Homemade Tom Yum Soup Recipe, Thai Hot and Sour Soup, Fish Free, Gluten Free, Allergy Friendly

I think one of the most well known of Thai dishes, and especially soups, is tom yum. This is a hot and sour soup, often made with shrimp, but not necessarily. I already have a recipe on my blog for tom kha gai, which, to be honest, is not tremendously different from this one, but they're both good, so why not include both?
I tried to look up what the difference is between these two soups, and this is one of the websites that I found that explained it best. Tom means boiled in Thai, so soups generally start with that. Yum is a mix of flavors that includes sweet, sour, and spicy. So tom yum means sweet, sour, spicy soup.
Kha means galangal, in the ginger family, so tom kha is soup that has galangal as the base of its flavor. Add gai or kai, which means chicken, and you have tom kha gai, which is galangal chicken soup.
Tom kha gai is made with coconut milk, whereas tom yum can be made clear, or with evaporated milk, or with coconut milk. When its made with coconut milk, its called tom yam kathi, and when its with chicken, its got the word gai added to the end.

So while this version, having coconut milk, and chicken broth, are rather similar to tom kha gai, other versions aren't necessarily as similar.
This version, being tom yum, has sweetener added, while tom kha gai does not.

Tom yum generally requires fresh lemongrass, but I know how hard it can be to get that in some places, so I used dried lemongrass (from a spice store) for mine. I left out the kafir lime leaves which are hard to get, and used ginger instead of galangal, because that's what I have available.

I loved this, and could eat bowl after bowl of this. But you have to enjoy hot and sour to enjoy this one, so only some of my kids enjoyed it.

This version, being fish free, is great for anyone with a fish allergy, and as it is gluten free and free of the top 8 allergens, is also allergy friendly and paleo legal as well.

Homemade Tom Yum Soup Recipe, Thai Hot and Sour Soup, Fish Free, Gluten Free, Allergy Friendly

2 teaspoons dried lemongrass + 2/3 cup boiling water
2/3 cup dried shitake mushrooms + 1 cup boiling water
1/3 cup oil of choice
1 tablespoon ginger
3 cloves garlic
2 cups chopped tomatoes, or 2 tomatoes
9 cups chicken broth
1 can (400 gr) coconut milk
2-3 teaspoons salt (or to taste)
1 tablespoon and 1 teaspoon gluten free soy sauce or coconut aminos
1/4-1/3 cup lemon juice (or to taste)
4-5 teaspoons sweetener of choice, or to taste
Hot pepper to taste
Rice vermicelli (optional)
Fresh mushrooms (optional)
Bean sprouts (optional)
Cilantro (optional)
Basil (optional)

1. Soak your lemongrass in boiling water for at least 20 minutes. Soak your shitake mushrooms in boiling water, at least 20 minutes.

2. Chop up your garlic and ginger. Saute in oil for a few minutes in a large pot.

3. Chop up your tomatoes. Add to the pot and cook for a few more minutes.

4. Add the chicken broth and coconut milk to your pot

5. Strain your lemongrass tea and pour the liquid into the pot.

6. Remove your shitake mushrooms from the water and chop up, then add to the pot. Carefully pour the water into another container, making sure that any dirt that came off the mushrooms doesn't get transferred, then pour into the pot.

7. Bring to a boil and cook for approximately 20 minutes.

8. Chop your hot pepper. Add salt, lemon juice, soy sauce or coconut aminos, sweetener, and hot peppers to your soup, adjusting it to taste. Start with a smaller amount and then add more as needed/desired. 

9. Cook for approximately 10 minutes, so the pepper gets fully cooked.

10. If desired, add a bit of rice vermicelli to the pot, and cook until softened.

11. Serve with sliced raw button mushrooms and bean sprouts, and topped with cilantro and fresh basil, as desired.


Have you ever had tom yum soup? What was in it? Does this look like a recipe you'd try?

Penniless Parenting

Mommy, wife, writer, baker, chef, crafter, sewer, teacher, babysitter, cleaning lady, penny pincher, frugal gal


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  1. I love Tom Yum Soup. Thank you for the recipe. I will make it this week for dinner.

  2. This looks yummy! My husband loves Tom yum but we have never tried making it at home. Can you buy dry lemongrass? Did you dry your own? Seems I remember you mentioning you have some growing in your garden... I would love instructions for drying it as I will probably have to buy fresh in a package and won't use it all in one recipe... Thanks for the great post!

    1. So the stuff in my garden died. Rotted or something. So no, this isn't using that. It's dried stuff i bought from a spice and tea store. But to dehydrate I'd just hang the leaves.

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