Craving for something spicy, tangy and flavorful from your favorite Thai restaurant? This Tom Yum Gai recipe is the perfect one to try your hands at.
If you love authentic Thai food, you've got to try this easy hot and sour soup which packs in the goodness of chicken with lots of veggies, and can easily be turned into a comforting and healthy meal the whole family will love.
Plus, this spicy chicken soup is gluten free and dairy free too!
The dish comes together super quick, and is light and comforting, yet so full of flavor and deliciousness. The versatile flavor of this Thai dish is sure to make the soup a total hit in your household, or even with guests.
It gets all the meaty goodness from the chicken, the sour and tangy flavor from the lime leaves and the lemongrass, the earthy heat from the galangal, the heat from the chili and the umami goodness from the fish sauce and the mushroom- it really is a complete package!
You'll get the ingredients for Tom Yum Gai and for most other Thai recipes at Asian markets or any other food specialty store near you.
What's So Great About the Recipe?
My favorite part about this tom yum soup recipe is the fact that it has such bold flavors that may seem complex to achieve, but are actually quite easy.
Another big plus is the fact that you can prep this delicious Thai soup in advance, leaving a few finishing touches, and store it for later.
Chicken: I have used chicken breast for this recipe, but you can use any other cut of chicken. I would recommend using boneless chicken though, because it really makes things so much easier.
Onion: Onions add an extra dimension to most Thai soups, and so it does with this one too. You can use shallots if that's what you have at hand- that works too!
Chicken broth: Clear chicken broth is an absolute must when it comes to making authentic Tom Yum soup. You can also make do with mushroom or veggie broth if you want to.
Mushrooms: While you can use any kind of mushroom for this recipe, I would recommend using button mushrooms. They're super easy to use, and available everywhere too!
Galangal: Galangal lends the Thai hot and sour soup that earthy spicy flavor. If you want to make Tom Yum Gai, this one's absolutely essential.
Kaffir lime leaves: These are also known as makrut lime leaves - you can find them both fresh or dried.
Tomatoes: Tomatoes bring a nice tanginess to the chicken soup recipe. You can use fresh tomatoes or canned tomatoes for this recipe.
Thai chili: Thai bird's eye chili is a hot chili that lends all that spicy flavor to the soup. If you want that perfect balanced spicy and sour flavor in your soup, this one's an absolute must.
Lemongrass: Lemongrass and kaffir lime lend that sour, tangy flavor into the soup.
Fish sauce: Just a dash of fish sauce can lend this soup that delicious umami flavor you're looking for. Use any good quality version for best results.
Cilantro: Some freshly chopped cilantro can really add a touch of freshness and a pop of color to the soup.
Lime: This one's optional, but some fresh lime juice can add that extra punch of sour and tangy flavor in this soup!
Oil & seasonings: You can use any neutral cooking oil and a dash of salt to season the soup.
See recipe card for quantities.
How to Make the Tom Yum Gai
Start to chop the ingredients into bite sized pieces.
Heat oil in a pot and add the oil and onions and cook for a few minutes. Next, add the chicken, mushrooms, Thai chilis, lemongrass stalk, kaffir lime leaves, fish sauce, galangal, and chicken broth and bring it to a boil. Then, bring the heat down and let it simmer for 10-15 minutes until the chicken is cooked.
Now add the tomatoes and cook for another 1-2 minutes, until the tomatoes just soften, but don't break apart.
Remove from heat and stir in the lemon juice and cilantro.
Substitutions & Variations
- You can also bring in a bit of flavor variation by adding some coconut milk into the mix and turning it into an easy Tom Kha Gai, which has all the spicy and tangy flavors you're craving for, but with the gentle and subtle taste of coconut
- If you don't have the Thai bird's eye chilis that the recipe calls for, you can use Thai chili paste instead. The idea is to add an element that brings in a bit of heat into the dish.
- If you want a more spicy soup, you can also add some Nam Prik Pao, which is a popular Thai chili jam into the mix after the chicken is just cooked.
To get a deeper flavor into this soup, you can add some Thai red curry paste or Tom Yum paste to the soup pot and bring to a boil.
