Vegetarian Tom Yum Soup

August 5, 2019mayurisjikoni
Blog post



What are herbs?

Herbs are plants with seeds, flowers and leaves  where the leaves and green parts are used for flavoring, as part of food, as medicine and also used in some perfumes to enhance the aroma. In cooking, usually the leafy greens of herbs are used not as a main dish but as a part of a dish. So you may say that we use spinach, fresh fenugreek, fresh mustard leaves too and they too are leafy greens so why are they considered  vegetables and not herbs? Well, for one these leafy greens are usually prepared on its own or with other vegetables as a curry or used in salads in big quantities. Usually herbs are used in small quantities. So you may also wonder what is the difference between herbs and spices. Herbs are where you use the leafy green and other green parts like stalks. Spices are where other parts of the plant are used like cinnamon is the bark of a tree, cardamom is a seed pod, peppers are berries etc.

All herbs are aromatic, fragrant and impart a specific taste. Usually they are added at the end of the dish to enhance the flavour and gives any dish a refreshing look. Some are added when cooking like oregano, basil, rosemary are added when the pasta sauce is simmering. Every part of the world has its own indigenous herb that they use. Take for example curry leaves, which goes by the botanical name murraya koenigii, are used in so many dishes all over India. Its adds a distinct flavour to the dish and also has a very distinct aroma. My personal belief is that no kadhi is complete without curry leaves (limdi, kari patta). Or take Swaty’s Sabudana Khichdi, it would not taste the same without the distinct flavour of curry leaves.

Nowadays with everyone sampling and enjoying cuisines from different parts of the world, availability of some fresh herbs is pretty easy. Its common to find fresh oregano on the shelves in Mombasa, fresh basil in the markets of Mumbai, lemongrass in US, curry leaves in UK etc. Whenever fresh herbs are not available, dried ones either as whole or powdered are used and they too impart a strong flavour. However, if the dried herbs are left on the shelf for too long, they loose their flavour and aroma. 

How to make your own dried herbs at home?

Its so simple, usually the leaves and or stalks are washed, dried on a kitchen towel and left out to dry in a cool area. Once dry they are packed into a jar. Another way is to spread the leaves out on a plate. Put it in the microwave oven and let it dry out at a low setting and for 30 to 40 seconds. When cool, store in a jar. The timing will depend on the type of herb. 

 Swaty’s blog Food Trails has many recipes where different herbs are used. She suggested the theme herbalicious and her request was not to use the common ones like coriander and curry leaves. I knew immediately which herbs I wanted to use. For my recipe that follows, I used fresh lemongrass, basil and dried kaffir lime leaf powder.

A vegetarian version of the famous Thai Tom Yum soup (hot and sour soup) was on my list since my visit to the beautiful country. I was not able to sample the soup as fish sauce was added to it. Usually there are two versions of this soup, one where  the soup is in a broth and the other where coconut milk or evaporated milk is added to it. With added milk it is called Tom Khaa.

The main flavors for Tom Yum comes from lemongrass, galangal and kaffir lime leaves and of course not forgetting the hot fiery red bird eye chili. Its one of the easiest soups, a one pot meal kind of soup which can be served as a light meal option. As the broth boils keep on adding all the veggies, fish, meat, etc to your heart’s content.

So lets get to the recipe for a veggie version of Tom Yum Soup.

tom yum soup 1

tom yum soup 2


Serves 6

6-7 cups of water or vegetable stock

2-3 stalks of lemongrass, smash the bottom white part a bit and chop

½ tsp dried kaffir lime leaf powder

1″ galangal, finely chopped or grated

6-8 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped

1-2 fresh red chilis, finely chopped

1 large onion chopped

3 tomatoes, finely chopped

3 bunches pak choy (bok choy), leave whole or cut into chunks

1 large zucchini, cut into thick slices

200g crab mushrooms or any other mushrooms

250g tofu

2 tbsp light soy sauce

1 tsp brown sugar or coconut sugar

1 lime

1- 1½ tsp salt

½ tsp cumin powder

½ tsp coriander powder

8-10 basil leaves ( I had to use Italian basil as I didn’t get Thai basil)

