's soup that can be found in every single restaurant and at every single street vendor's cart.
Tom yum soup has a very strong emphasis on flavorful herbs. What's great about this dish is that you can alter each of the ingredients to your liking.
What does tom yum soup taste like?
Tom yum soup is spicy, hot, and sour. It has amazing flavors that provide umami in the most incredible way.
I love eating this soup with an Asian soup spoon in order to soak more of the flavors of lemongrass, kaffir leaves, and shrimp in every single bite.
Other Names for Tom Yum Soup
Due to the the script that Thai language uses, often the dish is translated with different letters to English when shown on restaurant menus. Here are the various ways you'll find tom yum listed:
- Thai Hot and Sour Soup
- Tom Yum Goong
- Tom Yum Gong
- Tum Yum Kung
- Tom Yum Kung
What does tom yum mean?
When translated, the main keywords that refer to this soup are as follows.
Tom means boiling. Yum refers to the combination of spicy and sour flavors. Goong or kung (and it's various spellings) means shrimp in Thai.
If you put all these words together, the tom yum goong. means boiling hot and sour shrimp soup.
Recipe Variations of Tom Yum Soup
There are so many different variations of tom yum soup.
- With coconut milk
- With paste
- With shrimp, prawns, chicken, pork, or tofu
- With noodles
The most popular of these variations is tom yum goong, which is the shrimp based variety.
Alternative Recipe Options
Tom Yum Goong with Coconut Milk (Bangkok Style)
A creamier and heavier version of tom yum soup can be made by infusing coconut milk. All you'll need to do is add a splash of coconut milk at the end. It will still allow this dish to be gluten free and dairy free!
What is the difference between tom yum soup and tom kha?
Tom kha is the name for the recipe of tom yum that calls for coconut milk.
Myths About Tom Yum Soup
The myth about making tom yum soup is that it takes hours to make. In reality, because of how aromatic and strong the ingredients are, tom yum soup is actually really quick and easy to make.
Tom yum soup is both gluten free and paleo. In Thai culture, tom yum soup is askin to the western world's chicken noodle soup.
How many calories are in tom yum soup?
In one serving on tom yum soup, there are 270 calories.
Is tom yum soup healthy?
In Thai culture, tom yum soup is considered healthy and great especially when one has a cold.
Is tom yum soup keto?
Yes, tom yum soup is keto.
Is tom yum soup vegan or vegetarian?
If you substitute the shrimp broth and the protein, tom yum soup can be made vegan and vegetarian.
This is a healthier Thai soup, so it is also great for you as well (if you are pregnant, read this consideration about tom yum soup when you are a mother expecting).
Making Authentic Tom Yum Goong Soup
Tom yum soup is amazingly easy to make. You'll definitely need to make a stop at your local friendly Asian grocer to pick up a few key ingredients like lemon grass, kaffir leaves, and galangal. I promise you this extra stop will be well worth the trip.
Related Post: Navigating an Asian Grocery Store for the First Time
Ingredients in Tom Yum Soup
Ingredients to Eat and Not to Eat
Tom yum soup has a lot of ingredients that are used for flavoring the broth, not necessarily to actual eat when served. I wanted to list out all of the ingredients so that you have an idea whether you eat them or whether you should avoid them when served.
There are pieces like lemongrass, galangal, and kaffir leaves that are inside the soup that are just for flavor (kind of like bay leaves).
The items that you eat are generally the smaller pieces (like shrimp and chicken) and the larger pieces (lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves) are just for flavor.
The protein for tom yum soup is mainly shrimp or chicken. However, pork, tofu, and fish can often be used as protein too. The protein you definitely eat.
While some recipes say that you need the whole body of the shrimp including the shrimp head in order to get the "shrimp oils", I don't normally do that for my recipe. Mainly because it kind of creeps me out. If you are anything like me, you can leave the shrimp heads off of it.
However, I'd be remiss if I didn't tell you that the best of the best of tom yum uses shrimp stock.
Moreover, you'll find some recipes that allow leaving the shells on the shrimp. This definitely adds more flavor to the soup, but I just find it annoying to remove it while eating.
Lemongrass (do not eat)
Stalks of lemongrass are used to make the powerful aromatics of tom yum soup. You definitely remove this before serving.
