How to Make Tom Yum Soup with Chicken (Easy Thai Recipe)

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Today we’d like to share a simple and delicious recipe with all of our supporters. If you watch the video below you catch our students making a big pot of the spicy, satisfying tom yum soup with chicken. Then continue to read below for all the details on how to make this recipe at home. We’ve even included a few frequently asked questions at the bottom, to be sure you’re confident when cooking this homestyle soup for your friends and family.

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Tom Yum Recipe Video:

Chicken Tom Yum Recipe (Tom Yum Gai)

This recipe serves 1-2 people, but if you have all your aromatics on hand, it’s easy to make a much larger pot like the one seen in recipe video above. Preparation time is typically 15-20 minutes, while your cooking time can be as quick as 10 minutes.

Primary Aromatics:
3-4 Kaffir Lime Leaves
5-6 Galangal Large Slices
1 Lemongrass Stalk

2-3 Tbsp of fish sauce
Juice from 1 lime
2-3 Tsp of palm sugar
1-2 Tbsp of Thai chili jam

Other Ingredients:
500ml of Water
4-6 Oyster Mushrooms
2-3 Bird’s eye chili
1/2 Beef tomato quartered
1/4 of a roughly chopped white onion
100g of sliced chicken breast
5-6 Cilantro leaves for garnish

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1. Prepare your aromatics. Smack your kaffir lime and tear it, being carful not to remove the leaves from the stem. Pound your lemongrass stalk and tie it in a knot. Cut your galangal root into large slices. For the best final result you want to keep these aromatics large and easily visible (avoid chopping small), because although they are used for their aroma and flavor, they are not typically consumed with the rest of the soup.

2. Roughly chop 2-3 chilies for an average level of spicy. You can chop the chili more finely or add more if you prefer your soup extra spicy.

3. Cut your lime in sections by moving your knife around the core. This will help you remove the seeds more easily. You can also tilt your knife down into a bowl and use the blunt side of your knife for squeezing the lime without making it too messy.

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Cooking Instructions:

1. Bring your water to a boil in small pot and immediately add your aromatics. Cook a few minutes until fragrant.
2. Add your chicken breast and after it cooks, your onion, tomato, chili, and mushrooms.
3. Let the soup lightly boil uncovered as the vegetables soften, while adding your fish sauce, chili jam, and palm sugar.
4. Taste your soup for saltiness and sweetness.
5. If you are satisfied, remove from heat and add lime juice (remember adding lime too soon can cause the juice to become bitter).
6. Serve in a bowl and garnish with cilantro leaves.
7. Remember you can remove the hard to eat aromatics (galangal slices, lemongrass, and kaffir leaves) before serving or remind guests not to eat them.

Frequently Asked Tom Yum Recipe Questions:

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1. Why don’t you add coconut milk to your tom yum soup?

CK: Tom yum has a sibling soup called ‘tom kha’ which is made with coconut milk. The creamy coconut milk is a good match for the spice and a better menu option for people sensitive to the heat from Thai chilies. The confusion comes because some restaurants do a version of tom yum called ‘nam khon’ where they top the soup of with evaporated milk. This is especially common in Bangkok and at wester restaurants abroad. The milk adds a creaminess to the soup without changing the flavor like the coconut milk can, however, many people mistake this for coconut milk.

2. Can I use other mushrooms or forego the chicken altogether?

CK: If you would prefer to make a vegetarian version of this dish you can! The meaty, buttery mushrooms work best. For example, we often mix oyster mushroom with straw, shimeji, and even the small stringy enoki mushrooms. In general most mushrooms will work, however, you may want to limit your portion if you’re using really bulky mushrooms, such as portobello. To completely make this recipe vegetarian you should substitute white salt for fish sauce, and buy or make a vegetarian chili jam.

3. What is the Thai chili jam (nam prik pow) used in the recipe?

CK: An essential ingredient in tom yum, Thai chili jam is not an ingredient many people are familiar with using. The jam is typically made by reducing dried chili with fish sauce, palm sugar, and shallots. A litany of other ingredients are added in homemade recipes and they tend to be more intensely spicy, and less sweet than the ones commonly sold in Asian supermarkets. We often make our own veg and vegan versions for our cooking class guests with special dietary needs.