Cooking tom yummy soup from scratch

This post wouldn’t have been so overdue had WordPress not crashed and lost my post at 11pm last night. Here goes!

According to a meat-lover who isn’t too crazy about vegetables, this soup is really good. Ash and I loved it too, so I thought it would be worth sharing. Loaded with fresh vegetables, the broth is tasty with only just a touch of coconut milk, which gives it that moreish small-children-would-ask-for-seconds flavour.

Plus, it’s made without tom yum paste.

Perhaps it’s the introduction of the carbon tax that has got me thinking about environment, or perhaps it’s my growing distaste for our consumerist culture. Anyway, the other night I realised I was about to run out of the cotton wool balls that I use for makeup removal. I was pondering this, and imagined I lived in a time and place where most of what I used I had helped to produce. I wouldn’t mindlessly go through cotton wool balls. I’d look for a reusable option. Then I remembered a face washer that someone gave me that I’ve never used because I don’t like the embroidery on it. So instead of buying more cotton wool, I’m going to trial using the cloth to remove my makeup, and wash it.

A few dollars saved, a little less cotton being produced, a little less landfill; it’s all good.

Applying that idea in the kitchen now, this soup doesn’t require you to use factory produced tom yum paste. I don’t think it’s necessary in most cases to use a pre-made paste, so long as you have a well-stocked spice shelf. The ingredient list might be longer, but it’s not difficult to add a measure of various spices and other items; it certainly doesn’t require culinary genius.

Not only is it cheaper to mix the flavours from scratch, it usually tastes better. And you know exactly what’s in it – no funny looking numbered ingredients, no ground up crustaceans. So give it a shot!

(Note: Don’t get me wrong, a good curry paste can be delicious, even better if you make it yourself. Check out Jamie Oliver’s curry paste recipes.)

Tom yummy soup (serves 6)


  • 6 cups chicken-style stock
  • 1 stem of lemongrass, chopped finely
  • 3 kaffir lime leaves
  • 2 long chillis, chopped finely
  • 4 cloves garlic, smashed and chopped
  • 2 tsp minced ginger
  • 150g-200g mushrooms, chopped
  • 3 heads baby bok choy (a.k.a. pak choy), chopped
  • 1 red capsicum, chopped
  • 1 head broccoli, chopped
  • 200ml coconut milk
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 3-4 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1-2 tbsp lime juice
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil, torn
  • 1/2 cup fresh coriander, torn


  1. Bring the stock to the boil in a large pot, adding the lemongrass, lime leaves, chilli, garlic and ginger. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes.
  2. Add the mushrooms and simmer for another 5 minutes.
  3. Add the rest of the vegetables, and cover until the broccoli is bright green.
  4. Stir through the coconut milk, sugar, soy sauce, lime juice and taste – adjust with more soy or lime if you think it needs it.
  5. Remove the lime leaves, and serve with fresh herbs.

2 thoughts on “Cooking tom yummy soup from scratch

  1. This sounds really nice, I’ve never had tom yum soup and may have to try this recipe sometime. I get annoyed sometimes when I go to look at a new recipe and find that it calls for some kind of paste from a jar, because I just don’t keep stuff like that around, it’s way nicer to just create flavour using real ingredients – plus no weird numbers or animals in it 🙂

    • I totally agree! Tom yum was always one of my favourite things to order when eating out at Thai shops but now as a vegan it’s difficult to make sure there aren’t any fish ingredients. But this one is just as good!

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