25 November, 2007

Winter Warmers: Thai Clear Soups

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Tome Yum Soup with Mushroom & Tofu

With the mercury hitting south in our part of the globe, our kitchen smells of sizzling pots of soups, rasams and dals. Sizzling bowl of soup with warm bread straight from the oven or steaming cup of rice with hot Rasam/Dal is what we crave for. After my successful attempt at making Thai Curries, I was keen to learn and cook something new. Thai food is greatly influenced by its neighbours, India, China, Malaysia and Laos. No wonder our Indian taste buds start singing and dancing when tasting Thai food, an explosion of salty, spicy, sweet and sour flavours that sparkle with personality. The four main Thai flavour groupings are salty (from fish sauce), sweet (from coconut and palm sugar), spicy (from dry and fresh chillies) and sour (tamarind, lime, lemongrass), with the less used bitter as a fifth primary flavour. These five primary flavours are the characteristics of Thai cooking, something to touch and delight every taste bud.

As I said in my earlier post, don’t get intimidated by the unfamiliar ingredients used in Thai cooking. There are good substitutes available which you can use if few ingredients are not available in your local shop or you can omit those ingredients which you are not very fond of. And more importantly, don’t be afraid to make changes to suit your taste. While cooking Thai food at home, we found that the food tasted much better than the one from local Thai restaurant. And why it shouldn’t, with freshest of fresh ingredients used, homemade curry pastes and spices made a whole difference. You will never get to see the liberal use of fresh ingredients in any restaurant as at home. Many people shy away from cooking Thai food under the misconception that it takes lot of time and ingredients which are unfamiliar to them. Something magical is created when you cook Thai food or any foreign food over time and the ingredients which were aliens in the beginning become more familiar. I find the time consuming dishes more rewarding. Believe me when I say it is as close as meditation when you get to use mortar and pestle and pound out day’s anxiety.

With today’s recipes we want to prove that Thai cuisine can be as simple as it can get and you need not use many ingredients to taste some authentic Thai fair. By planning ahead and little preparation everyone can cook delicious Thai food which sure to please every taste bud. Make sure you use the best and freshest ingredients and be flexible. Cook with an air of playfulness, experiment with flavour and learn to balance. If you are not sure and nervous, follow the recipe strictly and pay careful attention to the final result. As you taste the dish, think to yourself: is it spicy/sweet/sour/salty enough? Does it suit your palate? Most importantly, remember to please yourself-cook the food the way you like it because it should taste good to you and enjoy the whole process. Every time we experiment and cook, we learn something new. Cooking is as refreshing as meditation with delicious food as a reward and nobody can say no to this delicious reward :)

Armed with our new acquisition Real Vegetarian Thai by Nancie McDermott to our empty cookbook rack we tried two Thai clear soups, Tome Yum Soup with Mushroom & Tofu and Jasmine Rice Soup with Mushrooms, Green Onions & Crispy Garlic. As author says, “Soup is an essential component of almost every meal, served and savored along with rice and its accompanying dishes. In keeping with Thailand’s Chinese culinary ancestry, soup functions as a beverage, a liquid refreshment that cleanses the palate between bites and makes way for further rides on roller coaster of tastes that make up a classic Thai meal.” Most of the Thai Vegetarian recipes are also perfect for Vegans and I thought these soups will be a perfect entries for this Vegan Month. These two Thai Clear Soup goes to Suganya's Vegan Ventures Event.
Nancie says,
“Tome Yum Soup with Mushroom & Tofu is a one bowl celebration of Thailand’s sparkling cuisine. Spicy hot with roasted chilli paste and sharply fragrant with lemongrass, wild lime leaves, and a squeeze of lime, tome yum sounds an inviting reveille to your senses.”
And I totally agree with her. This delicious flame-colored broth studded with green herbs and vegetables with exotic citrus perfume is a pure delight to one’s senses. Serve hot with a bowl of jasmine rice and enjoy its healing power.

