Tom Yum or Spicy Lemongrass Soup



All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2012

This is one easy soup!  Spicy, healthy & delicious!  Fresh lemongrass is key here, though, so make sure some is available to you.  My Asian market – Bangluck in Hollywood – is CHEAP & full of so many amazing ingredients – it is genuinely inspiring.  The Thai restaurant next door (a very good one – FYI) always pumps the most delicious smells out, too – increasing the inspirational impact of Bangluck.  I recommend stopping by the Sanam Luang Cafe after a long night of drinking & watching bikini dancers at Jumbo’s Clown Room – across the street.  Jumbo’s is FANTASTIC – btw.  No cover.  No drink minimum.  No girls hustling drinks or lap dances.  And no nudity.  So civilized – my mother requested a stop there one Christmas Eve.  True story.

Anyway – this soup.  Let’s get to it.  Know that it is very spicy.  GREAT for cold & flu season & might even qualify as a hangover cure, too!  This can be made with or without the addition of coconut milk.  I chose not to use it in favor of a lighter, healthier soup but the coconut version is delicious, too!

One great resource is the canned curry paste available at Bankluck – for about $1.19.  Cheap & versatile!  This recipe calls for the red variety.




Tom Yum or Spicy Lemongrass Soup


2 stalks of lemongrass

5+ slices of fresh ginger – sliced like large inedible disks

5 TBS fish sauce

2 limes

2 serrano chiles

1 tsp chili paste with garlic (more if you are a glutton for spice – less if you are not)

1 cup mushrooms – sliced

1 TBS red curry paste

1 small tomato – diced (I used leftover canned stuff from my Chick Pea Curry dish – and didn’t like it.  Use a fresh tomato.)

4 cups vegetable stock

4+ of any of the following OPTIONS: baby corn, straw mushrooms, bamboo shoots, water chestnuts, shrimp, tofu, 1 cup of lite coconut milk.

Thai basil, mint and/or cilantro for garnish


Cut the end off the lemongrass stalks and peel away the dried layers.  Using a coffee mug or a rolling pin or other sturdy thing – gently hammer the lemongrass.  This is called bruising & it makes the lemongrass release its fragrance & flavor.  Cut the lemongrass into one inch sections.

Cute the serranos in into quarters & seed them.  With the flat side of a knife – press the chiles a little – bruising them a bit, too, so they release their flavor more completely.

Heat the stock & when boiling – add the lemongrass, serranos, ginger, fish sauce, chili paste, red curry paste & the juice of one lime.  Reduce the heat so that the soup stays very hot – but isn’t at a rolling boil.  Add the chopped tomato and mushrooms and all of the other ingredients you elected to use.  Simmer for about 15 minutes so that all the flavors can meld and the shrimp – if you are using it – is cooked through.

Ladle the soup into individual bowls & garnish with whatever herbs you selected (basil, mint and/or cilantro) and serve each bowl with a wedge of lime.

NOTE: The lemongrass, serranos & ginger slices should not be eaten.  Either remove them before serving or avoid them in your bowl.


All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2012

2 thoughts on “Tom Yum or Spicy Lemongrass Soup

  1. This dish is a bit ambitious for me (ingredient-wise), but I may give it a try.

    BTW, I added sriracha to today’s Bloody along with olives and a garnish pickle. Awesome!!

    Thank you for the great ideas. Keep them coming, please!


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