Tom Yum Soup - Best Ever!

Thai Tom Yum Soup
Thai Yum Soup. D.Schmidt for About.com
    22 mins
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As a Thai chef, I've been making Tom Yum Soup for over twenty years now, tweaking the recipe to make it better and better.  When I first sipped this incredible soup, I was overcome by the almost intoxicating flavors of lemongrass, garlic, lime, coconut milk and chili combined in a chicken stock base and topped up with shrimp.  Lately I've been adding a few more vegetables that i find work beautifully in the soup and add even more flavor. If you like spicy, I recommend either fresh red chilies or getting yourself a bottle of chili oil and adding anywhere from a few drops to a few teaspoons.  Or leave the chili out for a terrific mild Tom Yum.  Once you've made this special Thai soup, I promise it will stay on your family favorite list forever.  As my husband says, "Put it in the rotation!"    

 

What You'll Need

  • 12-14 medium or 8-10 large raw shrimp, shells left on or removed (see note below recipe)
  • 6 cups chicken stock
  • 1 stalk lemongrass, lower 1/3 finely minced (for more instructions, see link)
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 Tbsp. minced onion
  • 1 thumb-size piece galangal or ginger
  • 3 kaffir lime leaves (if you can't find them, use bay leaves)
  • 1 tsp. lime or lemon juice
  • 1.5 Tbsp. fish sauce
  • 1/2 Tbsp. soy sauce
  • 1 thick carrot, sliced
  • 1-2 cups shiitake or your favorite mushrooms, left whole
  • 1 small zucchini, sliced into half-moons
  • 1 generous cup cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
  • 1/4 to 1/3 can coconut milk, adding more or less to taste
  • a few drops to a few tsp. chili oil , OR 1-2 small red chilies, minced
  • 1/3 cup fresh coriander
  •  optional: brown sugar to taste, crushed chili pepper flakes

How to Make It

  1. Pour stock into a deep cooking pot and switch heat to medium-high. Add prepared lemongrass, including upper sections of the stalk you didn't mince. Boil hard 5 to 6 minutes to soften.
  2. Add garlic, onion, galangal or ginger, lime leaves (or bay leaves), lime or lemon juice, fish sauce, soy sauce and carrots. Reduce heat slightly, cover, and continue lightly boiling 5 minutes.
  3. Add mushrooms and zucchini, and continue lightly boiling another 5 minutes. 
  1. Add shrimp and cherry tomatoes. Cook 3 minutes, or until shrimp are pink and plump.
  2. Turn down the heat to low and add 1/4 can coconut milk plus more fish sauce to taste.  This is where the soup comes to its perfection.. Test-test for the most flavorful you can make it without tilting over into too-salty, adding more fish sauce until you're happy with the flavor.  If you want spice, add the chili oil, fresh chili, or chili flakes.  If too sour for your taste, add a little brown sugar.  If it turned out too salty, add a squeeze of lime juice. Add more coconut milk if you want your soup richer/creamier, or if it's too strong for your taste.
  3. Serve with fresh coriander sprinkled over, and Enjoy!  (See below for tip on cooking shrimp with or without shells)

 

To Shell or Not to Shell?  While they can be messy to remove while eating, leaving the shells on shrimp adds infinitely more flavor to the soup.  In Thailand what cooks sometimes do is remove the shells but add them to the soup, removing just before eating.  Either way, you get a boost more flavor.  Give it a try!