This Tom Yum Soup Will Make You Believe You’re In Thailand

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ready to eat - this tom yum soup wwill make you believe you are in thailand www.compassandfork.comFor many people tasting Thai food for the first time, there is a strong chance it will be Tom Yum soup. Often called Hot and Sour soup as well, it is traditionally made with shrimp (prawns). Our recipe today is quick and simple. Only 15 minutes’ preparation time, including making the all-important stock and a further 5 minutes of cooking. No need to go for Thai carry-out, make your own Tom Yum Soup and impress your family and friends.

Welcome to our first Thai recipe at Compass and Fork. There is no doubting Thai food’s popularity right across the world. Traveling to Thailand is something many people look forward, as evidenced by the fact that Bangkok is the world’s 10th busiest airport.

It’s not just the beaches, Buddhist temples, smiles, the gentle nature of the people, but also the food. And as a bonus, eating out in Thailand is cheap, particularly street food, which sometimes set us back less than $1 per head.

And all of those herbs and spices used in Thai cooking are extremely healthy for you, so it is a great cuisine to master at home if you are looking for a healthier diet.

Thai Food Essentials

Like Vietnamese cuisine, there is a strong emphasis on vegetables. Meat or seafood is “just another ingredient” to Thais and not the centerpiece like it tends to be in the West. This also helps keep the cost down.

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Thai silk - this tom yum soup will make you believe you are in thailand www.compassandfork.comThere is a huge emphasis on herbs and spices in Thailand. Of course, Thailand is famous for its chilies but they were only introduced to the country by Portuguese missionaries in the 16th century. However, Thai people took to the new import with a vengeance believing chilies cool the body, stimulate the appetite and bring balance and harmony to the food.

A Thai meal always offers a combination of flavors: sweet, spicy, sour, salty and sometimes bitter. It is the herbs and spices used that provide these combinations and Thai cooking is closely derived from the use of herbs and spices in traditional herbal medicines. The essence of many types of herbs can aid in regulating the circulatory system of the body.

To eat alone is considered a misfortune. Thais usually consume a multi-course meal, with everything being served at once, including the soup. And the soup is not consumed all in one hit but rather sipped throughout the meal in between other selections, as if it was a drink. More often than not they eat on the street. The Chinese introduced street food to Thailand.

Fishing Thai style - this tom yum soup wwill make you believe you are in thailand
Fishing Thai Style

 

Alcohol is drunk, with beer the most popular selection. It is moderately taxed and is not a bargain like the food. The cost is about the same as in the West, maybe slightly cheaper depending what you are used to. Wine is expensive in Thailand. It is heavily taxed and maybe it is a climate not suited to drinking it anyway. Juices are prevalent and good and make a good mixer with spirits or hard liquor. But the most popular drink with meals is water and tea, with Thai whisky making an appearance during festivities. Bottled water is available everywhere.

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Tom Yum Soup

Tom Yum Soup is a great dish to cut your teeth on if you are new to Thai cooking. It’s spicy, hot and sour. It contains galangal, lemongrass, and kaffir lime leaves, which have known properties to reduce gas, relieve dizziness and indigestion. Apart from that, it is a symphony of flavor and with only 5 minutes cooking time it is quick to make.

When shopping for Thai ingredients, you will find the major items in supermarkets but not everything you need to complete your Thai kitchen. It is a good idea to source a good, Asian grocer in your area. I have found they are usually cheaper than a supermarket and they are more than happy to answer any questions you have.

Become a subscriber to Compass and Fork and you can download the Asian Cooking Essentials guide. In it we have cataloged many of the Asian ingredients with a description of the item and a color picture to help you identify it. It covers Vietnamese and Thai ingredients.

More Winter Soup Recipes

Tom Yum Soup also known as Hot & Sour Soup is a Thai favorite. This recipe takes only 15 minutes. Gluten Free, Paleo (GF)

Fancy some other soups to try from around the world. How about:

If you like spicy soups, here is one from Vietnam. Beef Noodle Pho is gaining popularity all over the world. Find out why.

Here are two more popular soups world-wide. Black bean soup is simple to make and the garnish gives this one a real lift. And Butternut Squash Soup is another easy soup to make, this one is served with quinoa.

