I make no claims to the authenticity of this soup, but it sure is delicious. I am borrowing heavily from Thai Tom Yum Soup, and the other Asian flavours that I enjoy, but you likely won’t find this soup anywhere other than in my kitchen… and now (hopefully), your kitchen!
We’ve had this soup as a “repeat meal” several times over the last couple weeks as I’ve been tweaking to get it just right. And I think I’ve done it! Although I must admit that the taste testing along the way has been delicious in whatever form this soup has taken.
We are lucky enough to have a chain of Asian grocery stores in Toronto with a great selection, and English labels so I know what everything is. There I can find all the things that are sometimes tricky to find: a rhizome called galangal (looks a bit like ginger), Thai lime leaves & chilis, lemongrass, all sorts of fun mushrooms, and one of my favourite soup noodles: skinny brown rice vermicelli.
If you can’t find any of the ingredients listed here you can leave them out and you’ll still have a great soup, but the sweet-savoury exotic Thai flavours do come from the galangal, lime leaves, chilis, and lemongrass. You can also feel free to substitute any kind of mushroom that you have on hand. I love the earthy, umami flavour of shitake mushrooms and the noodly texture of enokis, but any mushroom would be delicious here, even the humble button mushroom.
Tom Yum Soup with Brown Rice Vermicelli
- 4 c. vegetable stock
- 2 (1cm thick) slices galangal root
- 4 fresh Thai lime leaves
- 1-2 stalks lemongrass
- 4 small Thai red chilis (bird’s eye chilis), sliced — this makes a hot soup, feel free to adjust to your taste
- 1 Tbsp. tamari or soy sauce (my veggie-friendly replacement for fish sauce)
- 2 tsp. olive oil
- 1 c. shitake mushrooms, sliced
- 1 c. enoki mushrooms, chopped off at the root
- 2 tomatoes, diced
- 100 g brown rice vermicelli (you can substitute regular rice vermicelli noodles here)
- 1 block Quick-Marinated Tofu (see below)
- 1/4 c. cilantro leaves, chopped, for garnish
- 1 lime, sliced, for serving
Pound the bulb end of the lemongrass to flatten it (I use the pestle from my mortar and pestle). This helps to get the flavours out into the soup.
In a large pot, bring stock, galangal, lime leaves, lemongrass, and chilis to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes (or more – no problem!), while preparing the other ingredients, including the Quick-Marinated Tofu, below.
In a large pan, heat olive oil and saute shitake mushrooms until softened and cooked through, about 5 minutes.
Add the tamari, sauteed shitake mushrooms and the fresh enoki mushrooms and tomato to the pot.
2 minutes before serving, add the brown rice vermicelli to the soup pot. Cook for 2 minutes, until the noodles are softened, then top with Quick-Marinated Tofu (below) and garnish with cilantro and serve with a wedge of lime. This soup is quite spicy already, but you may want to serve chili garlic sauce on the side for people who like it really hot!
- 2 tsp. chili garlic sauce
- 2 Tbsp. rice vinegar
- 1 Tbsp. tamari
- 2 tsp. sesame oil
- 1 package firm tofu, cubes
- 2 tsp. olive oil
Combine chili garlic sauce, rice vinegar, tamari, and sesame oil. Toss with tofu cubes in a large bowl. Let the tofu sit in the marinade for as much time as you have before cooking — you can marinate overnight, but as this is “quick-marinated” tofu, you can use it even 5 minutes later.
Heat olive oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Add tofu, along with the marinade. Saute for 5 minutes, turning the tofu when it starts to brown on each side (tongs are great for this). You want dark brown, caramelized, crispy bits on the outsides of the tofu.
This tofu is great in stirfries, on salads, or in the Tom Yum Soup above.