Thailand’s Signature Dish No. 1 : Creamy Tom Yum Soup


Tom Yum soup is one of Thailand’s most famous dishes and is considered one of the best soups in the world. With flavors of lemongrass, galanga, kaffir lime leaves, fresh Thai chilies and fresh lime juice, this soup is both healthy and refreshing to the taste buds. If you want to make an amazing and authentic soup, this is the recipe for you.

empty yum goong


We will start by killing a widespread misconception in food Sweden, Galanga can be replaced with Ginger. You ca n’t , not if you want to cook Tom Yum! It’s like saying you can replace onions with potatoes.

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Two variations of Tom Yum soup

If you love eating Tom Yum soup, you may already know the two main variations of the dish.

Tom Yum Goong Nam Sai is the clear version of the soup, while Tom Yum Goong Nam Khon is the creamy milk version.

It is important to note that the creamy variant is not made with coconut milk, as many people think, but with concentrated milk. In this recipe, I will show you how to make both variations, depending on which style you prefer.

Basic ingredients for tom yum soup

The absolutely essential ingredients for this soup are the trio of Thai spices:

These three ingredients give Tom Yum soup its distinctive flavor and are essential for a complete dish. Other key ingredients include Thai chilli, mushrooms, coriander, tomato, onion, lime juice, sugar and fish sauce.

I like to use an ingredient called Nam Prik Pao in my Tom Yum recipe, and it’s especially necessary if you’re making the creamy version. Nam Prik Pao is a Thai roasted chili sauce that is rich in flavor and usually bought in cans.

Tips and techniques for Tom Yum soup

  • Do not use chicken stock in Tom Yum soup. It is completely unnecessary! We don’t use chicken broth in Thai cooking as in Western cooking. Tom Yum soup should taste like shrimp, not chicken!
  • Unfortunately, it is difficult to substitute anything for the kaffir lime leaves to get the right flavor. The sour taste comes from the various citrus-scented ingredients.
  • I serve the soup directly into individual bowls for each person.
  • If you don’t want the soup to be spicy, reduce the amount of chilies or leave them out.

Frequently asked questions(FAQ)

Can I use ginger instead of galangal?

No. If you can’t find fresh galangal, look for frozen or dried, or skip it. Many people want to substitute ginger because they look similar (although you will never mistake one for the other). But so do apples and pears, and they taste like very different fruits!
Read more about Galangal here

Is tom yum goong spicy?

Generally speaking, yes, but it is customizable.
Tom yum is supposed to be spicy, but it runs the gamut from mild to fiery. So if your tolerance is low, you can just use 1 Thai chili for this recipe and it will just tickle a bit.

What herbs are in tom yum soup?

Lemongrass, galangal and Kaffir lime leaves are the 3 main herbs in tom yum soup. However, if you can’t get access to galangal, the tom yum soup will still be good with just lemongrass and lime leaves.

How do I make tom yum soup with other Protein (meat)?

You can find tom yum made with almost any protein in Thailand. Experiment to find what suits you best

How do I make a vegan tom yum soup?

Although it is not common to find a vegan tom yum soup in Thailand, it is quite possible to make one. By using a variety of mushrooms, the soup can be made so tasty that you don’t miss the meat.

Is tom yum goong soup healthy?

This is a soup you can eat every day without feeling guilty.
It is light, and full of food protein with lots of mushrooms. You can also use a strong broth as a base for tom yum soup, making it more nutritious.
The tom yum herbs are traditionally believed to have medicinal properties and are seen as “generally good for you”

Tom yum goong

Tom Yum Soup (Tom Yum Goong)

Thailand’s signature dish
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Shrimp stock from scratch 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Servings 4 pers
Calories 91 kcal


For shrimp stock

  • 12 st Shrimp with shell and heads (more shrimp gives more shrimp flavor)
  • 15 ml Oil (Neutral Oil)
  • 1,1 l Water
  • 0,5 st Onions (chopped)

For Soup

  • 960 ml Shrimp stock (see recipe above)
  • 12 st Shrimps (preferably with the head still if possible)
  • 1 stem Lemongrass (use 2 if they are small)
  • 6 st Kaffir lime leaves
  • 7-8 discs Galangal
  • 2-5 st Thai Chili (depending on your tolerance for spice and taste. If Thai chili is too strong, switch to a weaker chili)
  • 720 ml Sponge Use oyster mushrooms, or another type of Asian mushroom such as shimeji, enoki or fresh shiitake.
  • 60 ml Thai Chili Pasta
  • 45 ml Fish sauce
  • 120 ml Lime juice (Preferably freshly squeezed)
  • 5 ml Sugar (Palm sugar or Brown sugar)
  • Coriander (for garnish)


For shrimp stock

  • Peel the prawns and remove the heads, then put all the shells and heads in a stainless pan with a little vegetable oil. Fry on medium heat and squeeze any sauce from the shrimp heads.
    12 st Shrimp with shell and heads, 15 ml Oil
  • When the bits on the bottom of the pot start to brown and smell wonderfully like grilled shrimp, deglaze with the water and scrape all the bits off the bottom of the pot.
    1,1 l Water
  • Add the onion, if desired, and simmer over medium heat for 45 minutes. Strain and make sure to get all the liquid out of the shrimp heads. You need about 1L for the soup, but if you don’t have enough, you can add water.
    0,5 st Onions

For Soup

  • Add shrimp or chicken stock, lemongrass, Kaffir lime leaves, galangal and chili to the pot. Bring to a boil and let it boil for about 5 minutes until you smell the herbs from the pot.
    960 ml Shrimp stock, 1 stem Lemongrass, 6 st Kaffir lime leaves, 7-8 discs Galangal, 2-5 st Thai Chili
  • When the soup has finished simmering, add the oyster mushrooms and let the soup boil again.
    720 ml Sponge
  • When the soup comes back to a boil, add the shrimp and when the soup just starts to bubble again, turn off the heat. Let the residual heat of the soup cook the shrimp completely; another minute or so. (If you are using very large shrimp, you may need to cook it longer, but check first to avoid overcooking the shrimp).
    12 st Shrimps
  • Add lime juice, fish sauce, chili paste and sugar and stir. Taste and adjust the seasoning to your liking. (You may need to add a little more sugar, depending on how sweet your chili paste is).
    60 ml Thai Chili Pasta, 45 ml Fish sauce, 120 ml Lime juice, 5 ml Sugar
  • Garnish with cilantro leaves and serve with rice, or turn it into a “Kuay Tiew Tom Yum” by pouring the soup over rice noodles for a pho-style meal!


Galangal, lemongrass and makrut lime leaves are traditionally left in the soup as a garnish, but they are very tough in large pieces and are not meant to be eaten. Make sure you let your guests know not to eat the herbs or remove them before adding the mushrooms.


Calories: 91kcal
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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