For some Turkish options try Red Lentil Soup or Yogurt Soup. Both are served everywhere in Turkey. Both are easy and healthy.

Tom Yum Soup
Tom Yum Soup
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Discover the Thai ingredients which deliver the hot and sour to Tom Yum Soup. Here is a quick and easy recipe recipe for this Thai classic. Make sure you buy whole, medium-sized, green (raw) shrimp with heads, shell and tail so you can make stock.
Servings Prep Time Cook Time
2people 15minutes 5minutes
Servings Prep Time
2people 15minutes
Cook Time
5minutes
Ingredients
Servings: people
Units:
Ingredients
Servings: people
Units:
Instructions
  1. Remove the heads and shells from the shrimp. Make shrimp stock by simply boiling the heads and shells in 2.5 cups of water for 3 minutes. Strain well and reserve the stock. Discard the heads and shells.
  2. Bring the stock to a boil over medium heat. Then add the lemongrass, galangal and shallots. Cook for 3-5 minutes. Add the mushrooms and kaffir lime leaves. Cook for 1 minute than add the tomato and simmer until soft. Add the prawns and cook for about 30 seconds. Remove from the heat.
  3. Season with fish sauce, chili, lime juice and sprinkle cilantro leaves on the top. Combine well before serving.A Foodies Guide to the Best of Thailand tom yum soup www.compassandfork.com
Recipe Notes

Alternatives:

Use chicken stock instead of shrimp stock.

Use chicken, squid or fish instead of shrimp.

Use coconut milk instead of stock.

# Our free, Asian cooking guide includes a detailed catalog of typical Asian herbs, vegetables and ingredients (including close-up pictures).  Become a Compass & Fork subscriber and download it for free.

44 Responses

  1. Carol Borchardt
    | Reply

    Wow! This look so fresh, flavorful and authentic! Going to try this!

    • Editor
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      We love it and only 15 minutes work. Thanks so much for your comment Carol.

  2. Felesha
    | Reply

    I would love to visit Thailand! I guess I’ll have to settle for this delicious looking soup until then! Looks super yummy!!

    • Editor
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      Yes a really great place for a tourist with wonderful food. This soup is so popular there. Thanks for your comment.

  3. Wandercooks
    | Reply

    Yum! We had this for the first time in a tiny local restaurant in Koh Lanta in the south of Thailand. I never realised that there are two ways that Thai people slice their ingredients – ‘Eat me’ (small slices) vs ‘don’t eat me’ way (big pieces just for flavour) – and you can easily see this in Tom Yum Soup! (Especially when you crunch into a nice big chunk of galangal hahah). Thanks for sharing, can’t wait to try this one when we get home. 🙂

    • Editor
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      Yes they are quite smart the way they go about things. And such a short cooking time for this soup.Thanks for your comment.

  4. Tamara
    | Reply

    We love cooking Thai food, but don’t really know much about the country! I may have to add Thailand to our “bucket list” – right behind #1 Peru and the Inca trail… I love your food stories!

    • Editor
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      Tamara, I think those 2 countries deserve to be number 1 and 2. The food in Thailand was amazing and cheap. Thanks for yopur kind comment.

  5. Claudia | Gourmet Project
    | Reply

    just what I need: a way to refresh my Thailand memories 🙂 lovely recipe!

    • Editor
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      So pleased to hear Claudia. Thank you for your comment.

  6. Shihoko
    | Reply

    Wow That sounds great that you can cook them in 5 min? I thought you have to simmer for long time to get the flavour. Tom yum was so popular in Japan while ago, but I have actually never tried. I must try this one since it does not take long time to cook 😀

    • Editor
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      It is a simple recipe that’s for sure. They are strong ingredients so don’t need long. Thanks for your comment.

  7. Manju | Cooking Curries
    | Reply

    This was a very interesting read. I love all the ingredients that has gone in to this soup – the galangal, lemongrass, kaffir lime and all that heat!

    • Editor
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      They are great ingredients aren’t they. I love the freshness of the kaffir lime leaf. Thanks for your comment.

  8. Noel
    | Reply

    Thai food has always intrigued me… but there’s not much option for testing it in rural north central Ohio. We’re mostly German descent here!! lol

    Friends recently spent a month in Thailand and I’m so lusting over the photos they shared of the food they sampled. I’m going to have to go out of my comfort zone and start making some!! Your recipes seem easy to start with.

