Tom Yum

A fabulous Duchess recently asked me for a soup recipe, and while I didn’t have the exact one she wanted, I’m putting up this version of Tom Yum soup I found online and tested out a few days ago. While my traditional go-to meal for staving off the cold of winter is pho, this one is a worthy winter-beater as well, with the heat from all the chili peppers giving some red-hot goodness to the spicy broth. (If you’re having trouble finding some of the more exotic ingredients and you don’t have access to a decent Asian market, try going online. I’ve found some wonderful suppliers of Kaffir lime leaves just a few clicks away, and once you get a batch they freeze quite well for a while.)

This somewhat-sour soup is said to have medicinal properties as well, with its classic Thai triumvirate of the aforementioned Kaffir lime leaves, lemon grass, and fresh galangal root. It is indeed hot and spicy, so if you’re unsure, add the chili peppers at the last possible moment (the longer they’re in, the hotter the soup will be).

 Tom Yum Soup
  •          4 cups of water
  •          2 stalks fresh lemongrass, trim off the very end of the root and smash; cut into 1 inch pieces
  •          3 slices fresh galangal root (smashed)
  •          3 fresh kaffir lime leave
  •          1 tbsp. tamarind paste, with or without seeds
  •          1 tbsp. fish sauce
  •          3/4 lb shrimp, medium to large size, shelled and de-veined
  •          12 fresh Thai chili peppers, whole
  •          1/2 small white onion, cut 1/4 inch slices
  •          2 tbsp. roasted chili paste (nam prik pao)
  •          1 (16 oz.) can straw mushrooms, drained and rinsed
  •          1 small ripe tomato, cut into wedges 1/4 inch thick
  •          1 small lime, squeezed
  •          2 sprigs fresh cilantro (more if desired)


Bring water to boil over high heat in a medium-sized saucepan. Add the lemon grass, galangal, kaffir lime leaf, fish sauce and tamarind paste. Add the shrimp, bring to a boil and cook 3 minutes. Add the onion, nam prik pao and mushrooms. Boil for another 7 minutes until the shrimp is cooked through. Add the chile peppers and tomatoes. Turn off the heat. Add the lime juice. Taste to adjust the seasoning, adding fish sauce to taste. Garnish with cilantro, roasted whole chili peppers and a splash of coconut milk if desired and serve hot.


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