Winter is upon us, last week the garden was carpeted in bright autumnal colours and the tress were covered in shades of red and gold. Just a few days later all the leaves are gone and the trees are bare. To refresh the spirit hot and spicy was what I was craving and tom yam soup hit the spot. Hot and sour with lots of bright, fresh vegetables is how I like my tom yam soup.
This is my version so I don’t pretend that it is wholly authentic, or actually anywhere even close to authentic. Typically tom yam or tom yum soup is a spicy clear broth commonly found in Laos and Thailand, but versions can also be found in neighbouring Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia. Tom refers to soup and yum is a spicy and sour salad so tom yam soup is a hot and sour soup, and that is what this soup delivers in spades. That wonderful spicy, hot, sour combination that is innately Thai. The broth is traditionally spiked with lemon grass, kaffir lime, galangal, lime, chilli and, my personal favourite, fish sauce. As always you can adjust the quantities to suit your own taste.
Tom Yam Soup
4 cups vegetable, chicken of fish stock
4 kaffir lime leaves, roughly torn
1 stalk lemongrass stalks, thinly sliced
1 thumbnail of ginger, julienned
1 thai chilli or long red chilli, finely sliced
16 raw prawns
1 tbsp caster sugar
Juice of 1 lime
2 tbsp fish sauce
1/2 red pepper julienned
1/2 yellow pepper julienned
1/2 carrot julienned
1 pac choy, thinly sliced
A few coriander leaves and sliced red chilli to serve
Warm the stock and add the shrimp paste, kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass, ginger and chilli. Bring to a gentle simmer for a few minutes to allow the flavours to infuse.
Add the prawns and cook them for 2 -3 minutes until pink and cooked through. Add the sugar, lime juice and fish sauce. Taste and adjust the seasoning to to suit your own taste.
Place the peppers, carrots and pac choy in the bottom of a soup bowl and then pour over the broth and the prawns. The warmth of the broth will be enough to warm through the vegetables and leave them fresh and crunchy.
Scatter over a few coriander leaves and some freshly sliced chilli and then tuck in. This is a soup to warm the cockles of your heart and to banish any winter blues. It should fend do off any colds and bugs too. The spiciness livens everything up and leaves you revived and refreshed.