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Tom Yum Soup | Thailand

The famous Thai Soup. See recipe notes for shortcut using frozen peeled prawns/shrimp. Also, CHOOSE from classic clear Tom Yum (Tom Yum Goong Nam Sa) or the creamy Tom Yum version (Tom Yum Goong Nam Khon)!




60oz whole prawns / shrimp with heads and shells on (Note 7)


18 cup water

3 cup  chicken stock/broth , low sodium

12 stalks of lemongrass , outer layers peeled(Note 1)

3.6″ piece of galangal , cut into 4 slices (Note 2)

30 kaffir lime leaves , torn roughly (Note 3)

12 Thai or birdseye chillies (Note 4)

18 garlic cloves

Soup Add Ins:

24oz oyster mushrooms

6 roma tomato , cut into wedges

3 white onion (medium sized), cut into wedges about 1 cm thick

6 tsp sugar

18 tbsp fish sauce (Note 5)

18 tbsp lime juice

Coriander/cilantro , for garnish

Creamy Tom Yum Option:

9 tbsp Thai roasted chili sauce (Nam Prik Pa, Note 6)

2 cup evaporated milk



Peel the prawns. Place heads and shell in pot, reserve meat.


Use a meat mallet or similar to bash the garlic, chili and lemongrass so they burst open to release flavor. Add to the  pot.


Crush kaffir lime leaves with your hands. Add into the 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 the same pot over low heat.

Finish Soup:

Add onions and mushrooms, simmer for 3 minutes. Add tomatoes, simmer for 1 minute.

Add prawns, simmer for 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 chili! 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 the recipe!

Bonus: Tom KHA!

Follow the Creamy Tom Yum steps but use coconut milk instead of evaporated milk.


1. Lemongrass – To prepare, cut in half, peel the reedy green shell to reveal the softer white part on the bottom half of the lemongrass. If lemongrass is hard to come by, you can use PASTE: stir in 1 tbsp.


2. Galangal is like ginger but it has a more sour and peppery flavor. If you can’t find it, just substitute ginger and a grind of black pepper.


3. Kaffir Lime Leaves are the leaves of a kaffir lime tree. It’s used to add earthy citrus flavors into Asian food. Sold at large grocery stores (Coles, Woolies, Harris) and Asian stores. Dried is an ok substitute (same amount), but I really urge you to try to find fresh if you can because it adds that “something-something” that really makes this “restaurant quality”. Freezes 100% perfectly, I always have a stash!


4. Chili – This soup is not that spicy but has a mild kick to it!


5. Fish Sauce – I’m afraid this is key to getting enough flavor in the broth so I can’t offer a sub here!


6. Thai roasted Chili Paste – you’ll need to go to a Thai grocery store for this. If you can’t get to one, use another Asian Chili Paste and some chili oil to achieve a similar flavor profile. Sambal Oelek + chili oil is an excellent fall back.


7. SHORTCUT FROZEN PRAWN/SHRIMP VERSION: made using pre-peeled frozen prawns. 


Skip prawn/shrimp shells and head in the broth. Instead, add 1.5 tsp shrimp paste into the broth. Proceed with the recipe.


Use 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!


8. Storing – leftover soup can be kept for 2 days in the fridge then gently reheat in microwave without prawns/shrimp and add them in later (so you don’t accidentally overcook them). 


Freezing – broth freezes 100% perfectly. For best results, follow the recipe to strain, then return to the pot. Gently cook shrimp/prawns then remove. Add fish sauce and sugar. Allow to cool separately, return shrimp into broth and freeze. Add mushrooms and tomato once soup is reheated, as well as lime (best to add these fresh).


Credit: Nagi