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Tome Yum Soup with Mushroom & Tofu
Prep Time: 10 mins
Cooking Time: 20 mins
Makes: 3-4
4 cups Vegetable Stock
2 Lemongrass Stalks
3+2 Kaffir Lime Leaves, cut into long stripes
1 inch Galangal/Ginger, sliced (Optional)
3 tbsp Lime Juice, freshly squeezed
3 Spring Onions, thinly sliced
1 Green Chilli, thinly sliced
1 cup Tofu, cut into 1cm cubes
1 cup Button Mushroom, thinly sliced
½ cup Carrot, julienned (Optional)
½ cup Red Bell Peppers, cut into i cm pieces (Optional)
1-2 tbsp Sambal Olek
1 tbsp Basil Leaves, finely chopped (Optional)
2 tsp Palm Sugar
1-2 tsp Soya Sauce
Salt to taste
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Tome Yum Soup with Mushroom & Tofu

In a large pan bring vegetable stock to boil over medium heat.
Meanwhile, trim the lemongrass stalk by removing upper hard, dried skin leaving smooth stem. Cut the stalk into 2 inch pieces and lightly bruise the stalk with pestle and mortar.
Add bruised lemongrass , 3 kaffir lime leaves strips, galangal to boiling stock and reduce the heat to low. Let the ingredients simmer for 5-8 minutes till lemongrass stalks turn into khaki green and nice citric aroma fills the room.
While the soup simmers, combine spring onion greens, 2 kaffir lime leaves strips, green chilli slices and lime juice and place them into serving bowls and keep aside.
Scoop lemongrass stalks, galangal from vegetables stock and discard. Add tofu, mushrooms, carrot, bell peppers, basil leaves, sambal olek, soya sauce, sugar, spring onion and salt to taste and increase the heat to high.
When the soup boils again, remove it from heat and pour it on serving bowls and serve at once with Jasmine Rice.

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Tome Yum Soup with Mushroom & Tofu

Nancie says, “Rice soup is comfort food in Thailand, simmered up from leftover rice to nourish a family member who is ill. It is also popular as a hearty breakfast or midnight snack. Cold, fever, aches, hangover and heartbreaks all seem to soften their edge just a little when a generous steaming bowl of Kao Tome appears.” And how can we not try this soup which claims to have medicinal properties and can be served as one-dish meal to satisfied our taste buds. We omitted Wheatballs or Wheat Gluten which the recipe calls and made few changes to suite our taste.

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Jasmine Rice Soup with Mushrooms, Green Onions & Crispy Garlic

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Jasmine Rice Soup with Mushrooms, Green Onions & Crispy Garlic
Prep Time: 15 mins
Cooking Time: 20 mins
Serves: 3-4
1 tbsp Garlic, coarsely chopped
½ tsp freshly ground Pepper
¼ cup Coriander Roots or Steams, coarsely chopped
5 cups Vegetable Stock
1 cup Mushrooms, thinly sliced
½ cup Carrots, shredded
½ cup Sugar Snap Peas, cut into 1 inch pieces (Optional)
1½ cups Cooked Jasmine Rice
¼ cup Spring Onion, chopped
1-2 tbsp Coriander Leaves, coarsely chopped
2 tbsp Crispy Garlic in Oil (Recipe follows. Original recipe used ¼ cup)
1 stalk Lemongrass (Optional)
½ inch Galangal/Ginger (Optional)
½-1 tsp Palm Sugar
Salt to taste
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Jasmine Rice Soup with Mushrooms, Green Onions & Crispy Garlic

In a blender, combine 1 tbsp garlic, pepper, coriander roots/stems with little vegetable stock and grind to smooth paste.
Heat vegetable stock in a pan and mix in ground paste over a low flame. Add bruised lemongrass stalk, sliced galangal if using and bring the stock to boil in low flame.
Meanwhile, deep fry or pan fry sliced garlic pieces till they are crisp and golden and transfer to paper towel till required.
Heat 1 tbsp vegetable oil in a pan and add mushrooms. Toss them for about 3-5 mins until they are shiny and tender and keep them aside.
Discard lemongrass stalk and galangal from vegetable stock and add sautéed mushrooms, carrots, sugar snap peas, sugar and salt to taste and cook for further 5-8 minutes over low heat.
Add cooked jasmine rice, spring onions and cook for further 5 minutes.
Serve hot or warm soup garnished with crisp fried garlic and coriander leaves and enjoy this one-dish meal.

