(Easily adaptable for Vegetarians*)
Tom Yum Soup, an aromatic, spicy, and sour Thai soup is one my comfort foods. This soup is sour and fragrant from the lemongrass and lime leaves, and soothing - try a homemade version once and you are likely to get hooked forever. Every so often, I crave these flavors; Or, when I'm down with a cold or flu, this soup warms me right up and comforts me so much so that for a brief while, it's almost fine to be sick. This is my contribution to Jugalbandi's Event CLICK: Liquid Comfort.
I stock up on the ingredients for this soup when I visit the local South East Asian store. Properly stored, lemongrass, lime leaves and galangal keep for a very long time in your freezer. (The lime leaves, galangal and lemongrass in the picture have been in my freezer for 5 months. As lemongrass ages, it may become just a touch less aromatic, so you may need to up the amount used in your recipe)
(Clockwise from top right: cilantro, green onions, button mushrooms, ginger, galangal, green chilies, lime leaves, lemongrass, lime)
Galangal tastes like an austere version of ginger, with overtones of camphor, pepper and pine. A taste of it reminded me of the smell of camphor burning in temples in India. It is used a lot in Thai cooking, and freezes beautifully. Certainly worth a try, just for the fun of it. Lime leaves and lemongrass have an aromatic sour fragrance - unlike limes which just taste sour in your food without adding much in the smell department.
Tom Yum Goong Soup
3 cups chicken broth
2 cups water
3-4 stalks fresh lemongrass, sliced on a bias in 2-inch pieces
10 kaffir lime leaves
1-inch piece fresh galangal or ginger or both, sliced
4-6 Thai red or green chilies, sliced
2 tablespoons fish sauce, such as nam pla
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar (optional)
1 (8-ounce) can straw mushrooms, rinsed or 5-6 Button mushrooms sliced
1 pound large shrimp, peeled with tails on
2 limes, juiced
2 green onions, sliced
1 handful fresh cilantro, chopped
Bring the stock and water to the boil over medium heat in a saucepan. Add the lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, galangal, and chiles. Lower the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes to let the spices infuse the broth. For convenience, I remove the lemongrass and lime leaves from the liquid before adding the shrimp. Authentic versions of the soup leave them in, you are expected to avoid eating them in your soup bowl.
Uncover and add the fish sauce and sugar. Simmer for 5 minutes. Toss in the shrimp and cook on very low heat (so the shrimp stay tender and juicy) for about 8 minutes until they turn pink. Remove from the heat and add the lime juice, green onions, mushrooms and cilantro. Taste for salt and spices; you should have an equal balance of spicy, salty, and sour. Keep tasting and adjusting with salt, fresh lime juice and if its not hot enough, one or two finely minced green chillies. Serve hot.
- An overview of Thai ingredients with beautiful pictures from Jugalbandi
- The original recipe from which I adapted mine