Tom Yum soup – everybody’s favourite Thai soup is finally here! Choose from the classic clear Tom Yum Goong, or make the creamy Tom Yum version – both are made with the same broth.
Simple to make using whole fresh OR peeled frozen prawns / shrimp, this is astonishingly easy to make once you’ve gathered the ingredients! Bonus: Tom Yum is probably the healthiest Thai dish ever, clocking in at just 156 calories!
Tom Yum Soup
Asian food has some of the best soups in the world! From the rich coconut Laksa Noodle Soup to Vietnamese Beef Pho, and Japanese Ramen, there’s a vast variety and Thailand’s Tom Yum Soup is right up there with the best of them.
And the bonus? Tom Yum Soup is good for you, with just 156 calories per serving and very low fat.
Two types of Tom Yum
First up, let me explain that there’s two different types of Tom Yum Soup:
Clear Tom Yum Soup (Tom Yum Goong Nam Sai); and
CREAMY Tom Yum Soup (Tom Yum Goong Nam Khon) which is made from the clear version with the addition of evaporated milk and a good hit of Thai Chilli Paste.
I’ve no idea which is more popular, and truthfully I like both equally so I don’t play favourites. The creamy version has a slightly bigger flavour punch because of the addition of the chilli paste. The evaporated milk really doesn’t add flavour, it just changes the appearance.
Difference between Tom Yum and Tom Kha?
The soup broth flavour base is the same, but the key difference is that Tom Kha has chilli paste and a splash of coconut milk added. In fact, Tom Kha is the creamy version of Tom Yum I’m sharing today if you use the coconut milk option instead of evaporated milk!
Tom Yum is best made with whole prawns/shrimp that you peel yourself. But I’ve got a recipe made with frozen peeled prawns too – see recipe notes!!
What goes in Tom Yum Soup
There’s 2 parts to Tom Yum Soup:
Making the soup broth; and
The stuff that goes in the broth.
Firstly, the broth. In addition to items shown below, you also need the head and shell of the peeled prawns/shrimp (see image below). If you can’t get whole prawns, don’t worry – in the recipe notes, there’s directions for making this with frozen pre-peeled prawns!
Key to this soup broth are all the fragrant fresh herbs and spices you see below. The kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass, galangal, chilli and garlic. They impart such beautiful flavour into the soup!
And here’s the stuff IN the soup.
I live in the upper northern beaches of Sydney, which is a beautiful part of the world but is sadly in Asian food and produce. But even I can get my hands on all the ingredients for this recipe from my grocery and fresh produce stores!!
How to make Tom Yum Soup
The ingredient gathering is the hardest part of this recipe, being that the aromatics aren’t pantry staples and depending how well stocked your grocery store is, might require a trip to an Asian store.
The making part is very straight forward, calling for not much more than plonking and simmering, straining, more plonking then simmering again. EASY!
See? A lot of plonk and simmer above to make the broth.
And more plonk and simmer below when you add the “stuff” into the soup.
That’s how you make the clear version of Tom Yum Soup which I find is the one more commonly served at Thai restaurants in Sydney.
The broth looks deceptively simple – clear and unassuming. But wait until you try it! It’s got terrific complexity of flavour from the prawn/shrimp shells – basically it’s a homemade prawn stock with a ton of aromatics added!!
Can you freeze Tom Yum soup?
Yes you can! What I like to do is make the broth, strain it, then just cook the shrimp/prawns and freeze it like that, before the mushrooms and tomato go in. But in fact, it would freeze fine even with the tomato and mushrooms – I just feel it’s better adding them in fresh later.
And now for the creamy version!
How to make CREAMY Tom Yum Soup
For the creamy version, you simply take the clear one, add a good dollop of Thai Chilli paste then a splash of evaporated milk.
I think that people assume that the creamy version is made with coconut milk, being an ingredient associated with Thai cooking. But it’s not, it’s evaporated milk.
But coconut milk is also amazing – in fact, that changes Tom Yum into Tom Kha soup and some people who sampled this preferred that the best!
Whichever you choose – classic clear or the creamy version, you are going to love it. It tastes 100% authentic, as good as you get at Thai restaurants. I exaggerate not – some favourite takeout dishes are difficult or simply can’t be replicate at home because we don’t have commercial grade equipment. And when that’s the case, I’m very upfront about how close a homemade version can be (for example, Chicken Tikka Masala, Char Kway Teow)
Tom Yum soup is not one of those! It’s astonishingly easy, SUPER HEALTHY, and tastes just like the real deal! – Nagi x
Watch how to make it
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Tom Yum Soup (Thai Soup)
- 300g / 10oz whole prawns / shrimp with heads and shells on (Note 7)
- 3 cup (750 ml) water
- 1/2 cup (125 ml) chicken stock/broth , low sodium
- 2 stalks of lemongrass , outer layers peeled(Note 1)
- 1.5 cm / 3/5" piece of galangal , cut into 4 slices (Note 2)
- 5 kaffir lime leaves , torn roughly (Note 3)
- 2 Thai or birdseye chillies (Note 4)
- 3 garlic cloves
Soup Add Ins:
- 120g / 4oz oyster mushrooms
- 1 roma tomato , cut into wedges
- 1/2 white onion (medium sized), cut into wedges about 1 cm thick
- 1 tsp sugar
- 3 tbsp fish sauce (Note 5)
- 3 tbsp lime juice
- Coriander/cilantro , for garnish
Creamy Tom Yum Option:
- 1 1/2 tbsp Thai roasted chili sauce (Nam Prik Pa, Note 6)
- 1/3 cup (75 ml) evaporated milk
- Peel the prawns. Place heads and shell in pot, reserve meat.
- Use a meat mallet or similar to bash the garlic, chilli and lemongrass so they burst open to release flavour. Add into pot.
- Crush kaffir lime leaves with your hands. Add into pot.
- Add galangal, stock and water. Bring to simmer on high heat, cover, then reduce to medium and simmer for 10 minutes.
- Strain the broth, discard the prawn shells etc, then return broth into same pot over low heat.
- Add onions and mushrooms, simmer 3 minutes. Add tomatoes, simmer for 1 minute.
- Add prawns, simmer 2 minutes or until just cooked.
- Stir in sugar and fish sauce, simmer for 1 minute.
- Add lime juice, then taste. Adjust sweet (sugar), salt (fish sauce) and sour (lime) to your taste (trust me, you'll know when you like it!).
- Ladle into bowls and serve with fresh coriander and fresh chilli! This is the CLEAR version of Tom Yum.
Creamy Tom Yum:
- When you add sugar, also add Thai Chilli Paste and evaporated milk.
- Then continue with recipe!
Bonus: Tom KHA!
- Following Creamy Tom Yum steps but use coconut milk instead of evaporated milk.
- Skip prawn/shrimp shells and head in the broth. Instead, add 1.5 tsp shrimped paste into the broth. Proceed with recipe.
- Use 200g/7oz frozen peeled prawns (this is more than the weight of peeled whole prawns) and add them in step 7. The resulting soup is extremely good, quite similar to making the broth using the prawn shells!
Life of Dozer
A familiar sight – he does this every day. ie rolling around on a pile of his toys. Do you think he’s:
a) in need of a good back scratch
b) rubbing his stench all over the toys in a sign of ownership / deter other dogs from taking his toys
c) just loving life? 🤔🤔🤔
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