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Jasmine Rice Soup with Mushrooms, Green Onions & Crispy Garlic

To check substitutes for different ingredients used in Thai Cuisine and also read more of Thai Cooking at Monsoon Spice Click Here. Also Read
Thai Vegetarian Red Curry
Thai Veg and Tofu Green Curry
How to cook Jasmine Rice
How to make Thai Red Curry Paste
How to make Thai Green Curry Paste
Also Check Jugalbandi’s Thai Pantry.


  1. Clear soups are my favorite. Rice soup looks like rasam rice for me:D. I'm sure they were delicious......

  2. You are right about the mercury dipping :( but after taking one look at your soup I am starting to get perky.

  3. Looking at those soups have already warmed me to a great extent...lovely.

  4. Sia, loved your analogy of feeling refreshing after cooking and meditation. Even I have felt that wholesome experience while cooking and tasting soups.
    I commend you for trying out so many new varieties of cusines and as usual the clear soup looks wonderful and it is a co-incidence that I have posted a soup recipe as well.

  5. this sounds like a great book with very accessible recipes. we plan to made tom yum soup soon.

  6. ur pics are lovely as usual....

  7. Both the soups are really yummy! would love to try these! more so, because these days, i am in a bread-n'-soup mode :-D.

  8. That does look very comforting. A complete meal in a bowl.

  9. wow Sia wonderfull post :) tome yam soup one of my favorite and what an array of thai food. i love thai food extemely becuse of the spicess. thks dear :)

  10. Ooo, Sia! I just bought Nancie's cookbook a few weeks ago - absolutely love the recipes there!

    I was hoping to try some soups in the next couple of weeks, you've totally sold me on it now! Especially with those fabulous pictures :)

  11. wow! those look lovely. but then again, there is a considerably long list of ingredients involved, right? :) still, it looks very warming for winter!

  12. Wow Sia
    Those soups will definitely keep me warm throughout this winter.
    Never tried thai soups but now i am gonna give them a try!!
    Hey few more days for your holiday, bet you must be so excited!!

  13. @shivapriya,
    they might look like rasam rice but tasted quite different for sure;)

    lol... good for u indo:)

    aha... does that mean u r just gonna sit and see the pic or gonna make some for urself?;)

  14. @redchillies,
    its getting nippier here and i guess its the same for u too. i am sure we will find many soup recipes in foodblogs now:) will hop to ur blog soon to check what have u been brothing:)

    this book is really good with few notes and tips. my only prob with it is you need to check different pages as the listed ingredient's recipes are noted in different pages. so while cooking u need to jump from one page to other but other than that its got clean flow.

    thank u:)

  15. @musie,
    lol...most of us are in bread and soup mode these days:)
    sorry, i couldn't reply to ur mail musie. been quite busy these days,

    thank u:)

    u r welcome dear:) tome yam soup is my fav too and it tasted better than what we get in restarants here.

  16. @kaykat,
    oh! have u? did u try any of the recipes there? yesterday i tried one of the rice dishes. will post the recipe soon.

    thanks. more than half of the ingredients are just vegetables. so i won't say its a long list;)

    do try them padma.
    and hey, sat i watched saturday kitchen. i had completely forgotten abt the show and right on time i flicked the channel and saw u chatting with anothony:) got a glimpse of ur family pic too:) u were wonderful:)

  17. I am back but I enjoyed the break so much, I don't really want to blog anymore but will!!:D
    Great soups for Winter, it's raining here today, foggy for a change.
    I have that book too, haven't tried it yet. Enjoy your soups, I like the clear soup.

  18. Sia, you made cooking Thai food so simple!, will try out these lovely soups definitely.

  19. Thai clear soups are my fav. Thanks Sups, this is going to be re-created soon

  20. Thai Queen! You simply amaze me with your thai dishes. Just perfect. My hubby would love this. Thankyou so much for sharing this.

  21. I love Tom Yum Soup... perfect for this weather. Both look amazing Sia.

  22. I have all the ingredients (except kaffir lime leaves) on hand. And it sounds so easy. And, thanks for the book recommendation, Sia. Thank you so much for participating.

