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Thai Tom Yum Gai

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If you love hot and sour soup, you need to make this tom yum gai.

You know that when you go out for Thai food, there will be one hot and sour soup that is always on the menu.

When it comes to hot and sour soup, you won’t find any better than tom yum gai.

I can’t get enough of this hot and sour soup and order it every time I go out. Nowadays, however I find it much more convenient and cheaper to make tom yum gai myself.

This tom yum gai recipe was tested here first on the blog but you can now find it in my new cookbook ‘The Curry Guy Thai’

Tom yum gai

So good and easy to make too! Try this tom yum gai!

Getting the right flavour for your tastes.

Making delicious Thai food like this hot and sour soup is all about finding the right balance for your liking. Taste as you go and you will end up with the most perfect of soups.

Some chefs add sugar to this Thai soup but for me, tom yum gai is all about the hot spicy and sour flavour. The sweetness in the fried shallots and tomatoes is perfect for my taste but you can alway add a touch more sugar if you wish.

As you will see in the recipe below, the ingredients you are mixing, like many Thai dishes are lemongrass, galangal, garlic and kaffir lime leaves which when mixed together give a fantastic aroma and flavour.


Chilli is used for the spiciness of the hot and sour soup and fish sauce is used for saltiness. To make the soup more sour, lime juice and tamarind are used.

When is tom yum gai best?

Thai hot and sour soup makes for an amazing starter or main dish. It is delicious served with jasmine rice for a more filling main.

What exactly is tom yum gai soup?

I thought it would be a good idea to break the name down so you have a better idea what you are ordering when you go out for Thai food. It’s a nice bit of trivia to know when you make this hot and sour soup for friends too.

The Thai word ‘Tom’ refers to the boiling process of cooking the soup. ‘Yum’ refers to a spicy salad. So broken down, you are making a hot and sour soup by boiling a spicy mixture of salad vegetables and in this case chicken.

Tom yum is often made with shrimp (prawns) or chicken but you can make it with the main ingredient of your choice. Pressed tofu is really good veggie option for your boiled salad.

What is that other famous Thai soup?

The other famous soup you will almost alway see on Thai menus is called tom kha gai. I love it and have a recipe for that mildly spiced, creamy coconut soup here

Do I need to make a Thai chicken stock first?

I used homemade Thai chicken stock in this recipe. ‘Gai’ means chicken so using Thai chicken stock makes sense.

I haven’t posted a Thai chicken stock on my blog yet but will soon. In the meantime, you can substitute chicken bones in this Thai pork broth recipe which works really well.

Although I used freshly made chicken stock, you could also make this hot and sour soup substituting the same amount of water. Those ‘salad’ ingredients with the chicken will work wonders in this hot and sour soup without having to go to the trouble of making a stock.

You could easily make this same soup into a tom yum goong (prawns) using prawns and prawn stock or water,  or if making tofu tom yum vegetable stock or water.

I have tried many different variations and have never been disappointed.

Tom yum soups are clear and don’t include coconut.

Making Thai Tom Ka Gai Soup

Fry the shallots for a minute or two in the oil.

list of ingredient for Thai hot and sour soup

Some of the essential ingredients. Notice how I chopped the kaffir lime leaves. and smashed the lemongrass and galangal.

Adding aromatics to Thai soup

Add the stock, lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves and galangal and simmer for about 10 minutes.

Adding chicken to Thai spicy soup

Add the chicken.

Adding chillies for spiciness in a Thai soup

Add the chillies.

Making hot and sour Soup

Add the tamarind concentrate.

Making Tom Yum Gai Soup

Stir in the Thai fish sauce.

Finishing Thai spicy soup

In goes the mushrooms, roasted chilli paste and/or Thai red curry paste and coriander (cilantro)

Making Tom Yum Gai Soup

Add the quartered tomatoes and let them cook for a minute or so in the hot soup.

Making Tom Yum Gai Soup

You can always add other veggies. Here I added cabbage, carrots and bean sprouts.

Feel free to experiment with the flavours. Getting Thai food right is all about tasting as you cook. The perfect hot and sour soup for you will be made with just the right amount of hot, sour and sweet for your tastes.

Love Thai food? Try some of these delicious recipes!

Thai Red Curry
Beef Massaman Curry
Chicken Satay and peanut sauce
Thai Drunken Noodles
Steamed Sea Bass with Garlic and Lime Sauce
Tom Kha Gai
Hot and Sour Prawn Soup

tom yum gai soup

Ready to serve!

h2>Special Fourpure Beer Offer!

This tom yum gai is perfect paired with an India Pale Ale or oatmeal stout by The Fourpure Brewing Company!

If you would like to try some, you can order here. Use the discount code thecurryguy20 to receive a 20% discount through the end of March 2021.

tom yum gai soup

Dig in!

Yield: 4 - 6

How To Make Thai Tom Yum Gai Soup

Tom yum gai

Thai tom kha gai soup is delicious and easy to make too. There is no coconut milk in this clear chicken soup. You could substitute other ingredients for the chicken such as tofu.

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes


  • 2 tbsp rapeseed (canola) oil
  • 2 banana shallots – finely chopped
  • 1 litre (4 cups) Thai chicken broth
  • 1 lemongrass stalk – smashed and cut into about five pieces
  • 8 kaffir lime leaves – stems removed and thinly sliced
  • 2.5cm (1 inch) galangal – thinly sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic - roughly chopped
  • 250g ( ½ lb) chicken breast – cut into bite sized pieces
  • 8 mushrooms – quartered
  • 1 tbsp Thai red chilli paste – Shop bought is fine
  • 1 tbsp roasted Thai chilli oil with some of the goop at the bottom
  • 3 – 4 tbsp Thai fish sauce
  • 1 tbsp tamarind concentrate
  • 3 green bird’s eye chillies – smashed and cut lengthwise
  • 1 small handful of coriander (cilantro) – roughly chopped
  • 2 tsp palm or white sugar (optional and to taste)
  • 3 green onions – roughly chopped
  • 2 tomatoes – quartered


  1. Heat the oil in a large pot of medium-high until shimmering hot. Add the sliced shallots and fry or about a minute. Then add the stock/water, lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves and galangal and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer this aromatic water/stock for about 10 minutes.
  2. Now stir in the chicken and continue cooking until the chicken is cooked through. This should take about five minutes. Add the tamarind concentrate and stir well.
  3. Stir in the mushrooms, red chilli paste, chilli oil with some of the goop at the bottom, fish sauce, chillies, tamarind and coriander (cilantro). If you are at all worried about adding too much of any one ingredients, taste as you go!
  4. Once all of these ingredients have been added, taste it again and adjust the seasoning to taste. At this stage, you could also add a little sugar if you want it sweeter.
  5. To finish, add the quartered tomatoes and let them cook through in the hot stock. Add the spring onions (scallions) and any other vegetables you would like to add. In this recipe I added bean sprouts, cabbage and carrots but this is totally optional.
  6. To serve, divide the soup between 4 to 6 bowls and enjoy.

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This recipe calls for both Thai red chilli paste and also Thai chilli oil. If you don’t like a lot of heat, you can omit one or both.

I hope you enjoy this, my favourite hot and sour soup recipe. If you do try it, please let me know in the comments. I would love to hear from you.


Monday 19th of September 2022

This is exactly what I was looking for. Bought the ingredients and going to make it today. Thank you for the recipe!

Dan Toombs

Thursday 22nd of September 2022

Great to hear, hope it turned out well. Thanks Dan

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