Lemongrass should be eaten in moderation if you are expecting a little one. Learn about whether you can eat tom yum soup during pregnancy.
Galangal (do not eat)
Galangal root herb that is normally placed next to ginger in an Asian grocer. You can purchase this fresh or frozen. I prefer using fresh ones. This root helps negate the strong, seafood aroma.
I generally buy the canned straw mushrooms at the Asian grocer. You can use straw mushrooms or button mushrooms in this recipe. Rinse this well before putting it into the soup.
Lime Juice (eat)
Freshly squeezed lime juice is an ABSOLUTE must. You'll need lots of it. Don't even think about buying the pre-squeezed version, you'll regret it.
Kaffir Lime Leaves (do not eat)
Do not skip grabbing kaffir lime leaves because they pretty much make this soup along with the shrimp and lemongrass.
You'll need to make sure you tear the leaves in half before adding it to the broth in order to release the aromatics.
Filtered Fish Sauce (eat)
I prefer the Squid brand variety.
Thai Bird's Eye Chiles (eat)
This is what makes the soup hot. You can also substitute serrano peppers if you needed to.
While you can use onions for this recipe as well, shallots are better because it provides you the flavors of both garlic and onion.
Tom Yum Soup Paste (eat)
While most authentic recipes are made fully from scratch, I find using a spoonful of paste allows additional flavors to come through.
It's minced in this recipe. Often, you'll notice garlic in most recipes, but alas, garlic is not the star of the show, it's lemongrass and kaffir leaves in this episode.
How to Make Authentic Tom Yum Soup
This simple, yet oh-so-satisfying soup comes together in under half an hour.
Ingredients for Authentic Tom Yum Soup
- 3 stalks of lemongrass
- 6 slices of galangal
- 10 kaffir lime leaves, torn
- 5 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 shallots, sliced thinly
- 6 Thai bird's eye chilis (optional)
- 2 cups of chicken broth
- ½ pound of chicken
- ½ pound of shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 15 oz straw mushrooms
- 15 cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1 tablespoon of fish sauce
- 1 tablespoon of premade tom yum paste
- 1 tablespoon of sugar
- 1 tablespoon of salt
- 2 limes, juiced
- fresh cilantro, for garnish
Instructions for Making Simple Tom Yum Soup
- Trim off the top third and root of the lemongrass stalks. Using a food mallet or side of a knife, smash the lemongrass to allow the aromatics of the lemongrass to release the flavors.
- Put the water in a large pot on the stovetop. Add the lemongrass, galangal, kaffir lime leaves, garlic, and shallots, and birds eye chiles. Bring to a boil.
- Add in the chicken broth, chicken, straw mushrooms, cherry tomatoes, fish sauce, tom yum paste, sugar, and salt to the pot. Bring to a boil again.
- Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes.
- Add in the shrimp and bring to a boil again until thoroughly cooked.
- Add lime juice and stir until incorporated.
- Garnish with cilantro and serve.
How to Serve Tom Yum Soup
Tom yum soup can be served as a flavorful appetizer or on it's own as the main course.
Summary for Making Tom Yum Soup
Tom yum soup is a very quick and easy recipe that you will absolutely love. It's so easy, you can make this Thai recipe on a weeknight as an appetizer or as the main star of your meal.
Other Thai Recipes That You'll Love
Here are some other Thai recipes that come from my kitchen that I know you will absolutely love:
- Larb Gai (Minced Chicken Meat Salad)
- Cheater Pad Thai (using premade sauce)
- Thai Squid Salad Recipe (Yum Pla Muek)
- Thai Custard for Sticky Rice (Sangkaya)
- Thai Sticky Rice Using Instant Pot (Khao Niew)
- Thai Pork and Fermented Soybean Milk Recipe
Shrimp and chicken can be substituted with other proteins. To make it vegan, substitute the chicken broth for vegetable broth and protein for tofu. As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, I earn from qualifying purchases.
Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 285Total Fat: 19gSaturated Fat: 14gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 1436mgCarbohydrates: 25gFiber: 2gSugar: 8gProtein: 10g
Shrimp and chicken can be substituted with other proteins.
To make it vegan, substitute the chicken broth for vegetable broth and protein for tofu.
As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, I earn from qualifying purchases.