To serve:

handful of cherry tomatoes or 1 chopped tomato

  1. Add the water or stock to a large pan. Put the pan on medium heat.
  2. Add chopped lemongrass, galangal, garlic, red chilis, kaffir lime leaf powder and chopped tomatoes.
  3. Let the mixture simmer for 10 minutes over low heat. This allows the flavors of the herbs to infuse and also softens the tomatoes.
  4. Mash the tomatoes with the back of the cooking spoon.
  5. Add salt, pepper, cumin, coriander powders, basil, onion, sugar and  soy sauce. Let the mixture simmer for 3 -4 minutes.
  6. Add the pok chop, mushrooms and zucchini. Let it simmer for 3 -4 minutes.
  7. Add sliced or cubed tofu, lime juice and cherry tomatoes and serve immediately.


  • Add vegetables of your choice like broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, bell pepper, etc.
  • Use jalapeño or normal fresh chilis if you don’t like the soup too hot. Or omit it and serve with chopped chilis on the side.
  • If you have fresh kaffir lime leaves then remove the middle stalk using a sharp knife and add about 10 leaves.
  • If you don’t have either dried or fresh kaffir lime leaves, then add lime zest to the simmering water. Add also a bit of your favorite vinegar.
  • Add fresh coriander instead of basil.
  • You can use ready made Thai red curry paste if you wish.
  • Next time I make the soup, I’ll let the broth after completing step one, rest for a couple of hours to allow the flavors to infuse.

Pin for Later:

veg tom yum soup

A little request:

If you do try this recipe then please either

  • add a comment below,
  • send a picture to my email
  •  tag me as #mayuri_jikoni on Instagram
  • or tag me on Twitter as #Mayuri1962

You may want to check out some other recipes where I’ve used fresh herbs:

rose, saffron and pandan panna cotta

orange basil juice

pasta with coriander, mint and cashew nut pesto

lasagna with chickpeas

Sharing this recipe with the following group:



  • Batter Up With Sujata

    August 5, 2019 at 12:28 pm

    Loved your detailed write up about herbs. Soups looks so comforting, healthy, delicious and full of lemony flavour. I can imagine the lovely aroma.

    1. mayurisjikoni

      August 9, 2019 at 6:20 am

      Thank you so much Sujata.

  • poonampagar

    August 6, 2019 at 2:39 pm

    Loved this aromatic and flavorful vegetarian version of Tom yum soup ! This one pot soup is no less than a nutritious meal. Perfect for the present weather here.

    1. mayurisjikoni

      August 9, 2019 at 6:18 am

      Thanks Poonam, it definitely is nutritious.

  • The Girl Next Door

    August 7, 2019 at 6:50 am

    Tom Yum soup is a favourite at our place. So soothing, specially on the kind of cold and rainy days as the ones we are having in Bangalore lately.

    The soup looks delish! I make it slightly differently.

    1. mayurisjikoni

      August 9, 2019 at 6:18 am

      Thanks Priya, would like to know how you make it.

  • FoodTrails

    August 7, 2019 at 7:18 am

    Such a nice write p explaining the difference between herbs and leafy veggies and spice!! Such a comforting and a truly herbalicious dish bursting with flavours !!

    1. mayurisjikoni

      August 9, 2019 at 6:17 am

      Thank you so much Swaty.


    August 7, 2019 at 11:00 am

    Mayuri! It is raining here and we are craving Soup. every ingredient I am reading out to my daughter she is saying Ma! make it! There are few soups she does not like but I think Tom Yum soup is her particular favourite. Bookmarking for the ingredients next time I am at the mall.Will come back to re read this recipe yet again ,

    1. mayurisjikoni

      August 9, 2019 at 6:16 am

      Thank you so much Archana. When kids love any dish its such a huge compliment.

