Creamy Tom Yum Soup (Thai Hot and Sour Soup)

5 from 15 votes
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This is a simple yet delicious creamy tom yum soup: a Thai hot and sour soup that is aromatic, rich, spicy, and satisfying! Plus, this recipe is customizable, meat-free, and can be made vegan!

A large pot filled with tom yum soup

Does anyone else go through food phases in terms of the region? Recently, I’ve been obsessed with Thai food. I’ve already recently shared recipes for Thai red curry, Green Curry, and a Thai Inspired Pea Soup. Now, it’s time for this delicious tom yum soup. 

Perfect all year round, this Thai tom yum soup combines all my favorite Thai flavors, including lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, Thai chilies, galangal, and Thai basil. All combined in a warm and comforting soup that I adore.

A ladle with tom yum soup filling up a green bowl

If you’re familiar with Thai food, then you’re probably used to seeing this soup available in pretty much all your local Thai restaurants. It’s arguably Thailand’s most common soup and is available EVERYWHERE there, and there’s a reason why. It’s creamy, aromatic, and super satisfying! 

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What Is Tom Yum Soup?

Tom yum is a hot and sour soup originating in Thailand. ‘Tom’ refers to the boiling process of the soup, meanwhile ‘yum’ literally means ‘mixed’ and is known for the hot and sour flavor with plenty of fresh herbs and spices. 

To prepare the soup, you can either use a prepared tom yum paste (called Nam prik pao) made up of chilies, shallots, and garlic or make your own. You then add the stock/water, herbs, and ‘protein’ to this paste. Traditionally, this tom yum Thai soup often includes shrimp, pork, or chicken, too.

A green bowl of tom yum soup

However, this recipe is meat-free, and an excellent base for whatever protein or vegetables you’d like to add. My favorite way to serve it is as Thai vegetable soup with tofu and mixed vegetables. There is also a simple ingredient swap you can make for a fully vegan/vegetarian tom yum soup. 

This particular version is also referred to as ‘tom yum nam khon,’ a variety with coconut milk (or evaporated milk). 

The Step By Step Instructions

Tom Yum Soup Ingredients

Read the recipe notes for ingredient substitutions and suggestions.

First, prepare and chop the various ingredients. Thinly slice the mushrooms (you can leave them whole if using dried shiitake). Also, slice the galangal into disks and dice the tomatoes. Finally, prepare the lemongrass.

Cut off the lower bulb of the lemongrass and remove any tough outer leaves. Then slice into sections. Any tough bits will be inedible and will need to be removed from the soup before serving. Otherwise, it can be kept in.

Chopped ingredients for tom yum soup

Place the chilies, garlic, lime leaves, galangal, and lemongrass in a bowl. Then use a pestle to gently crush the ingredients together into slightly more of a mash.

Chef’s Note: I keep my pieces larger for the ingredients making up what is usually a “paste”. In this way, they don’t crush down into too much of a paste. However, if you prefer a finer texture then feel free to mince the ingredients before crushing them in the mortar and pestle.

Crushing spices for tom yum soup

In a large pan, first heat up the coconut oil, then add the crushed spices mixture and saute lightly for just a minute.

Then add the vegetable broth and coconut milk and stir well.

Finally, add the tomatoes and mushrooms and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for around 10 minutes, until the vegetables are soft.

Steps for cooking tom yum soup

Remove the lime leaves and any tough bits of lemongrass (soft pieces can be eaten in the soup), then your soup is ready to serve. Enjoy!

Optionally garnish with some cilantro or Thai basil.

How To Serve

Serve this soup as an appetizer or alongside coconut rice or noodles as a main.

A green bowl of tom yum soup with a spoon

How To Store

You can store any leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 days or in the freezer for 1 month. 

To reheat, heat gently on the stove or in the microwave. 

A bowl of Tom Yum Soup

Recipe Notes & Variations

  • The kaffir lime leaves: You can substitute the lime leaves with bay leaves, though it will affect the flavor as they aren’t a direct substitution. 
  • Galangal: If you’re unable to find galangal, then you can use ginger instead with a dash of black pepper.
  • Fish Sauce: If you want to make a vegan tom yum soup, then you can use a vegan fish sauce alternative, blend the soy sauce with a sheet of nori and a couple dried shiitake mushrooms, or omit this ingredient – though then you may need to add a little extra of other ingredients. 
  • Coconut Milk: Adjust the amount used based on how rich and creamy you’d like the soup to be. Omit it for a classic tom yum – though you may need some additional stock. 
  • If you find the soup a little too sour, then feel free to add a little extra sugar to balance out the flavor. 
  • If the soup is a little too salty or sweet, then add in extra lime juice. 
  • To customize the level of spice in this soup, you can reduce the number of chilies, add more, or even glug in some chili oil or chili flakes to ramp up the spice. Don’t like spice? You can omit the chili entirely for a soup that is still full of flavor.
  • You could add a variety of different vegetables to this soup, including zucchini, different mushroom varieties, tender stem broccoli, mangetout, baby corn, peppers, bok choy, etc. Optionally add tofu, for extra protein.
  • Make this into a more substantial meal by turning it into a Tom Yum noodle soup. I like to cook my noodles separately for this and then pour the soup over the cooked noodles. 

Top Tip: My homemade Thai red curry paste has a lot of the aromatic elements of this soup base, so feel free to blend up a large batch and use it as the base to this recipe with the vegetable stock

For more soup ideas, check my list of 20+ Winter Soup Recipes!

