Tom Yum Soup is popular for a reason. It’s brimming with flavor, it’s cozy, and you can easily make it at home.

Bowl of Tom Yum Soup with hand spooning up shrimp.

First: What Is Tom Yum Soup?

You’ve seen it on the menus at Thai restaurants. Tom Yum Soup is an aromatic Thai soup that is light on the belly but bold on the palate. It’s sour, salty, citrusy, and spicy with a blend of lemongrass, Thai chilis, and fish sauce. In this recipe, we’ve added shrimp, which technically makes it Tom Yum Goong! But the shrimp is optional, so just omit it if you want a simple bowl of Tom Yum Soup.

Is Tom Yum Soup Healthy?

Good news! This soup is checked off as good for you. It’s low in calories, contains veggies, and uses ingredients that offer up health benefits.

  • Lemongrass and galangal are known to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits.
  • Fish sauce offers up Omega-3 fatty acids along with other vitamins and minerals.
  • Bird’s eye chili has a reputation for reducing blood pressure, cholesterol, and other heart disease.

Ingredients You’ll Need.

Some of the ingredients list won’t be found at your local grocer, like galangal and kaffir lime leaves. To find these ingredients, look for a local Asian market.

  • Tom Yum paste
  • Lime
  • Garlic
  • Kaffir lime leaves
  • Lemongrass stalk
  • Galangal
  • Bird’s eye chilis
  • Fish sauce
  • Sugar
  • White onion
  • Mushrooms (shimeji or oyster mushrooms preferred)
  • Roma tomatoes
  • Cilantro or flat-leaf parsley (cilantro is traditional, but if you’re like me and hate cilantro, flat-leaf parsley is the perfect substitute)
  • Shrimp, peeled, deveined, and tail-off (optional)

Hands holding bowl of soup.

How to Make This Cozy Bowl in Your Own Kitchen.

Despite possibly having to hunt down a few of the ingredients, the process is very approachable. Here’s what you’ll do:

  1. Fill a medium-sized saucepan with 4 cups of water and to it, add torn kaffir lime leaves, chopped lemongrass, galangal, smashed garlic cloves, and sliced chilies. Pop it onto the stove over medium-high heat, bring it to a boil, and cover. Let the water boil for about 5 minutes, then add the Tom Yum paste. Decrease the heat to a simmer and let the soup go for another 5 minutes.
  2. Add the mushrooms, onion, tomatoes, fish sauce, and sugar. If you’re turning this into a Tom Yum Goong, add the shrimp now. Cover, and let the everything simmer for about 10 minutes.
  3. Before serving, add the cilantro or flat-leaf parsley and a splash of the lime juice.

Useful Tools for This Recipe:

Substitutions.

Some of these ingredients can be tough to find, especially if you don’t have an Asian market nearby. Here are some substitutions:

  • Galangal is tricky. Some say it can be replaced by ginger while other sources swear against it. I’d suggest using some galangal paste instead. Start by stirring a little bit in and gradually add more to taste, if needed.
  • If you can’t find kaffir lime leaves, you can use lime zest. It’s not as strong, but it will do the trick. Use 1/4 teaspoon of lime zest for ever two kaffir lime leaves.
  • Bird’s eye chili is the easiest to replace since you’re looking for heat more than flavor. Peppers you can use instead include serrano, cayenne, habanero, or Scotch bonnet.
  • Lemongrass stalks should be available at most grocery stores and if not, you could use the paste instead, which is found in the refrigerated section with the fresh herbs.

Bowl of soup with hand spooning some broth with a spoon.

Recipe Tips + Tricks.

  1. Adding shrimp to this recipe technically makes it Tom Yum Goong.
  2. If you want to tone down the spice and create a richer, silkier broth, you could add some coconut milk which would make this Tom Kha Gai. This soup typically uses chicken instead of shrimp as well.
  3. See my substitution suggestions above for ways to substitute some of the less accessible ingredients.

More Delicious Soups to Warm You Up:

Have You Made This Recipe?

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Get the Recipe:

Tom Yum Soup

5 from 5 votes

Ingredients

  • 4 cups water
  • 2 TBSP Tom Yum paste
  • 4 TBSP fish sauce
  • 1 TBSP sugar
  • 1 Lime, juiced
  • 3 Garlic cloves, smashed
  • 4 Kaffir lime leaves
  • 1 Stalk of lemongrass, roughly chopped
  • 2 1-inch pieces of galangal
  • 4 Bird's eye chilies
  • 1/2 White onion, cut into wedges
  • 1 cup shimeji mushrooms or sliced oyster mushrooms, You could also use shiitake mushrooms if needed
  • 2 Roma tomatoes, diced
  • large shrimp, peeled, deveined, tail off.
  • 1 handful roughly chopped cilantro or flat-leaf parsley, I suggest flat-leaf parsley for people like me, who don't like cilantro

Instructions 

  • Fill a medium-sized saucepan with 4 cups of water. Add torn kaffir lime leaves, roughly chopped lemongrass, galangal, whole garlic cloves, and sliced chilies. Cover, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
  • Let the water boil for about 5 minutes; add tom yum paste and coconut milk (if using). Bring heat to medium-low Simmer for another 5 minutes.
  • Add the shrimp, oyster mushrooms, onion, tomatoes, fish sauce, and sugar. Cover, and let simmer for 10 minutes.
  • During the last five minutes of simmering, add the cilantro or flat-leaf parsley, and the lime juice.
Tom Yum Soup | Killing Thyme