Madeleine's Elegant Tom Yum Soup

Tom Yum Soup was the first dish Liam and I ate when we visited Thailand last year, and though everything we ate was truly delicious, it remained my favorite meal throughout the trip. When I got home, I knew I had to put my own spin on this rustic soup, so I did! I made it creamy, spicy, comforting, and (of course) elegant. Most importantly, I swapped some of the traditional ingredients for ones that are more readily found in American grocery stores. However, I kept all the wonderfully exotic flavor!

To make this a more hearty meal, try putting in 6 tbsp. of soy sauce total and adding some chicken! Simply season the raw chicken thighs before searing on both sides, then allow them to simmer in the soup until tender. Adjust seasoning to taste. You can also sauté some shrimp or pork and toss it into the pot right before you serve.

Don’t be afraid of something new! Enjoy. :)

Madeleine’s Elegant Tom Yum Soup

2 tbsp. olive oil

4 tbsp. good quality Euro butter (salted)

8-10 small chunks of ginger (a solid handful)

12 crushed large garlic cloves

4 shallots, trimmed, peeled, and roughly chopped

22 small shiitakes, stems removed (ab. 1/3 lb.)

4 limes, zest AND wedges to squeeze over the soup

2 stalks lemongrass, trimmed on both ends and roughly chopped

4-6 tbsp. soy sauce***

1 tbsp. fish sauce 

5 fresh bird’s eye chiles, optional (leave whole, but chop them if you want serious spiciness!)

4 tbsp. vinegar (TT) (I like 2 tbsp. mirin and 2 tbsp. white wine vinegar)

Heaping tbsp. red curry paste

3 tbsp. tomato paste

1 lb. white shrimp, raw, shells on

1 tbsp. palm or light brown sugar 

13.5 oz. can full fat coconut milk

2 cups half and half

1 quart chicken stock

Handful of fresh Thai basil sprigs, plus extra for garnish

Cilantro, fresh, for garnish


  1. Sauté one tablespoon of the soy sauce with the butter, oil, ginger, garlic, lemongrass, shallots, shiitakes, and the zest of 1 lime until softened.

  2. Add in the fish sauce, another 1 tbsp. soy sauce, the zest of 1 lime (keeping the naked lime covered off to the side), bird’s eye chiles (if using), and 2 tbsp. vinegar. Cook together for a couple of minutes, then stir in the rest of the vinegar, 2-4 more tablespoons of soy sauce***, the red curry paste, and the tomato paste. Combine well, then add in the shrimp and sugar. Sauté for a couple of minutes, until fragrant, but don’t let anything get close to burning.

  3. Stir in the zest of the 3rd lime, the coconut milk, the half and half, and the chicken stock. Top off with the handful of fresh Thai basil sprigs, then bring to a boil before lowering to a simmer. Allow to bubble away for about 1.5 hours, stirring occasionally, until thickened, fragrant, and a beautiful, creamy shade of orange.

  4. Put heat on low, stir in the zest of the 4th lime, thin to your liking with more liquid (half and half, broth, or water), season to taste, and serve with fresh lime wedges, cilantro, and Thai basil!


*** If you want the soup properly seasoned, add in 4 tbsp. of soy sauce, then see how you feel when you’re ready to serve. Add a little more as you see fit. If you enjoy salt and think most everything you eat could use a little bit extra, put in 5 tbsp, If you’re a salt junkie, you can put in up to 6. Should there be leftovers (which is ideal because this soup is AMAZING reheated after a night in the fridge!), keep in mind that chilling and reheating can affect the seasoning. When you reheat, add more soy sauce and/or vinegar to taste - it may need some livening up!

Madeleine Dee’s Easy, Elegant Tom Yum Soup

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