If you give this Thai hot and sour soup (tom yum soup) recipe a go, then let me know your thoughts and any questions in the comments. Also, feel free to tag me in your recreations @AlphaFoodie.

Tom Yum Soup

5 from 15 votes
By: Samira
This is a simple yet delicious creamy tom yum soup; a Thai hot and sour soup that is aromatic, rich, spicy, and satisfying! Plus this recipe is customizable, meat-free, and can be made vegan!
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Servings: 2 bowls

Ingredients 
 

  • 2 Lemongrass stalks
  • 5 small red thai chilies
  • 1 Galangal
  • 3 large mushrooms
  • 2 kaffir lime leaves
  • 3 small tomatoes
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 large lime juiced
  • 2 cups vegetable stock
  • 1.5 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1/2 tsp coconut sugar
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 cup coconut milk (optional)
  • 1 tsp fish sauce (optional)
  • To garnish (optional) – cilantro leaves or Thai basil leaves

Instructions 

  • First, prepare and chop the various ingredients. Thinly slice the mushrooms (you can leave them whole if using dried shiitake), slice the galangal into disks, dice the tomatoes, and prepare the lemongrass.
    Cut off the lower bulb of the lemongrass and remove any tough outer leaves. Then slice into sections. Any tough bits will be inedible and will need to be removed from the soup before serving- otherwise, it can be kept in.
    Chef's Note: I keep my pieces larger for the ingredients making up what is usually a 'paste', so they don't crush down into too much of a paste. However, if you prefer a finer texture then feel free to mince the ingredients before crushing them in the mortar and pestle.
  • Place the chilies, garlic, lime leaves, galangal, and lemongrass in a bowl and use a pestle to gently crush the ingredients together into slightly more of a mash.
  • In a large pan, first heat up the coconut oil, then add the crushed spices mixture and saute lightly for just a minute.
  • Then add the vegetable broth and coconut milk and stir well.
  • Finally, add the tomatoes and mushrooms and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for around 8-10 minutes, until the vegetables are softened.
  • Remove the lime leaves and any tough bits of lemongrass (soft pieces can be eaten in the soup), add the lime juice, then your soup is ready to serve – enjoy!
    Optionally garnish with some cilantro or Thai basil.

How To Serve

  • Serve this soup as an appetizer or alongside coconut rice or noodles as a main.

How To Store

  • You can store any leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 days or in the freezer for 1 month.
    To reheat, heat gently on the stove or in the microwave.

Video

Notes

  • The kaffir lime leaves: You can substitute the lime leaves with bay leaves, though it will affect the flavor as they aren’t a direct substitution. 
  • Galangal: If you’re unable to find galangal, then you can use ginger instead with a dash of black pepper.
  • Fish Sauce: If you want to make a vegan tom yum soup, then you can use a vegan fish sauce alternative, blend the soy sauce with a sheet of nori and a couple dried shiitake mushrooms, or omit this ingredient – though then you may need to add a little extra of other ingredients. 
  • Coconut Milk: Adjust the amount used based on how rich and creamy you’d like the soup to be. Omit it for a classic tom yum – though you may need some additional stock. 
  • If you find the soup a little too sour, then feel free to add a little extra sugar to balance out the flavor. 
  • If the soup is a little too salty or sweet, then add in extra lime juice. 
  • To customize the level of spice in this soup, you can reduce the number of chilies, add more, or even glug in some chili oil or chili flakes to ramp up the spice. Don’t like spice? You can omit the chili entirely for a soup that is still packed with flavor.
  • You could add a variety of different vegetables to this soup, including zucchini, different mushroom varieties, tender stem broccoli, mangetout, baby corn, peppers, bok choy, etc. You could also add tofu, for extra protein.
  • You can make it into a more substantial meal by turning it into a Tom Yum noodle soup. I like to cook my noodles separately for this and the pouring the soup over the cooked noodles. 
Top Tip: My homemade Thai red curry paste has a lot of the aromatic elements of this soup base, so feel free to blend up a large batch and use it as the base to this recipe with the vegetable stock
Course: Appetizer, Soup
Cuisine: Thai
Freezer friendly: 1 Month
Shelf life: 4 Days

Nutrition

Serving: 1Bowl, Calories: 451kcal, Carbohydrates: 34g, Protein: 8g, Fat: 35g, Saturated Fat: 30g, Sodium: 1713mg, Potassium: 1016mg, Fiber: 4g, Sugar: 13g, Vitamin A: 2346IU, Vitamin C: 187mg, Calcium: 62mg, Iron: 6mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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Recipe Rating




10 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Outstanding!! My daughters and I love this soup. We decided to make it. Came out perfect.. Used brown sugar instead of coconut sugar.

  2. Hey there,

    I am not able to get fresh galangal, but I can get powdered.
    How much would you use of the powder instead of fresh?

    1. Hi Laura,
      You can use 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of powdered galangal. Don’t add it to the pan with the rest of the spices. Instead, add it towards the end when the soup is almost ready. Start with about 1/2 tsp and then you can adjust to taste.
      Also, if you’re unable to find fresh galangal, you can use fresh ginger instead with a dash of black pepper.

    1. Hi Lauren,
      The lime is juiced and then the juice is added to the soup right before serving. I hope this helps.