    • Editor
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      Noel, These days you can find a lot of the ingredients that might be hard to find in your area online. This soup is a good one to get started with. Good luck with it and thanks for your comment.

  9. Willow
    | Reply

    I love Thai food! I am vegan, but I am going to have to try some of these spices and ingredients!

    • Editor
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      You can definitely omit the shrimp and replace with some meaty mushrooms and use coconut milk as the stock. Thanks for your comment.

  10. Tara@SimpleFood365
    | Reply

    Oooh – I bet this is SO comforting. And with the lemongrass, I can imagine it smells wonderful.

    • Editor
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      Yes there is nothing subtle about the taste or the aromas from this soup. Thanks for your comment.

  11. Valentina
    | Reply

    So much great information about Thai cooking! It’s one of my favorite cuisines and I especially adore the soups! This one is beautiful.

    • Editor
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      Yes sipping the soup throughout the rest of the dinner was a surprise to me too. Thanks for your comment.

  12. I love Thai food but have never tried Tom Yum soup! This looks delicious – light and full of flavor.

    • Editor
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      Yes it is definitely full of flavor. You are never left wondering with Thai food! Thanks for your comment.

  13. Ali @ Home & Plate
    | Reply

    I have had a few Thai dishes and have liked them all. This looks wonderful.

    • Editor
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      It’s a fun cuisine. So different from Western cuisines. We love it. Thanks for your comment.

  14. Heather
    | Reply

    This looks amazing! The prawns are huge and the soup has such a range of ingredients.. so fresh!! I have never tried this before but I think its time 🙂

    • Editor
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      Heather, it is so simple. Give it a try, you’ll love it. Thanks for your comment.

  15. michele
    | Reply

    I have always loved Tom Yum soup…. I must say thought Im glad it isn’t a misfortune to eat alone here in the states….. I do so much traveling for work I eat alone all the time. LOL I’m excited to try this as I am so happy to have another recipe that uses galangal…. I know, silly, but true!

    • Editor
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      Michele I am so pleased you know about galangal. A treasure ingredient and so good for you. I did much travel for work, not much fun being on your own. Thanks for your comment.

  16. Renee
    | Reply

    My favorite way to explore a culture is through their food. Thanks for sharing an authentic recipe for a quick soup.

    • Editor
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      Renee, it is quick and it is authentic. I do like the cultural story behind things. Thanks for your comment.

  17. Anne Murphy
    | Reply

    Oh, perfect! I love Tom Yum at the local Thai place – but we’ve stopped going out much, for a variety of reasons. I’ve been able to copy a curry or two, but hadn’t really gotten anywhere with the soup, yet – now I can!

    • Editor
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      Indeed Anne. It’s a popular soup and no wonder with such a great hot and sour taste. I hope you enjoy it. Thanks for your comment.

  18. Andapo
    | Reply

    This was a very interesting read… I love soups and like it that in Thai cuisine there are lot of herbs that actually good for health and digestion. Tom Yum soup now I know how it can be made, nice.

    • Editor
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      The herbs in Thai cooking are just fabulous. It is the secret to their cooking I think. Thanks for your comment.

  19. Sarah
    | Reply

    What an inspiring combination of flavors! This soup looks like something I need and want to make, ASAP! Thank you so much for sharing! 🙂

    • Editor
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      My pleasure. And it is easy. Thanks for your comment.

  20. jane @ littlesugarsnaps
    | Reply

    I love this write-up about how Thailand typically enjoys it’s food, what they drink and when to eat this soup. I adore H&S soup but always serve it as an appetiser – oops. I have now been educated.

    • Editor
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      Jane, it’s hard to break the habit of having soup before your main. Thanks for your comment.

  21. Healing Tomato
    | Reply

    I have always wanted to go to Thailand and savor their cuisine. This is a great way for me to get started on that journey.

    • Editor
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      It is a great place, lovely people and fabulous food. Thanks for your comment.

  22. Peter @ Feed Your Soul Too
    | Reply

    Thanks for sharing this cultural post and a dish I would love to try.

    • Editor
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      My pleasure. It’s an easy dish to make. Thanks for your comment.

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