  • Tiffany Harrison

    August 7, 2019 at 2:21 pm

    I love a healthy meal. I can’t wait to try this. Thanks for sharing ♥️ ♥️ By any chance, are you interested in doing collabs? xx

    1. mayurisjikoni

      August 9, 2019 at 6:14 am

      Thanks Tiffany. What sort of collabs?

      1. Tiffany Harrison

        August 9, 2019 at 9:51 am

        You can check out the offers in our Collaboration section at Phlanx! You can also check us out at Instagram @phlanxglobal

  • Renu Agrawal Dongre

    August 7, 2019 at 2:35 pm

    I would love to try this soup. First I have never made any Thai soup and secondly I want to try kafir leaves. I see that in the supermarket’s but never bought one. I am bookmarking your recipe of this comforting soup

    1. mayurisjikoni

      August 9, 2019 at 6:14 am

      Renu try them out, they add such a aromatic and slightly tangy taste. But when you use them, take a sharp knife and remove the middle stem if you’re going to use them in a paste.

  • namscorner18

    August 7, 2019 at 2:35 pm

    So healthy and flavorful soup. Love the addition of tofu. Would love to have hot bowl of soup during rains.

    1. mayurisjikoni

      August 9, 2019 at 6:11 am

      Thanks Narmadha.

  • Mireille Roc (@ChefMireille)

    August 8, 2019 at 7:49 am

    I’ve only ever had the coconut milk version of this soup, but your version with all the veggies looks so clear and bright. Very inviting – will have to try it soon!

    1. mayurisjikoni

      August 9, 2019 at 6:09 am

      And I will have to try the coconut version soon, Mireille. Thanks.

  • shobhakeshwani

    August 8, 2019 at 11:20 am

    I love Tom yum soup .. lemon grass and kafir lime leaves add lovely flavours to it.

    1. mayurisjikoni

      August 9, 2019 at 6:08 am

      They certainly do, thanks Shobha.

  • Audrey

    August 9, 2019 at 2:55 pm

    I have never heard of this soup! It looks and sounds delicious. A welcome variety for me and my husband.

    1. mayurisjikoni

      August 11, 2019 at 10:02 am

      Thanks Audrey, hope you like it whenever you try it out.

  • Bleesing

    August 9, 2019 at 5:35 pm

    Your tips on Vegetarian Tom Yum Soup got me salivating, feel i should have it right away.

    1. mayurisjikoni

      August 11, 2019 at 10:01 am

      Thanks Bleesing. Its pretty easy to make once you’ve got the right ingredients.

  • fadedmix1108

    August 9, 2019 at 10:13 pm

    Made this with the baked crispy tofu and it was absolutely phenomenal!! Will definetly make again!

    1. mayurisjikoni

      August 11, 2019 at 10:00 am

      That’s an awesome idea, to bake the tofu, thanks.

  • Brianna S

    August 10, 2019 at 5:12 am

    This looks so good! I am going to check out your other recipes right now!

    1. mayurisjikoni

      August 11, 2019 at 6:35 am

      Thank you so much.

  • Rose A (@mail4rosey)

    August 10, 2019 at 3:06 pm

    I think the vegetarian version would be awesome. Also, it’s not something you have on the table every day so that makes it great to mix things up too.

    1. mayurisjikoni

      August 11, 2019 at 6:34 am

      Thanks Rose, veggie soups are a great way to get family to enjoy the health benefits of vegetables.

  • Lohas Canada

    August 10, 2019 at 4:54 pm

    That looks like a wonderful meal. I love dehydrating herbs and using them for later. My friend built a solar dehydrator to keep the costs down low. I use kaffir leaves when I cook Thai food and find that it leaves me with a full feeling. I’ll have to try this recipe out!

    1. mayurisjikoni

      August 11, 2019 at 6:34 am

      Thank you. That’s interesting, a solar dehydrator.

