by Julie Snyder
Tom Yum is a Thai spicy and sour soup. In spite of a long ingredient list, it's quick and simple. You'll spend more time rounding the stuff up than cooking it.
The specialty items include galangal -- an earthy and citrusy root, lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, and fish sauce. You can find these at an Asian grocery or in the international section of your supermarket.
It may sound like a weird combination of flavors, but the seasonings blend nicely. When Thai named this soup, they were right when to used the word "yum" in it!
Well known for its warmth as well as its incredible health benefits, this soup is reputed to ease cold or flu symptoms and leave you feeling both pampered and energized.
Tom yum goong (Thai hot and sour soup)
Prep time: 20 minutes | Total time: 30 minutes | Yield: 4 servings
• 6 cups water or chicken stock
• 1 pound shrimp
• 1 fresh lemongrass stalk
• 1 thumb-size piece galangal or ginger
• 3 to 4 cloves garlic, minced
• 1 to 2 fresh red or green chilies, finely sliced, OR substitute • 1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon dried crushed chili pepper
• 4 kaffir limes leaves, fresh, frozen, or dried)
• 6-8 shiitake mushrooms, sliced
• 2 tomatoes, chopped into wedges or chunks
• 1 red bell pepper, sliced (optional)
• 1/2 to 1 can coconut milk
• 2 tablespoons lime juice
• 2 tablespoons fish sauce
• 1 tablespoons soy sauce
• 1/2 to 1 teaspoon brown sugar, to taste
• 3 green onions, sliced
• handful fresh coriander and/or basil
Place the water or chicken broth in a large soup pot over medium-high heat. Bring it to a boil.
Peel and de-vein the shrimp. Set aside.
Slice and mince the lower half of the lemongrass stalk. Slice upper half into 3 to 4-inch segments. Add the lemongrass to the soup pot and boil for 5 minutes.
Add the galangal or ginger, garlic, kaffir lime leaves and chili. Bring soup back up to boiling then reduce to medium heat. Simmer for 10 minutes.
Add the mushrooms, tomatoes and bell pepper (optional). Simmer 3 minutes. Bring the soup to a boil. Add the shrimp and turn off the heat. Allow to sit for 2 minutes.
Add 1/2 can coconut milk, fish sauce, soy sauce, lime juice and 1/2 teaspoon sugar. Stir well. Taste-test the soup and adjust the balance between the spicy, sour, salty and sweet flavors. Add more fish sauce if it's not salty enough; more sugar if too sour; more lime juice if too sweet; more coconut milk if too spicy and more chili if not spicy enough.
Ladle the soup into serving bowls. Sprinkle with a little fresh coriander and green onions.
If your guests aren't familiar with Thai soups, show them which items are used only to flavor the soup and shouldn't be eaten or remove the lemon grass, lime leaves and galangal before serving.
Tip: You can add nearly any type of vegetable or throw in some noodles for a Thai-style chicken noodle soup.
Among the medicinal herbs and healing spices that make their way into Suporns dishes are turmeric, lemon juice, ginger, galangal, coriander, pepper, Thai basil, fresh chilies, mint and lemon grass. All these deliver important healing properties to the body.
The best known of these dishes, Tom Yum may be Thailand's favorite soup. Traditional Thai cuisine -- famed for its heavy use of herbs and spices -- has long been known to have health benefits. A 2001 study found that its ingredients are 100 times more effective at inhibiting cancerous tumor growth than other foods.
Photo courtesy of iStockphoto.