Tom Yang soup in a serving bowl
Seafoods Soups Thailand

Unlock Thai Flavours: How to Prepare Delicious Tom Yang Soup

I go back four decades ago with Tom Yang soup. Interestingly, I had first tried it in Saudi Arabia in a Thai restaurant that still operates until this time and remains to be my, and many other’s, favorite restaurant in the area. From there on, I had tried its varied renditions from other restaurants here and outside this country, going all the way back to the Philippines and in Thailand itself. Also called Tom Yum soup, it encapsulates the essence of Thai food philosophy – a balance of spicy, sour, sweet, and savory notes.

Making Tom Yang is easier than it looks. And we will share with you the steps here. The hallmark of this dish lies in its use of fresh, aromatic ingredients. At the core of Tom Yang Soup are the distinct flavors of lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, fresh galangal, and fish sauce, complemented by the sharp tang of lime juice and the heat from Thai chili peppers. Tom Yang soup reminds me of the base in the Filipino shrimp sinigang or at times, the fish cooked in guava.

What is Tom Yum Soup?

Tom Yang Soup stands as one of the most popular soups in Thai cuisine, with its origins deeply rooted in the food culture of Thailand. Known for its potent mix of spice and sourness, it’s a dish that excites the palate and warms the body – oh, believe me, it does! In addition to the main ingredients of lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, galangal, chili peppers, lime juice, and fish sauce, Tom Yum Soup often features shrimp or chicken and a variety of mushrooms (oyster mushroom being the most used), and herbs.

It is commonly served as a clear soup, but there are regional variations, like Tom Kha, which include coconut milk for a creamy version. Whether enjoyed in its simplest form or dressed up with additional garnishes, Tom Yuang Soup remains an enduring emblem of Thai culinary flair.

Tom Yang soup in a serving bowl

What goes in Tom Yang Soup

Chili peppers introduce a spicy kick, which can be adjusted to suit your heat preference. Lime juice, a key sour component, balances the spiciness with a refreshing zest, while fish sauce adds a depth of umami. Proteins such as shrimp and fish meat enhance the substance of the soup, while mushrooms contribute an earthy heartiness.

Ingredients You’ll Need

To craft a pot of Tom Yang Soup, you’ll need to gather the following ingredients:

  • Lemongrass: Tough outer layers removed, stalks bruised, and sliced into 2-inch pieces
  • Kaffir lime leaves: Torn into pieces for better flavor release
  • Fresh galangal: Thinly sliced to maximize its aromatic contribution
  • Thai chili peppers: Adjusted in quantity and preparation based on your desired level of heat
  • Shallots: this adds to the character of the sour soup that is Tom Yang
  • Lime juice: Freshly squeezed to ensure the brightest tang
  • Fish sauce: For that indispensable umami backbone
Vegetable ingredients for Tom Yang soup

Additional elements can include:

  • Shrimp, chicken, fish meat, crabs, or other proteins of your choice
  • A mix of mushrooms, such as oyster or straw, for earthy notes
  • Tomatoes and cilantro, if desired, for added freshness and color
  • Coconut milk, if making a creamy version of the soup
  • Sugar to balance the sourness
Fish and shrimp ingredients form Tom Yang

How to make Tom Yum Soup

To bring your Tom Yum Soup to life, start by preparing a broth with shrimp shells, lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, galangal, and chili peppers on medium-high heat in a soup pot. Upon achieving a robust infusion, strain the broth, return it to the pot, and add your protein of choice, letting it simmer to tenderness. Toss in the mushrooms, simmer for a few additional minutes, and season with fish sauce to taste. Detailed steps are in the recipe card below.

Removing shrimp heads from tom Yang soup base

Simmering Tom Yang to perfection

Adding diced fish slices into the Tom Yan soup pot

Adjust the sourness with lime juice, add a dab of Thai chili paste for more heat, and sweeten slightly with sugar if needed. Pour the hot soup over additional fresh lime juice in the serving bowl to preserve the vibrant flavor kick. Serve immediately, garnished with fresh herbs and more chili if desired, for a warming and invigorating meal.

Thai chili paste being added to Tom Yang soup base

Storing Leftover Tom Yang Soup

Storing leftover Tom Yum Soup properly is essential for maintaining its flavor and ensuring food safety.

  • Refrigeration:
  • Cool the soup to room temperature before storing.
  • Transfer the soup into an airtight container to prevent it from absorbing other flavors in the fridge.
  • Consume refrigerated soup within 2-3 days for the best flavor and texture.
  • If the soup contains prawns, consider removing them before reheating to avoid overcooking.
  • Freezing:
  • Use portion-sized containers for freezing, leaving space at the top for expansion.
  • Label each container with the date to keep track of how long it has been stored.
  • Frozen Tom Yum Soup can last for 2-3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator before reheating.
  • Freeze the broth separately and add fresh mushrooms, tomato, and lime juice after reheating for the best taste.

