Recipe courtesy of Susan Vu

Spicy Chicken Soup (Tom Yum Gai)

The soup comes together in a snap, but provides all of the comfort of great chicken soup. Serve this as a starter, or pair with rice for a full and satisfying meal.
  • Level: Easy
  • Total: 1 hr 10 min
  • Prep: 30 min
  • Cook: 40 min
  • Yield: 6 to 8 servings
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6 cloves garlic, smashed

5 kaffir lime leaves

3 Thai bird chiles, halved and lightly smashed

2 lemongrass stalks, green tops removed, halved and smashed

One 2-inch piece galangal, sliced into 1/4-inch rounds

8 cups chicken stock

1/4 cup lime juice

2 tablespoons fish sauce

1 pound skinless boneless chicken thighs, cut into 1/2-inch chunks

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

2 cups white or brown beech mushrooms, bottoms trimmed (2 packages)

2 cups grape tomatoes, halved or quartered (1 pint)

1/2 cup cilantro leaves, roughly chopped


Special equipment:
lime wedges, sticky rice and bean sprouts
  1. Wrap the garlic, kaffir lime leaves, chiles, lemongrass and galangal in a piece of cheesecloth and tie with kitchen twine. Combine the chicken stock and the cheesecloth bundle in a small stockpot and bring to a boil over high heat. Lower the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes. Add the lime juice and fish sauce to the simmering stock and stir to combine. Sprinkle the chicken thighs with the kosher salt. 
  2. Add the chicken to the pot along with the mushrooms and tomatoes, and continue to simmer until the chicken is just cooked through, for 4 to 6 minutes. Taste the soup and check for seasoning; it should be slightly salty and sour. Adjust as needed with additional fish sauce or lime juice. 
  3. To serve, ladle the soup into individual bowls and top with chopped cilantro. Serve with any or all of the suggested accompaniments.

Cook’s Note

Galangal can be found at Asian markets; however, you may substitute an equal amount of fresh ginger if you cannot find it fresh.

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