January 28, 2022

Vegetarian Tom Yum Soup

A steaming bowl of Tom Yum Soup is a perfect recipe to warm you up on a chilly winter day. Tom Yum Soup is Thai preparation which means hot (Tom), sour and spicy (Yum). This sweet-sour-spicy-tangy one pot soup recipe is a perfect blend of all flavors. Tom yum soup is known for its flavorful broth made with lemongrass, kafir lime leaves, galangal, chilies and lime juice. When vegetables, tofu and spices are simmered in this fragrant broth, the aroma of galangal, lemongrass and kafir lime leaves my kitchen and whole house smell so good.

This vegetarian version of Tom Yum soup is not just flavorful but is very hearty, nourishing and light on stomach. This soup is rich in Vitamins, low in calories, help dealing with cough and sore throats. This soup keeps you warm, hydrated and also helps fighting against inflammation.

The ingredients used in this soup like galangal, kafir lime leaves and lemongrass are not easily available everywhere. But do try Asian supermarkets, you will get these ingredients very easily. All these 3 ingredients are very aromatic and give soup its distinct flavor. This soup can be made using substitute like ginger for galangal, lime zest and juice for kafir lime leaves, bay leaves or just Thai curry paste as it has all these 3 ingredients. However, it will make a difference and change in flavors but who want to miss a bowl of warm and hearty soup on cold winter day.

Tom Yum Vs Tom Kha: Sometimes the term Tom Yum soup and Tom Kha soup are used interchangeably. As they both are quite similar having lemongrass, galangal, kafir lime leaves, Thai chilies as their core ingredients. The small but main difference between these two is addition of coconut milk in Tom Kha. Tom Kha also known as Thai Coconut soup is spicy-sour and tangy just like Tom Yum but is creamier in texture. Addition of coconut milk makes Tom Kha little sweater and creamier, where as Tom Yum is more like clear soup.

Give this recipe a try this winter and do share your reviews in comment section below. Stay warm and enjoy this hot bowl of deliciousness!

Cuisine: Thai | Recipe Category: Soups & Stews
Prep Time: 10 Minutes | Cook Time: 40 Minutes | Serving: 4 Servings


For the Soup


Coconut oil

2 Tbsp.


Lemon grass

2 stalks


Onion, white or yellow, sliced

1 medium


Galangal, minced or thinly sliced

1 inch


Garlic, minced

2-3 cloves


Kafir lime leaves

8 pc


Thai chili (Red or Green)

1 Tbsp.


Vegetable broth

6 cups


Mushrooms, sliced
(I have used baby bella)

8 oz or approx. 2 cups


Cherry tomatoes/Tomato,
(I have used 1 pc wine tomato)

8-10 pc/1 pc


Soy sauce

2 Tbsp.


Red chili sauce
 (I have used Huy Fong Chili Garlic Sauce)

3-4 Tbsp.


Coconut sugar/Light brown sugar

1 Tbsp.



To taste


Firm Tofu

8 oz


Fresh Lime/Lemon juice

¼ cup


Fresh coriander, chopped



Fresh basil leaves

7-8 leaves

For Garnishing 


Chili oil

To taste


Lemon wedges

As required


Coriander leaves

As required





Step by Step Instructions:

Get ready with Vegetables

  1. To make this soup, first let’s get all the vegetable ready.
  2. Lemongrass: Wash remove any hard layer of lemongrass. Bruise/smash the lemongrass lightly with the back of your knife or a pestle. Smashing helps lemon grass to release their oil and flavor. Cut the lemongrass around 2-inch pieces. Trim and discard hard ends of lemongrass.
  3. Chilies: I am using here green Thai chilies. Bruise/smash chilies lightly with the back of your knife or a pestle. You can chop and add too. Smashing chilies helps them to release their flavor and oil.
  4. Kafir lime leaves: Peel away kafir lime leaves with your hands from the center to remove ribs. Discard the ribs. Try not to use knife. 
  5. Galangal: Grate, chop or thinly slice galangal. I like mine thinly sliced in soup.
  6. Onion, tomatoes, mushrooms: Slice onion and mushroom lengthwise. Dice tomatoes if using wine or roma. If you are using cherry tomatoes, cut into halves.
  7. Garlic, coriander and basil leaves: Mince or grate garlic. Chop coriander and roughly tear basil with your hands.
  8. Keep all these things ready and keep side.

Prepare Soup

  1. This soup is literally a one pot dish. You can use Dutch oven pot, instant pot or any heavy bottom deep pot to make this soup.
  2. Heat coconut oil in pot and once oil is hot add lemon grass. Sauté for few second or until fragrant. Add onion and sauté for 2-3 minutes or until onion turns translucent.
  3. Next add in sliced galangal and minced garlic. Give it a mix.
  4. Now add kafir lime leaves and bruised chilies. Sauté for 1 minute, so everything release their flavors. To make this soup not much sautéing is needed. 
  5. Add vegetable broth and let it simmer for 10 minutes on medium flame.
  6. Add tomatoes and mushrooms, cover and let everything simmer for another 10-15minutes or until mushroom are soft.
  7. Now add soy sauce, chili sauce, sugar and season with salt. Bring the soup back to the boil and switch off the flame.
  8. Now add diced tofu, lemon juice, coriander leaves and basil leaves. Give it a nice stir. Taste and adjust the seasoning. You can add more of salt, sugar, lemon juice or chili sauce as per your taste buds.
  9. Remove lemon grass, lime leaves or may be galangal pieces before serving. 
  10. Pour the soup in soup bowl, garnish with chili oil, coriander leaves along with lemon wedges on the side. Soup is ready serve. Serve hot!
  11. Keep leftover soup refrigerated for 4-5 days.

Quick Tips:

  1. Oil: I have used coconut oil, but you can use any neutral flavor oil.
  2. Lemon grass: Always bruise/smash the lemongrass lightly with the back of your knife or a pestle to release their oil and flavor. Lemon grass ends are hard, so cut and discard.
  3. Kafir lime leaves: Tear leaves with your hands to remove ribs. Do not use knife and do not chop them.
  4. Galangal: I have mention 1 inch galangal for this recipe. You might want to adjust the amount depending on how mature the root is. If galangal is soft and can be sliced easily it is at its young stage and will have mild flavor and if galangal is hard to slice, that means it is more fibrous and mature. It will have stronger flavor.
  5. Mushrooms: Traditionally to make this soup variety of Asian mushrooms are used like straw, oyster, enoki, shitake etc. Feel free to use whatever mushroom variety is available to you. You also can use dried mushrooms, just do not forget to soak dried mushroom ahead of time as per packet instructions. 
  6. What if you don find lemongrass, galangal and kafir lime leaves: If you can’t find any one these items or all of them, substitute these with Thai curry paste (Red/Green). Thai curry paste has all these ingredients. Just check label for vegan mark as Thai curry paste might have shrimp paste, not suitable for vegetarian cooking. Vegan bands are also widely available in store and online too. And for the aroma use lime zest.
  7. Additional ingredients: Feel free to use vegetable of your choice in this soup like Bok choy, carrots, baby corn, zucchini noodles or even serve on top of rice noodles.

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