  23. lovely! i so want to try that tome yum sooooon :)
    so u feel like meditation with ur mortar/pestle ;) grinding away all the tensions eh? hugs

  24. I love thai soups, usually made some rice noodles to go along with them. Jasmine rice is a great idea too... looks lovely Sia :)

  25. wow, nice soups Sia! I prefer the Tom Khai Gai more, as it's coconut-milk based, over the Tom Yum..but I really liked your other one with jasmine rice:) will try it soon!

  26. Tom yum yum soup! :) They're both lovely, Supriya. Can almost catch the aroma from here!

  27. Hey, these look so yummy!!!! Weather is getting really cold at my part of the world too.. And I'm def gonna try these out. Thanx for sharing!

  28. With a sore throat and a running nose, the sight of these soups is serving as a placebo for me.......:P

  29. Love the clear soup....yum yum!!

  30. Looks superb sia!!!Thanx for sharing this wonderful soup recipes!!!

  31. Hi Sia,
    Fantastic looking soup!!! I liked one with Jasmine rice. Lovely presentation. Thanks for sharing.

  32. A good collection Sia. Lovely soup. Viji

  33. Hi Sia,
    Gr8 pics and recipe. Nothing like hot soup to confort you during the cold months :)

  34. @ashakka,
    Aha, so u had wonderful time then. LOL…I know u cant stop blogging;)
    God, how many cooking books do u have?;) r u planning to open ur own book store or library? ;) he he he…

    Thai cooking is really simple bindiya. Do check the thai curries I have posted where I have given a list of substitutes. I hope u do give it a try:)

    I am so glad to hear that san:)

  35. @kribha,
    LOL… You might offend the real thai queen now kribha dear;) so ur hubby loves thai food han?

    Thanks lav:)

    U can omit kaffir lime leaves and make this. It won’t make much difference. Add lemon peel/zest and see how u like it.
    It was my pleasure to send u these soups sug:)

  36. @richa,
    Lovely, I too so much want u to try this recipe richa;)
    LOL… K stays away when I am using mortar and pestle;) so u know now, how useful this M&P are for me;)

    I am not that fond of noodles and I hate them dangling from my mouth;) I love the smell of jasmine rice. So I am bit partial to rice;)

    I too love coconut based soups. But sometimes its plain clear soups which satisfies me the most, especially at this time of the year:)

  37. @sagari,
    Thank u:)

    Yum yum soup indeed:) lol… thanks linda:)

    Tem is dropped to minus here ramya. Soups and rasams is the only thing which comes to my mind now:) do let me know how u like it:)

  38. @bhags,
    Oh poor u:( ask ur hubby dear to make this for u bhags:) sending u get well soon wishes and warm hugs:)

    Thank u:)

    U r welcome raks:)

  39. @MT,
    Thank u MT. I hope u do give them a try:)

    Thank u viji:)

    U r absolutely right. I cant think of anything else than rasams and soups :)

  40. Thats such a nice soup Sia. I am great fan of Thai dishes but hubby does not like them. So we almost never go to Thai restaurants. Now with your recipes I think I can cook them at home too. Thanks a lot.

    Please go ahead and provide a link to the paintings. Thanks for your help :)

  41. I had a taste of thai last weekend from a thai rest'nt but ur soup looks better than the one I had !! Now thats a compliment :)

  42. Haven't tried clear soups .. Ur picture of thai clear soup looks sooooooooooo lovely ,that it has kindled my taste buds.. will try it soon. thanks. lovely pics.

  43. Hi Sups,

    You are really Thailady:))Becoz i see more thai recipes only in ur blog....but soups are my all time favourite...with little spicy and hot..hmmm yummy.....

    Still enjoying at my sister's place...will be back to home on Dec1st.

  44. Lovely pictures! :) I liked the clear soups served in Bankok! This looks similar. But I dislike the taste of mushrooms!

  45. Hi Sia
    Visiting your blog for the first time and am impressed by its content. Will visit it more often
    Am a fellow blogger from Botswana and am a cake lover.
    Do vist my blog when ever you can
    In the meantime, have happy holidays


Namaste! I am Sia and welcome to Monsoon Spice, my virtual home. Thank you for all your comments, inputs and feedback. I really appreciate the valuable time you spent browsing through my recipe repertoire.

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