Thursday, August 23, 2012

Bowl of Flavours

My husband insisted that I share the Tom Yum Gai soup recipe that I use.  I first made it for a Thai night and will be making it to share with friends this weekend.  I think it really delivers on tasting sweet, salty, spicy, and sour.  It was a great experience for me as it was my first time cooking with kaffir lime leaves and lemongrass.

If you haven't cooked with some of these ingredients I have provided pictures to help you identify them in your local grocery store or market as well as an informative video on cooking with lemon grass.  I followed the lemongrass for soup demonstration from the video and removed the lemongrass and kafir lime leaves before serving.

Kaffir Lime Leaves
Shiitake Mushrooms

Prep Time: 18 minutes 

Cook Time: 12 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

Yield: MAKES 3-4 Servings


  • 6 cups good-quality (strong) chicken stock
  • 1-2 boneless chicken breasts or 3-4 thighs, sliced, OR 1-2 cups roasted chicken or turkey
  • 1 fresh lemongrass stalk, OR 2 Tbsp. frozen/bottled prepared lemongrass
  • 4 kaffir limes leaves (fresh, frozen, or dried) OR substitute 1 tsp. lime zest
  • 6-8 shiitake mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 stalk celery, sliced
  • 1 thumb-size piece galangal or ginger, grated
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1-2 fresh red or green chilies, finely sliced, OR substitute 1/2 to 3/4 tsp. dried crushed chili (chili flakes)
  • 1 tomato, chopped into wedges or chunks
  • optional: 1 red bell pepper, sliced
  • 1/2 to 1 can good-quality (thick) coconut milk
  • 2 Tbsp. lime juice
  • 2 Tbsp. fish sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. soy sauce
  • 1/2 to 1 tsp. sugar, to taste
  • 3 spring (green) onions, sliced
  • handful fresh coriander and/or basil


  1. Place chicken stock in a large soup pot over medium-high heat. If you have leftover chicken or turkey bones, add those too.
  2. Add the lemongrass and bring to a boil. If using fresh lemongrass, slice and mince only the lower half of the stalk, then slice upper half into 3-4 inch segments and add to the soup pot.
  3. Add fresh chicken (or leftover chicken or turkey), kaffir lime leaves/lime zest, galangal or ginger, garlic, chili, plus mushrooms and celery. Bring soup back up to boiling then reduce to medium heat, simmering 6-8 minutes, or until chicken is cooked.
  4. Add tomatoes and bell pepper (if using) and simmer 2 more minutes.
  5. Reduce heat to low and add coconut milk, fish sauce, soy sauce, lime juice and sugar. Simmer gently 1-2 minutes while you taste-test the soup. Tip: Look for a balance between spicy, sour, salty, and sweet flavors. Start with salty, adding more fish sauce if not salty or flavorful enough. If too salty or sweet, add more lime juice. If too sour, add more sugar. If too spicy, or if you'd like it creamier, add more coconut milk. If not spicy enough, add more chili.
  6. Ladle soup into serving bowls. Sprinkle over a little fresh coriander or basil, plus spring onions. 
I hope you enjoy it!

Steph Langdon, RD
something nutrishus counselling & coaching