Home » All Recipes » Soups & Stews » Tom Yum Soup (Thai Soup Recipe)

Tom Yum Soup (Thai Soup Recipe)

Tom Yum Soup is a sweet-sour-spicy shrimp soup you’ll crave! This easy recipe features fresh shrimp, galangal, makrut leaves, and lemongrass for restaurant-worthy flavor.

A bowl of Thai soup with shrimp, garnished with cilantro.

A Beloved Thai Recipe You Can Make at Home!

So you guys probably know by now that I like making soup – it’s the ultimate comfort food, and so easy to pack with nutrients from veggies, meats, bone broths… a health junkie’s dream food, basically. Plus, most soup recipes are easy one-pot meals. That’s music to any busy mom’s ears, am I right?

This Thai tom yum soup is a terrific example of how that works. It’s loaded with goodies like shrimp, galangal, mushrooms, chilis, and garlic. If you need something that is both a nourishing, comforting meal and a spicy pick-me-up, you’ve got to try it! Skip the takeout and get your Asian food fix with this easy, good-for-you recipe.

Why Is It Called Tom Yum Soup?

According to the Michelin guide, “tom” means boil, while “yum” refers to the “mixed” flavors in the soup: spicy, sour, and sweet. You may also see this soup called tom yum goong, because “goong” means shrimp.

Raw shrimp on a plate.

What Does Tom Yum Consist Of?

So what do you need for this healthy, zesty recipe? Some of the ingredients may not be available at your local grocery store, but in that case, all the more reason to check out an Asian grocery store instead. Asian grocery stores are often treasure troves of fresh, good quality, and hard-to-find ingredients.

  • Shrimp: 10 ounces of large to extra large shrimp, shells on. We’ll be using the shells for the broth, and the meat for the soup ingredients.

For the Broth:

  • Shrimp Shells: Reserved from peeling the shrimp.
  • Onion: Sliced sweet yellow onion. 
  • Garlic: A couple of garlic cloves, smashed with the side of your knife.
  • Lemongrass: Look for firm, unblemished stalks of lemongrass. Peel away the outer layers, and smash the inner stalk.
  • Galangal: Cut the galangal into slices. You can substitute sliced ginger, if you don’t have galangal.
  • Chilis: Thai chilis, jalapeños, or other spicy chilis.
  • Makrut Lime Leaves: Also known as kaffir lime leaves, torn roughly.
  • Water
  • Broth: Chicken or vegetable stock/broth, preferably low-sodium.
Onions, mushrooms, chilis, and cilantro on a plate.

 Soup Ingredients 

  • Shrimp Meat: As mentioned above.
  • Mushrooms: Any kind of mushroom will work. I like to use a mixture of different kinds for variety. 
  • Onion: Sweet yellow onion, peeled and cut into thin wedges
  • Canned Tomatoes: Look for fire-roasted diced tomatoes.
  • Sugar: Coconut sugar is my go-to. Light brown sugar or even granulated sugar would also work just fine.
  • Thai Chili Paste: Nam Prik Pao, or similar.
  • Coconut Cream:  Or coconut milk, if you don’t have coconut cream.
  • Fish Sauce: Don’t be alarmed by the intense, fishy smell of fish sauce. Once it’s added to the soup, it tastes amazing! Do not skip this ingredient or the soup will Be disappointingly bland, even with all the other ingredients. 
  • Lime Juice:  Freshly-squeezed lime juice is good, but bottled lime juice is also fine.


  • Cilantro: Fresh cilantro, chopped.
  • Chili: Extra slices of chili for those who like even more heat.

Are Galangal and Ginger the Same?

These two ingredients look similar, and you can swap ginger for galangal if necessary. However, if you can find real galangal for this recipe, definitely use it! It’s extra-bold with a sharp, citrus taste that regular ginger doesn’t have, and it really makes the soup broth sing!

Lifting a bite of shrimp and vegetables from a bowl of soup.

How to Make Tom Yum Soup

Like many Asian recipes, this one involves some prep work up front, which makes the cooking process fairly streamlined. Here’s how to do it:

Broth, vegetables, and aromatics in a soup pot.

Make Broth

  1. Prep the Shrimp. To get started, peel the shells off of the shrimp. If the shrimp still have their heads on, cut those off. Place the shells (and heads if you have them) in a pot, and set the meat aside in a clean, covered dish.
  2. Cook the Broth. Add the garlic, chili, lemongrass, lime leaves, galangal, stock, and water to the pot with the shells. Bring this mixture to a simmer on high heat, cover, and reduce the heat to medium. Simmer for 10 minutes.
  3. Strain the Broth. Using a sieve or very fine colander, strain the broth into a clean, heatproof dish or another large pot. Discard the shrimp shells and other solid ingredients, and return the broth to the same pot, this time over low heat.
Broth in a saucepan.

