Sunday, June 2, 2013

Something to Soothe a Summer Cold: Tom Yum Soup

I think I may have made mention of my beautiful, charming and hip niece Kheili before.  What a sweet, darling girl.  She is just so very dear to me.  Without her I might never have discovered the important things in life like Groupon or Living Social.  There is just no telling where I'd be.   I would most certainly be paying too much for sushi and car washes at the very least.  She does her very best to keep me up to date on things, so I have learned to listen when she tells me about a new discovery or old favorite of hers.

I happened to mention to her the other day that Mr. H and I were suffering with stuffy noses and sore throats.  She relayed to me that one of her favorite cold remedies is a spicy, aromatic soup that is rumored to have medicinal powers called Tom Yum.  Being a believer in Jewish penicillin myself, I was skeptical that this Thai concoction could measure up, but in the interest of science I started searching around for recipes.

Tom Yum is a clear, spicy soup that is widely served in Laos and Thailand, but is also very popular in the neighboring countries of Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore.  "Tom" comes from the Thai word for boiling, and "Yum" is derived from the word "yam" which is a Laotian and Thai spicy and sour salad.  This soup is most often made with prawns, but there are many variations which use tofu, noodles, rice, pig knuckles, chicken, and coconut milk instead of, and in addition to, the prawns.

I have to say that Kheili was right again, as this is just what the doctor ordered.  This soup is hot, sour and aromatic, which is just what we both needed to soothe our symptoms.  Don't get me wrong, this isn't a meal just for when you are sick.  This is a delicious soup for any meal, any time of year, even when you are feeling great.  I know for a fact that my daughter is going to love this when she needs a warm up from the chill of the air conditioning this summer.  Thanks for the suggestion Kheili!  You've come through for me yet again.

Tom Yum(ish) Soup

I headed over to my well stocked Korean market for many of my ingredients, but there are easy substitutions for many of the harder to find ingredients in this recipe.

6 cups broth (I used chicken but feel free to use vegetable or fish if you prefer)
4 kaffir lime leaves (the zest of 1 lime will work nicely as a substitute for this)
1 lemongrass stalk, cut into 1" lengths
1 - 2" piece galangal root, sliced into 1/8" thick pieces (omit this if you can't find it and add just a little more ginger root)
1 - 2" piece ginger root, sliced into 1/8" thick pieces
1 - 2 birdseye peppers, sliced in quarters diagonally (thinly sliced Serrano peppers are a nice substitute)
1 garlic clove, smashed
1 handful mushrooms (straw, sliced button, enoki, etc.)
2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons fish sauce
1 tablespoon Tom Yum Paste or Thai chili paste (I didn't add this to mine and it was still delicious)
Juice of two limes (add juice a half at a time to suit your taste)
1/2 pound medium size shrimp
1/2 cup small diced firm tofu (optional)
1 small bunch cilantro leaves
2 green onions, chopped

Pour the broth in a large saucepan.  Add the kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass, galangal, ginger, peppers and garlic.  Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to simmer, cover and cook for 15 minutes.

Remove the cover and stir in the mushrooms, sugar, fish sauce, Tom Yum Sauce and lime juice.  Simmer for 5 minutes longer then add the shrimp and tofu.  Cook for approximately 2 - 3 minutes or until the shrimp starts to turn opaque.  Remove from the heat at this point to avoid overcooking the shrimp.  Add salt to taste.  Ladle into bowls and top with cilantro and green onion.  Serve piping hot.

Serves 3 - 4


Angela said...

This is one of my absolute favorite soups--hope you feel better!

Craig said...

I've never heard of this before Karen - it looks and sounds delicious. A bonus if it's something of a remedy too! I hope that you and yours feel better soon.

Holly @ said...

what is it with summer colds?? We think we've made it through the winter and expect sunshine and healthy days and then get hit with a cold...yuck. Hope you are feeling better now!

Barb | Creative Culinary said...

Well, forget the Tom part and just call this YUM and I'm good with that. I don't have a cold but I'm suffering; our cool wet spring has obviously spawned an abundance of a weed or flower that has me stuffed up as it I had one. This sounds delightful and I want a bowl now!

Ansh| Spiceroots said...

I would drink this without the summer colds too. Looks so refreshing!

Karen (Back Road Journal) said...

Tom Yum is one of my favorite soups. I hope it works its magic on the two of you soon...feel better.

Angie Schneider said...

I could have enjoyed this soup any time of year!

Kitchen Riffs said...

Hope you're feeling better! But how could you not with this soup? Super flavors - truly good stuff. Thanks for this.

Donalyn @ The Creekside Cook said...

I have a little tickle in the back of throat today and I think this is just what I need to cure it! It's probably just allergies, but this soup would probably take care of that too - thanks!

Lea Ann (Cooking On The Ranch) said...

Wait a minute.... I don't know about living social?!?! And yup, the soup would do the trick. Summer sniffles are just so annoying.

Amy said...

What a wonderful and soothing soup. I hope you both have a speeding recovery and feel better soon. Take care.