In cold weather, I always crave big bowls of spicy, slurpy soup to warm me up. I love having tom kha gai soup when I go out for Thai food: it’s essentially tom yum soup with coconut milk and the spicy, tangy, creamy flavours hit all the right notes for me. I recently found tom yum paste at my local Asian grocery store, and it inspired me to try making tom kha gai for myself at home. I was shocked at just how easy and delicious it was with the store bought tom yum paste.
I call this recipe “lazy” because it relies on a few shortcuts. For example, the most authentic way to make this soup would be to use the real fresh Thai ingredients to make the tom yum paste (galangal, kefir lime leaves and lemongrass) but since I don’t get to go to the Asian grocery store very often, having all of those ingredients on hand is a pretty rare occurrence for me, and using the paste means I can make it any night of the week when I’m craving it. I also use leftover pre-cooked pork chops so that I don’t have to actually cook any meat, I just add it into the broth. You could also use rotisserie chicken, or even a soft boiled egg on top for protein, or just cook some thinly sliced pork or chicken in the pot in some tom yum paste before adding in the broth in step 1.
- 3 tablespoons tom yum paste
- 1 carton chicken broth
- 1 can coconut milk
- 2 tomatoes, sliced
- 1 package mushrooms, sliced
- 1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
- 1 small package thin vermicelli noodles
- 2 thinly sliced pre-cooked pork chops
- 1 tablespoon fish sauce
- Cilantro, to serve
- Lime, to serve
- In a large heat-proof bowl, cover vermicelli in boiling water for 5 minutes. Drain and cut with scissors, and set aside.
- In a large heavy-bottomed pot, heat chicken broth and tom yum paste on medium-high, mixing in tom yum paste until it has fully dissolved into broth.
- Once broth has come to a boil, reduce to a simmer and add in tomatoes, mushrooms and bell pepper. Simmer for 5-7 minutes, or until vegetables have slightly softened. For crunchier veggies, simmer for just 3-5 minutes.
- Stir in pork chops, fish sauce and coconut milk, continuing to simmer for a few minutes.
- Divide vermicelli into bowls and cover with soup just before serving. Sprinkle with cilantro and a squeeze of lime.