Winter chill keeping you inside? Need some comfort food to warm you up? Soup is a staple dish in Thailand, and luckily we have a long list of decadent, flavorful soups for you to try. Thai soups get their fragrance from lemongrass, galangal, and kaffir lime, spiciness from chili, acidity from lemon juice or tamarind, and saltiness from fish sauce. January is National Soup Month, which is only keeping with the cold weather outside!
The most popular soup in Thailand is Tom Yum, a hot and sour Thai soup that is primarily cooked with shrimp. The name is derived from the Thai words Tom, meaning boil, and Yum, meaning mix. Tom Yum has a diverse flavor profile with fragrant spices and herbs and fresh ingredients such as kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass, lime juice, fish sauce, and galangal. The soup base, Nam Prik Pao. a sweet chili paste, gives the soup its distinct fiery kick made from roasted chilies. Added to the base are water, herbs, and meat. You can choose from shrimp, chicken, or pork, or if you want you can go vegetarian!
There are many more delicious types of soup in Thailand to try that we want to share with you! Check out our favorite Thai soups to make yourself for a long winter.
Tom Kha Gai
Tom Kha Gai is a Thai coconut soup that is both spicy and sour with ingredients including galangal, lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, mushrooms, and chicken (or tofu for a vegetarian option). The soup warms the heart while refreshing the palate with its creamy coconut base and refreshing, tangy ingredients.
This aromatic soup is bursting with flavor and one you’ll want to try at home. Check out the recipe here.
With tender, juicy chicken, coconut curry broth, and fresh noodles, this northern-style Thai soup is packed with flavor. One of the most critical steps in making this soup is the curry paste. The paste is made with various dry spices and fresh ingredients such as garlic, lemongrass, and ginger. Khao Soi is endemic to the northern city of Chiang Mai and can be found just about everywhere throughout this northern area. This curry noodle dish has also grown so much in popularity in recent years with restaurants adding it as a staple dish to their menu.
Here’s a favorite recipe of ours for you to try at home!
Unlike the previous soups, Tom Klong uses herbs that have been dried or roasted, and doesn’t contain coconut milk. This sour and spicy soup contains dried fish, galangal, kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass, shallot, and dry Thai chili peppers. If you’re brave and want some extra spice, add paprika!
If you love seafood and soup, try Tom Klong at home.
Gaeng Om Gai
Our final soup is an authentic bowl of soup straight from Isan, Thailand! Gaeng Om Gai is a Northeastern Thai chicken soup with fresh herbs, juicy chicken, and veggies. On Thailand Insider’s Thailicious Journey Through America, our team got the chance to visit a Thai NYC restaurant, Somtum Der, where we tried this chef-recommended dish that shows the authentic culinary culture of Isan!
Want to try it at home? Check out the ingredients and directions below, and prepare for your kitchen to fill with divine aromas and delicious flavors!
2 cups of water
200 grams of chicken thighs bone-in and skin-on (cut into bite-sized pieces)
3 tbsp of “Khao Buea” (Khao Buea is a blend of “Khao Kua” Thai roasted rice powder, shallots, and lemongrass)
2 Thai eggplants (cut into bite-sized pieces)
3 Thai red chiles (thinly sliced)
½ tsp of sugar (or to taste)
2 tbsp of “Plara” (Thai fermented fish sauce)
1 tbsp “Nam Pla” (Thai fish sauce)
Thai local herbs (all cut into bite-sized pieces)
3 stems of fresh dills (ผักชีลาว)
50 grams of Sawtooth Coriander (ผักชีใบเลื่อย)
2 stems of spring onions
80 grams of green cabbage
To make “Gaeng Om Gai” Isan/Northeastern Thai style chicken soup w/ local herbs
- First off you boil the water
- Then add the chicken thighs bone-in and skin-on
- Add “Khao Buea” (ข้าวเบือ) which is a blend of Thai roasted rice powder, shallots, and lemongrass (aka ข้าวคั่วหอมแดงตะไคร้) to add the aroma/thickness texture to the broth
- In goes Thai eggplants (these take some time to cook / cook until they turn translucent)
- Some Thai red chiles (more/less depending on your preferred spiciness)
- Some sugar (more/less to taste)
- Then add “Plara” (Thai fermented fish sauce/”Plara” is a big part of Isan Thai cuisine)
- And “Nam Pla” (Thai fish sauce) Fish sauce lends an umami flavor to every dish it touches and is a beloved ingredient in many Thai dishes.
- Then add a bunch of Thai herbs such as fresh dills (ผักชีลาว), Sawtooth Coriander (ผักชีใบเลื่อย), spring onions (ต้นหอม), green cabbage (กะหล่ำปลี).
- Bring it back to boil until everything is cooked and smells just right.
- “Gaeng Om Gai” is best served hot with a side of Thai jasmine rice.
Happy Soup Month!
There are many more soups to try at home, or you can head to your favorite local Thai restaurant to warm you up this winter! Spend National Soup Month savoring flavorful Thai soups with diverse ingredients and refreshing tastes. For more Thailicious episodes, visit our blog here.