Make the Soup

  1. Add the Veggies.  To the simmering broth, add your onions and mushrooms, and simmer them for 3 minutes.
  2. Add the Tomatoes and Shrimp. Next, add in the tomatoes, and simmer for 1 minute, followed by the shrimp. Simmer for 2 minutes, or until just cooked through.
  3. Stir in the Remaining ingredients. Stir in your coconut sugar, Thai chili paste, fish sauce, and coconut milk, and simmer for 1 minute. Add the lime juice, and taste the soup. Adjust the sweetness (coconut sugar), saltiness (fish sauce), and sourness (lime juice) to your taste.
  4. Enjoy! Ladle the finished tom yum soup into bowls, and serve with fresh cilantro and fresh chili!
A saucepan of tom yum soup.

Cook’s Notes

Tips for making this recipe? You got it! Those helpful hints are my best advice for making perfect tom yum soup at home. Enjoy!

  • Lime Leaves: If you can’t find makrut lime leaves, substitute bay leaves, with some fresh lime zest for a fruity edge. You can also simply leave them out – the soup will still have tons of flavor.
  • Meats: Feel free to use chicken or pork along with the shrimp for extra protein.
  • Rice or Noodles: Tom Yum is a meal in a bowl, especially if you serve it over sticky rice or add tender noodles (I like rice noodles or zoodles) to the pot.
Homemade tom yum soup.

Easy Serving Suggestions

What should you serve alongside this fragrant, spicy soup? If you’re using tom yum as a main dish, serve it with rice. If you are serving it as an appetizer, go with your favorite Thai or pan-Asian dish. Here are a few ideas for rounding out your menu.

  • Curry: Thai cuisine is famous for its spicy curry recipes – for an easy, Paleo-friendly version, try this Paleo Thai Broccoli Chicken Curry.
  • Fried Rice: Everyone loves fried rice, and this easy Shrimp Fried Rice recipe is a favorite. You can make it with shrimp to keep the shellfish theme going, or substitute chicken for a change of pace.
  • Stir Fry: If you like stir fry, you will love this make-at-home Paleo Asian Stir Fry with colorful veggies and tender beef!

How to Store and Reheat Tom Yum Soup

Store leftover tom yum soup in your refrigerator for up to 3 days. Use an airtight container for maximum freshness. Reheat on the stove over low heat, until the soup is just heated through. 

Can I Freeze This?

Because this soup contains fresh shrimp and fresh, watery veggies, I do not recommend freezing. Freezing, defrosting, and reheating this delicate soup will blunt the flavors and could cause the shrimp to be tough, while the vegetables turn mushy.

A bowl of Thai soup with shrimp, garnished with cilantro.

Tom Yum Soup (Thai Soup Recipe)

Tom Yum Soup is a sweet-sour-spicy shrimp soup you’ll crave! This easy recipe features fresh shrimp, galangal, makrut leaves, and lemongrass for restaurant-worthy flavor.
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time20 minutes
Total Time35 minutes
Servings: 4


  • 10 ounces of large to extra large shrimp shells and meat separate (do not discard shells).


  • 1 cup of sweet yellow onion sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic smashed
  • 2 stalks of lemongrass outer layers peeled, smashed
  • 3-5 ” piece of Galangal cut into slices (you can substitute with ginger)
  • 2 Thai or jalapeno chilis
  • 5 kaffir lime leaves torn roughly (optional)
  • 3 cup water
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock/broth low sodium


  • 4 ounces mixed mushroom
  • ½ sweet yellow onion peeled and cut into thin wedges
  • 1-14.5 ounce can of fire roasted diced tomatoes
  • 1-2 tablespoons coconut sugar
  • 1 1/2 tbsp Thai roasted chili paste
  • ½ cup of coconut cream
  • 3 tablespoons fish sauce plus more to taste
  • 2-3 tablespoons fresh lime juice


  • Fresh cilantro chopped
  • Extra Slices of chili


Make the Broth

  • Peel the prawns. Place shells in a pot, Set meat aside.
  • Add the garlic, chili and lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves (if using), galangal, stock and water. Bring to simmer on high heat, cover, then reduce to medium and simmer for 10 minutes.
  • Strain the broth, discard the prawn shells etc, then return broth into the same pot over low heat.

Make the Soup

  • Add onions and mushrooms, simmer for 3 minutes.
  • Add tomatoes, simmer for 1 minute.
  • Add prawns, simmer for 2 minutes or until just cooked.
  • Stir in sugar, Thai Chili Paste, fish sauce and coconut milk, simmer for 1 minute.
  • Add lime juice, then taste. Adjust sweet (sugar), salt (fish sauce) and sour (lime) to your taste
  • Ladle into bowls and serve with fresh cilantro and fresh chili!
Course: Soup
Cuisine: Thai


More Nourishing Soup Recipes

Let Us Know What You Think!

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating:

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Scroll to Top