Additional Info/Tips

  • For a delightful vegan spin on Tom Yang, use an assortment of mushrooms like shiitake and cremini, to replicate the texture of meat while remaining plant-based.
  • Tom Yum’s traditional herbs are believed by many to possess medicinal qualities. While the specifics may be folklore, incorporating these herbs indicative of Tom Yum can offer potential health benefits.
  • Capturing the essence of Tom Yum soup begins with the convenient Tom Yum Paste, available at Asian groceries. Customize your base by tweaking the addition of tamarind, fish sauce, lime juice, and sugar to achieve the perfect sour-salty-spicy balance. Add one garlic clove, if you wish to give Thai soups a bit of garlic touch.
  • Lastly, remember that your control over the heat level lies in the preparation of the Thai peppers. Slightly cut, fully slit, or chopped, choose the method that best suits your spice tolerance and let the adventure of crafting traditional Tom Yum Soup begin.
  • Extra fish sauce helps in the taste if you feel that your soup needs further tang.

What are the essential components required to make Tom Yum Soup?

To prepare Tom Yum Soup, you will need the following essential ingredients: 2 stalks of lemongrass, 2 sliced Thai red chili peppers, 1 tablespoon of minced galangal, 1 tablespoon of refined coconut oil, 5 cups of vegetable broth, 1 diced large tomato, and 5 lime leaves.

Why might my Tom Yum Soup have a bitter taste?

The bitterness in Tom Yum Soup often results from adding lime juice too early in the cooking process. To avoid this, ensure you add lime only after the soup is fully cooked. Additionally, bruising the herbs before adding them to the soup can enhance the flavor and aroma without contributing to bitterness.

What are the recommended ways to enjoy Tom Yam Soup?

Tom Yam Soup can be enjoyed in various ways. It pairs well with rice noodles or prawn crackers, which can be served on the side. Alternatively, rice can accompany the soup, although it’s not a necessity. For a richer experience, adding seafood or chicken to the soup is also a popular choice.

Can you describe the taste profile of Thai Tom Yum Soup?

Tom Yang soup offers a unique taste experience, characterized by an initial sourness from the lime juice, followed by saltiness from fish sauce, and a subtle sweetness from name prik pao paste. Thile the lemongrass and makrut lime leaves may not be distinctly tasted, their aromatic qualities are essential to the soup’s overall flavor, enhancing the experience.

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Tom Yang soup in a serving bowl

Delicious Tom Yang Soup

  • Author: Magida
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 50 minutes
  • Yield: 46 servings 1x
  • Category: Soup
  • Method: cooking
  • Cuisine: Thailand


Spice up your life with Tom Yang Soup! This authentic Thai recipe features a fragrant broth bursting with hot, sour, and savory flavors. Lemongrass, galangal, and lime leaves create the base, while shrimp, mushrooms, and a touch of creaminess make it a satisfying meal.


  • 750g raw shrimp
  • 250g fish slices (diced)
  • 6 cups water
  • 2 stalks lemongrass, quartered
  • 23 shallots
  • 1-inch piece of galangal
  • 5 pieces Kaffir lime leaves
  • 12 Thai red finger chillies
  • 1/2 cup sliced mushrooms (or small oyster mushrooms, etc.)
  • 1 tsp sugar (optional)
  • 2 tsps Thai chili paste (also called name prik pao)
  • 2 tbsps fish sauce
  • 4 tbsps fresh lime juice (about 2 limes)
  • cilantro leaves for garnish


  1. Peel the shrimp, remove the heads, and set them aside separately.
  2. Place the water, shrimp heads and shells and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and let simmer for 10 minutes. Remove the shells and heads from the stock using a strainer. This broth will become our soup base.
  3. Smash the lemon grass with the face of the knife. Cut them into 2-inch lengths, and add them to the pot. Also add the shallots, galangal, lime leaves, Thai chilies, and mushrooms. Continue to simmer.
  4. Add the Thai chili paste, sugar (if using) and fish sauce. Stir.
  5. Add the shrimp and diced fish meat and continue to simmer until the they shrimp and fish are cooked through.
  6. Add the lime juice. Do not stire anymore. The soup is ready to be served.
  7. Garnish each soup serving with cilantro leaves.

Keywords: Tom Yang soup, tomg Yang soup recipe, Tom Yum

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