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Recipe: Vegan Tom Yum

This hot and sour soup is one of the most renowned of Thai dishes, and a favourite both in and outside of Thailand. Normally a Tom Yum soup would have shrimp and some fish sauce, but I don’t think you’re missing anything by skipping these out.

The soup, which is made from a broth of lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, galangal, lime juice and crushed red chili peppers is intoxicatingly fragrant, rich, and absolutely delicious.

This is not your traditional Tom Yum, so feel free to add whatever other veggies you have lying around your fridge— cauliflower, broccoli, some baby corn also works. There are many different versions out there, but as long as you have the right ingredients for the broth, you’ll have a tasty Tom Yum soup.

I added coconut milk (which technically makes the soup Tom Kha), to lend the soup a creaminess and a richness. Plus, I love the taste of coconut. I also threw in some tofu and mushrooms (you can use shiitake mushrooms or any other type of mushroom you like) for protein, bok choy because it was in season.

There are quite a few ingredients to source to prepare Tom Yum, but once you have them ready the process is pretty simple.

Perfect comfort food for a rainy day.


Makes two large servings or 4 smaller ones


  • 3 cups vegetable stock

  • 2 tbsp red curry paste

  • 1 tbsp coconut oil

  • 2 stalks lemongrass, crushed (to release the oils) and cut into 4 pieces each

  • 3 whole makrut lime leaves (again, Asian food stores or market)

  • 2 Thai red chilis, minced or chopped finely

  • 1 tbsp garlic, minced

  • 1 1/2 tbsp minced galangal

  • 1 cup mushrooms, whatever type you fancy (dry shiitake works well as do oyster mushrooms and brown mushrooms)

  • 2 cups baby bok choy, leaves separated. Chop if large

  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes

  • 1 can coconut milk

  • 1 teaspoon coconut sugar (or brown sugar)

  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce

  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

  • 400g firm tofu, cut into cubes

  • Fresh cilantro leaves to garnish (leave out if you’re a cilantro hater)


  • Add coconut oil to a pot along with the lemongrass pieces. Stir and cook for around 3 minutes. Then add the garlic, galangal, and red curry paste.

  • Pour the vegetable stock into the pot. Add the makrut lime leaves. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer.

  • Add the bok choy and simmer for about 2 minutes. The bok choy should still be a little crispy, not mushy.

  • Pour in the coconut milk, coconut sugar, soy sauce, tomatoes. Stir well.

  • Add mushrooms and tofu and simmer until mushrooms are soft, about 5 minutes.

  • Increase heat to a boil, then reduce to a simmer, cover pot and cook for another 10-15 minutes.

  • Add the lime juice. Taste the soup and see what needs to be adjusted—more chilli, sugar, soy.

  • Serve with a sprinkle of coriander if you wish

* As the lemongrass is too tough to eat, you can remove it, along with the lime leaves, after cooking the broth. Or just eat around them.


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