  • Lavern Moore

    August 10, 2019 at 8:06 pm

    My mouth is watering for this! This seems like something delicious to try.

    1. mayurisjikoni

      August 11, 2019 at 6:32 am

      Thanks Lavern, its delicious and nutritious.

  • Kristine Nicole Alessandra

    August 10, 2019 at 11:28 pm

    Every time we dine in a Thai restaurant, Tom Yum soup is always the first thing we order. I have not tried making this at home though. I will save your recipe and make this vegetarian version for my family.

    1. mayurisjikoni

      August 11, 2019 at 6:32 am

      Thanks Kristin, to make a non veg version you could just add meat of your choice while the soup is simmering.

  • TheSuperMomLife

    August 11, 2019 at 3:40 am

    This sounds really delicious. Since I stopped eating meat, I’ve found it hard to find vegetarian dishes that I love.

    1. mayurisjikoni

      August 11, 2019 at 6:31 am

      Thank you and you’ll perhaps find some interesting vegetarian recipes on my blog.

  • Preethi Prasad

    August 11, 2019 at 7:17 am

    I love this intensely flavorful tom yum Soup. Thankfully we get all the fresh herbs for the soup here.Thanks for the detailed explanation for dehydrating the herbs.

    1. mayurisjikoni

      August 11, 2019 at 10:00 am

      Thanks Preethi, I wish I could get the fresh ingredients back home. Will miss them.

  • emman damian

    August 11, 2019 at 4:32 pm

    Vegetarian Tom Yum Soup sounds so good! I hope I can eat some tonight. Your recipe is so nice to do!

    1. mayurisjikoni

      August 12, 2019 at 6:19 am

      Thank you so much Emman.

  • Vasusvegkitchen

    August 11, 2019 at 5:38 pm

    Tom yum soup looks very tasty and healthy, I never got a chance to taste many of the ingredients used in it. Loved the write up and the way you explained how to dry herbs at home is very helpful Mayuri di 👍.

    1. mayurisjikoni

      August 12, 2019 at 6:19 am

      Thank you so much Aruna, I too got to taste kaffir lime leaves for the first time during my visit to Thailand. Some herb flavors cannot be substituted.

  • dreaming.loud

    August 12, 2019 at 4:11 am

    I bet crab mushrooms taste great with this soup..! I love how big the cuts are.

    1. mayurisjikoni

      August 12, 2019 at 6:17 am

      Thanks, they do taste different from button mushrooms.

      1. Lata Lala

        August 16, 2019 at 6:02 pm

        The vegetarian tom yum soup looks so hearty and one bowl meal which is need of the hour in this rainy season. I am tempted to make it asap.
        Thanks for sharing.

      2. mayurisjikoni

        August 19, 2019 at 9:04 pm

        Thanks Lata, it is an ideal soup for the rainy season, hot and sour.

  • Sophie

    August 12, 2019 at 7:05 pm

    Mayuri, this is so so yum. I love Tom yum the most. I will definitely make this real soon.

  • Malini

    August 14, 2019 at 7:51 am

    What a comforting soup. “Tom Yum Soup” is a whole package with flavors and vegetables. I loved your write up, great detail and it is really helpful. I never tried all these ingredients together. Since it’s raining here, almost every day. I must try and get these ingredients and make this soup. Keep posting 🙂

    1. mayurisjikoni

      August 19, 2019 at 9:10 pm

      Thank you so much Malini.

  • jayashreetrao

    August 18, 2019 at 5:13 pm

    I have read this and tasted it couple of times, but never made it at home.I think I should make it soon. Looks delicious.

    1. mayurisjikoni

      August 19, 2019 at 8:59 pm

      Try it Jayashree is so comforting and delicious.

  • Vandana

    October 26, 2019 at 7:51 pm

    Your Tom yum soup looks so delicious and refreshing. I am big fan of Asian soups they are generally very flavorful and refreshing. A perfect bowl of comfort.

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