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13 Jun 2012

Cold combat: Vegan Tom Yam

AKA Thai Hot Sour Soup

I’m very fond of spicy food and warn you in advance: this is not just any hot soup. It’s really HOT soup, guaranteed to get your sweat on. BYO tissues!
Vegan Tom Yam / Thai spicy sour soup
It’s been a very wet and cold week here in Sydney and it seems so many people are catching one lurgy or another. Everywhere I turn there’s someone coughing or sneezing on me.

So after shivering and feeling a bit of a sniffle coming on, I decided to go on the offensive. It was time to make my go-to soup, Tom Yam, filled with loads of warming, germ-fighting goodies.

Often served in Thailand and other parts of South East Asia, Tom Yam is also called Tom Yum or hot sour soup. It’s filled with many flavours and ingredients including chillies, galangal (ginza), lemongrass, kafir, garlic and lime.

I first learned to make Tom Yam in Chiang Mai, up in the north of Thailand. I’d never tried this soup before as it’s usually made with a base of shrimp, prawn and/or meat broth.

My cooking teacher helped me substitute ingredients from her original recipe to keep the balance of spicy, sour, salty flavours. This soup is so fragrant, spicy and delicious. I’d like to share with you this adapted recipe, straight from my Chiang Mai cookbook.

Recipe: Vegan Tom Yam / hot sour soup

WARNING: This makes a very fiery soup, so if you can’t tolerate much spice, I’d suggest reducing the chillies considerably. Those Thai green bullets pack a punch!


Making vegan Tom Yam / Thai spicy sour soup

  • 4 cups (1 litre) vegetable stock or water (I use a mix of Massel Chicken-style liquid stock and water)
  • 6 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 6 shallots, sliced (or use a red onion if you can’t find shallots)
  • 2 lemongrass stalks, bruised, slice lower third of stalks into 2cm pieces
  • 10 thin slices of galangal / ginza (or use ginger if you can’t get fresh galangal)
  • 2 cups button mushrooms, quartered (even better if you can find fresh straw mushrooms)
  • 2 tomatoes, sliced into pieces lengthways
  • 20 small, green Thai bullet chillies, sliced in half lengthways  (no, that’s not a typo – see warning above)
  • ½-1 teaspoon dulse powder/granules
  • 2 tablespoons vegan fish sauce (or just use soy sauce)
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 5 kaffir lime leaves, torn into pieces and stem removed
  • 3 tablespoons lime juice
  • ½ cup coriander leaves, chopped
  • OPTIONAL stuff:
    ½ cup firm tofu, cut into 1cm cubes (I omitted the tofu in the version pictured)
    ½ bunch Enoki mushrooms, chopped at stem


  1. In a large saucepan, add the stock/water, dulse powder, tofu (if using), garlic, shallots, lemongrass and galangal and bring to the boil.
  2. Add in the mushrooms (including Enoki if using) and tomatoes and bring back to the boil.
  3. Add in the chillies, kaffir lime leaves, vegan fish sauce and soy sauce. Simmer gently for 3 minutes.

Vegan Tom Yam / Thai spicy sour soup

  1. Turn off the heat and add in the lime juice.
  2. Garnish with coriander leaves on serving.

Vegan Tom Yam / Thai spicy sour soup

Enjoy, keep warm and lurgy-free! :)

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1 comment

  1. Looks lovely! Enoki <3

    Renee — June 17, 2012

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