Real Tom Yum Soup with Coconut Milk ("Tom Khaa")

  • 30 mins
  • Prep: 15 mins,
  • Cook: 15 mins
  • Yield: 2 servings
Ratings (32)

Aside from being the most famous of all Thai soups, Tom Yum offers many health benefits due to its potent combination of herbs and spices. In fact, this Thai soup is considered to be a "miracle soup" as it appears to have immune-boosting power as a natural remedy for cold and flu viruses, as well as ingredients that are known to be anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory. This version of the soup includes coconut milk (which officially makes it "Tom Khaa"), adding both richness and flavor while still keeping the soup super healthy. 

What You'll Need

  • 3 to 4 cups chicken stock 
  • 1 stalk lemongrass (lower 1/3 finely minced and upper part kept whole)
  • 3 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried crushed chili or to taste
  • 3 kaffir lime leaves (available fresh or frozen at Asian food stores)
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup fresh shiitake mushrooms (sliced thinly)
  • 12 to 14 medium or large raw shrimp (shelled)
  • 1 green and/or red bell pepper (sliced)
  • Optional: a handful of cherry tomatoes
  • 1/2 can coconut milk or to taste
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • Optional: 1 teaspoon brown sugar or a squeeze of lime juice
  • Garnish: 1/3 cup fresh coriander (roughly chopped)

How to Make It

  1. Pour chicken stock into a deep cooking pot and turn heat to medium-high. Add prepared lemongrass to the pot, including upper parts of the stalk you didn't mince. Boil 5 to 6 minutes, or until fragrant.
  2. Reduce heat slightly to achieve a nice simmer. Add garlic, chili, lime leaves, and mushrooms to broth. Continue simmering for another 5 minutes.
  3. Add shrimp, bell pepper, and cherry tomatoes (if using). Simmer 5 to 6 minutes, or until shrimp are pink and plump.
  1. Turn down the heat to low and add coconut milk and fish sauce. Taste-test the soup for spice and salt, adding more chili and/or fish sauce (instead of salt) as desired. If too sour for your taste, add 1 teaspoon brown sugar; if too salty, add a squeeze of lime juice. Add more coconut milk if you want your soup richer or creamier, or if it's too spicy for your taste.
  2. Serve in bowls with fresh coriander sprinkled over. 

Tips and Variations

You can make this soup the traditional way (without coconut milk), as well as vegetarian. If you prefer chicken over seafood, substitute chicken breast for shrimp (cut the chicken into bite-size pieces). Rice noodles can also be added for a delicious noodle soup version of Tom Yum.