Recipe for Thai tom yam soup

Thai tom yam is one of the popular foods you will encounter in Thailand and Laos, mixing salty, spicy and sour flavours.

It uses spices unique to Southeast Asia, in particular:

  • galangal: also known as Siamese ginger has roots which are longer than those of common ginger.
  • lemongrass: is a grey green grass that smells like lemon and is excellent for digestion. The roots are used for curry pastes, the stem (middle part) for soups and the leaves for tea.
  • kaffir lime leaves: have 2 connecting leaves, used in most curry dishes to give a fresh aroma and need to be sliced to be eaten otherwise are too tough.

We took a cooking class with the excellent Thai Farm Cooking School during our press trip in Chiang Mai where we learnt this recipe for Thai tom yam.

Cooking class Chiang Mai Thai tom yam soup
Posing with our awesome teacher Garnet with our freshly made bowls of delicious Thai tom yam soup

Ingredients for Thai tom yam:

  • 1 crushed red chilli pepper (normally it's 1-5 depending on your spice tolerance!)
  • 60g of sliced mushrooms
  • 1 stalk of lemongrass sliced into 1 inch pieces
  • 30g of sliced galangal (or substitute with ginger)
  • 30g of sliced tomatoes
  • 3 kaffir lime leaves
  • 2 teaspoons of lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons of fish sauce (or soy sauce)
  • Half teaspoon of sugar
  • Half tablespoon of tamarind chilli paste
  • 180g of water
  • 5 shrimps (or can also be chicken, pork, tofu or fish according to preference)
  • 1 tablespoon of chopped spring onions
  • 1 stem of coriander
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 leaves of Thai parsley
  • 2 chopped shallots
Thai tom yum cooking class Chiang Mai
Stefan modelling the ingredients for Thai tom yum soup

How to make Thai tom yam

1. Make a broth by putting the water in a saucepan and adding the lemongrass, galangal, shallots, tomatoes and mushrooms.

2. Cook on high heat until boiling, then mix in the tamarind chilli paste and chilli peppers, fish sauce, pinch of salt and sugar, and cook for 10 minutes, high heat, uncovered, stirring.

4. Mix in the shrimps, reduce the heat to medium and cook for 5 minutes, uncovered. If any foam builds up, remove it.

Thai tom yam ingredients in pan cooking class Chiang Mai
The ingredients in pan with shrimp and tamarind chilli paste added

5. Mix in the spring onions, Thai parsley, coriander and kaffir lime leaves and cook for a further 10 minutes on a medium heat, uncovered.

6. Remove from heat and mix in the lime juice.

7. If not spicy enough, add more red chilli pepper.

Nomadic Boys Thai tom yam soup Chiang Mai
Our freshly made bowl of Thai tom yam soup at our cooking class in Chiang Mai

For a more in depth experience, read the Contented Traveller's post comparing Pad Thai to Tom Yum soup.

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Tom Yam soup Thailand travel recipe

About the author

Hi there! We are Stefan and Sebastien, Greek/French couple behind the travel blog Nomadic Boys. Since we met in 2009, we have been travelling all around the world together, visiting over 100 countries.

Our mission is to inspire you, the gay traveller, and show you that you can visit more places in the world than you thought possible, by providing a first-hand account of our travel adventures, to help you plan a fun and safe trip.

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3 thoughts on “Recipe for Thai tom yam soup”

  1. I’ve been making this soup (or a version of it) ever since I got back from Thailand. It’s the best! It reminds me of wondering why I would eat something spicy when it was so hot outside, but I just couldn’t help myself…!

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