Hot and sour shrimp soup

Hot and sour shrimp soup, also known as Tom Yum Goong, is a delectable Thai dish that marries bold flavors and aromatic herbs to create a culinary masterpiece. This soup is cherished worldwide for its perfect balance of hot, sour, salty, and sweet tastes. In this article, we will guide you through an authentic recipe that will transport your taste buds straight to Thailand.

Ingredients for Hot and Sour Shrimp Soup

To make this exquisite soup, you will need the following fresh ingredients:

Main Ingredients:

  • 500 grams of shrimp (peeled and deveined)
  • 4 cups of water or chicken broth
  • 2 stalks of lemongrass, cut into 1-inch pieces and smashed
  • 5 kaffir lime leaves, torn into pieces
  • 3 slices of galangal
  • 2-3 Thai chilies, smashed
  • 200 grams of mushrooms, sliced (preferably straw mushrooms or button mushrooms)
  • 2 medium-sized tomatoes, quartered
  • 1 medium-sized onion, sliced
  • 1 cup of coconut milk (optional for a richer flavor)


  • 3 tablespoons of fish sauce
  • 2 tablespoons of lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon of Thai roasted chili paste (Nam Prik Pao)
  • 1 teaspoon of sugar


  • Fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
  • Green onions, chopped

Step-by-Step Preparation

1. Preparing the Broth

Begin by bringing the water or chicken broth to a boil in a large pot. Once boiling, add the lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, and galangal. These herbs are essential in infusing the broth with the aromatic flavors characteristic of Tom Yum Goong. Let the broth simmer for about 10 minutes to ensure the flavors are well extracted.

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2. Adding the Heat

After the broth has absorbed the essence of the herbs, add the smashed Thai chilies. The quantity of chilies can be adjusted based on your desired level of spiciness. For a milder version, remove the seeds from the chilies before adding them to the broth.

3. Incorporating the Vegetables

Next, add the sliced mushrooms, tomatoes, and onions to the pot. Let them cook for approximately 5 minutes, or until the mushrooms have softened and the tomatoes have broken down, adding a tangy depth to the soup.

4. Introducing the Shrimp

Add the shrimp to the pot and cook until they turn pink and opaque, which should take about 3-4 minutes. Be careful not to overcook the shrimp as they can become tough and chewy.

5. Seasoning the Soup

Season the soup with fish sauce, lime juice, Thai roasted chili paste, and sugar. Taste and adjust the seasoning as necessary, balancing the flavors to achieve the perfect hot and sour profile. If you prefer a richer texture, stir in the coconut milk at this stage.

6. Final Touches

Once the soup is perfectly seasoned, remove it from the heat. Garnish with freshly chopped cilantro leaves and green onions before serving. These garnishes add a fresh, vibrant finish to the soup.

Tips for the Perfect Hot and Sour Shrimp Soup

Choosing the Right Shrimp

For the best flavor, use fresh shrimp. If fresh shrimp is unavailable, frozen shrimp can be used, but ensure they are thoroughly thawed before cooking. The size of the shrimp can vary based on preference, but medium to large shrimp are ideal for this soup.

Balancing the Flavors

The key to a delicious Tom Yum Goong lies in balancing the four main flavors: hot, sour, salty, and sweet. Taste the soup frequently as you add the seasonings to ensure none of the flavors overpower the others.

Customizing the Heat Level

The spiciness of the soup can be easily adjusted by varying the amount of Thai chilies used. For those who prefer a milder soup, reducing the number of chilies or removing the seeds can help control the heat without compromising the overall flavor.

Enhancing with Coconut Milk

While traditional Tom Yum Goong does not include coconut milk, adding it can create a creamier, richer soup. This variation, known as Tom Yum Nam Khon, is equally popular and adds a delightful twist to the traditional recipe.

Serving Suggestions

Hot and sour shrimp soup is best served hot, immediately after cooking, to enjoy the fresh, vibrant flavors. It can be served as an appetizer or a main course, accompanied by steamed jasmine rice or rice noodles. For an authentic Thai dining experience, pair the soup with other Thai dishes such as Pad Thai, green papaya salad, or Thai basil chicken.

Health Benefits

This soup is not only delicious but also offers several health benefits:

  • Shrimp is a great source of protein and provides essential vitamins and minerals such as vitamin B12, iodine, and selenium.
  • Lemongrass has anti-inflammatory properties and aids in digestion.
  • Galangal is known for its antioxidant properties and can help boost the immune system.
  • Kaffir lime leaves are rich in antioxidants and can improve oral health and digestion.


Creating the perfect hot and sour shrimp soup requires attention to detail and a balance of flavors. By following this recipe and incorporating fresh, high-quality ingredients, you can enjoy a bowl of authentic Tom Yum Goong that will tantalize your taste buds and transport you to the heart of Thailand. Whether you’re a seasoned chef or a home cook, this recipe is sure to impress and satisfy.

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