How to Store the Leftover Tom Yum Gai
If you have any leftovers, you can transfer them to an airtight container and refrigerate them for 2-3 days. The soup can then be reheated in a pot over low heat and enjoyed whenever you want to.
You can also freeze the soup for up to 2 months. I would, however, not recommend it, as the soup has some fresh veggies, which can lose their texture when they're frozen, thawed and reheated.
Tips & Tricks to Nail the Recipe
- While this tom yum gai chicken soup is already made from hot Thai chilies, if you want a spicier soup, you can chop up some more of the spicy chilies and add them into the mix.
- You can also choose to add some Nam Prik Pao, which is a Thai roasted chili paste that has tons of flavor.
- If you don't have enough lime juice or just want to add another extra layer of flavor and tanginess to the soup, you can add some fresh tamarind paste into it.
- To make the Thai soup creamier, you can also add a teaspoon or two of evaporated milk into the soup while it is still on heat.
How to Serve the Tom Yum Gai
Tom Yum Gai is a flavorful, delicious and comforting soup that can be served in quite a lot of ways, or just enjoyed on its own.
One of the easiest ways to serve this delicious Tom Yum soup is to team it up with some steamed rice. I would recommend using Jasmine rice, because it has the perfect flavor notes that work well with most Thai herbs and foods.
With Roasted Veggies
You can also serve this soup as a part of a nutritious and healthy soup by pairing it with some pan roasted veggies on the side. You can use almost any fresh veggies you have at hand, and lightly sauté them with some simple seasonings of your choice.
With Thai Noodles
Another great idea is to serve this hot and sour chicken soup with some Thai noodles, or even some pan fried noodles if that's what you want.
If you love Tom Yum soup, Thai bird's eye chilies are an absolute must. If you don't have those, and still want the soup to have that sour and spicy flavor, you'll need to add any other spicy chili of your choice along with the lemongrass and galangal.
To make this Tom Yum soup with chicken, almost any cut of chicken can work. Chicken thighs are great, because they're much softer than chicken breasts and cook faster too.
Just remember to keep the soup on heat until the chicken is tender and all cooked through.
You sure can! Shrimp can be a great protein alternative to chicken for this recipe, and can turn the soup into Tom Yum Goong, a specialty of Thailand.
Remember that chicken takes much longer to cook than the shrimp, so you'll need to adjust the cooking time accordingly.
This Tom Yum soup can be thickened by adding a bit of cornflour slurry into it while stirring it continuously. You can do this when you add the mushrooms and other fresh ingredients, so that the soup has the perfect consistency by the time the chicken has cooked.
Looking for other recipes like this? Try these:
Tom Yum Gai | Thai Hot and Sour Chicken Soup
- 2 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 12 ounce chicken breast sliced
- 1-2 small onion diced
- 1 quart chicken broth or stock
- 5 ounces sliced button mushrooms
- 6 pcs kaffir lime leaves scored
- 6 slices galangal about ⅛-inch thick
- 3 stalks lemongrass cut into 2-inch pieces and scored
- 2 Thai bird's eye chile stemmed, seeded, and finely chopped
- 2 tablespoon fish sauce
- 2 small tomatoes cut into 4 wedges each
- 1 lime juiced
- 1 cilantro leaves roughly chopped
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- Start to chop the ingredients into bite sized pieces.
- Heat oil in a pot and add the oil and onions and cook for a few minutes. Next, add the chicken, mushrooms, Thai chilis, lemongrass stalk, kaffir lime leaves, fish sauce, galangal, and chicken broth and bring it to a boil. Then, bring the heat down and let it simmer for 10-15 minutes until the chicken is cooked.
- Now add the tomatoes and cook for another 1-2 minutes, until the tomatoes just soften, but don't break apart.
- Remove from heat and stir in the lemon juice and cilantro. Serve hot!
- Cook to a minimum temperature of 165 °F (74 °C)
- Do not use the same utensils on cooked food, that previously touched raw meat
- Wash hands after touching raw meat
- Don't leave food sitting out at room temperature for extended periods
- Never leave cooking food unattended
- Use oils with high smoking point to avoid harmful compounds
- Always have good ventilation when using a gas stove