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Easy Thai Cooking Part 3: Tom Yum Soup with Rice Vermicelli

Comfortably seated on the number 8 spot in the World’s 50 most delicious food of 2011 list, compiled by CNN Go, this square meal in a round bowl is a hand’s down winner; both in the kitchen and in your stomach. One of the most popular dishes in Thai cuisine, Tom Yum soup has all the flavors and nutrients to satiate any hungry palate. With the addition of the rice vermicelli, one bowl of soup will have all the nutrients of a balanced meal; protein, carbohydrates and fiber. The spicy and pungent aromas of the Tom Yum soup have made it famous across the borders and seas of Thailand into countries far and wide. No Thai dinner can be complete without this spicy Tom Yum soup.

Tom Yum Soup with Rice Vermicelli

Many believe that Tom Yum not for the faint-hearted due to its spice content. But little do they know that there is much more to this soup than chillies and spices. It is the fragrant and aromatic herbs, such as kaffir leaves, galangal and lemongrass. that are the actual essence of this dish. Without them, it is simply just spicy chicken stock. With the world now becoming a global village and demand for specialty ingredients on the rise, supermarkets are filled with ingredients from all corners of the world to help the avid food lovers and chefs alike. With the emergence of Thai food as a front runner in easy weeknight dinners, all Thai ingredients are now available with ease. Tom Yum soup, normally, is spicy aromatic chicken broth with chicken pieces, mushrooms and cilantro. But to make the soup a hearty and complete meal, I decided to add more vegetables and rice vermicelli as well. The reason behind using rice vermicelli as opposed to any other type of noodles is, because this thin variety does not take away from the aromatic broth. Had the noodles been any thicker, they would completely overpower the flavors of the soup. It can somewhat be considered a delicate, yet fiery soup, hence the ingredients should be proportionate as well.

Tom Yum Soup with Rice Vermicelli


  • 1 liter chicken stock
  • 1/4 kg chicken fillets
  • 3 tbsp tom yum paste
  • 1/2 cup shitake mushrooms
  • 1 carrot
  • 1/4 pkt rice vermicelli
  • 2 spring onions
  • 3-4 green chillies
  • 1 lime, cut into quarters
  • 2 tbsp lime juice


  • First prepare all the vegetables. Peel the carrot into paper thin sheets, cut the green chillies, slice the white part of the spring onion horizontally whereas cut the stalk (the green portions) of the spring onions vertically. Finally slice the mushrooms, thinly
  • Prepare the vegetables

  • Slice the chicken fillets and place them in a pan of boiling water. Add a pinch of salt and let the chicken boil for about 10-15 minutes till soft
  • Empty the contents of the saucepan into a sieve and let the water drain out
  • While the chicken is still hot, use a fork to separate the chicken pieces till they reduce in thickness.
  • Separate the chicken

  • In another saucepan, add the chicken stock, tom yum paste, lime juice, quartered limes, 3/4 of the mushrooms, 1/2 the carrots, the white part of the spring onions and green chillies. Bring the soup to a boil and then simmer for 5-10 minutes. Add a dash of fish sauce
  • Simmer the broth

  • Just before taking it off the fire, add the uncooked rice vermicelli, so that it cooks in the broth. This gives the noodles flavor as well
  • Cook the vermicelli in the broth

  • Once the soup is cooked, remove the lemon wedges and switch off the heat
  • Take a portion of the noodles out from the soup into a deep serving bowl. Add a few mushrooms and carrots
  • Add the dry ingredients into the soup bowl

  • Ladle the soup into the bowl and top with boiled chicken. Garnish with the stalks of the spring onions and handful of coriander. Repeat with the next bowl
  • Serve immediately, while hot


Tom Yum Soup with Rice Vermicelli

Tired after a long day’s work, this soup is sure to take all the pains away. Easy to make and ready in under 20 minutes, it is the perfect weeknight supper. Add any other ingredients as you may please, such as beansprouts, shallots, prawns or beef. Another variation to this soup can also be made if you add 1/2 cup of coconut milk, however its better not to add the noodles in that case as it makes the soup very heavy. Similarly, you can choose to reduce or increase the amount of Tom Yum paste, depending on how spicy you want your soup to be. The paste itself is made from all the aromatic herbs such as kaffir lime leaves, galangal, lemongrass and chilli peppers, so there is no need to add any more of them. This recipe makes at least 4 servings, so finish it all in one go, or refrigerate for a rainy day; in either case it will taste as good.




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