Tom Yum Soup: The Delicious Thai Soup Now Being Studied for Its Powerful Healing Benefits

by Brian Vaszily, founder of

"Laughter is brightest where food is best."
- Irish Proverb

If I was told that I had to choose only one type of food to eat for the rest of my life -- and I'm not sure who'd have the power or cruelty to mandate such a thing, but pretend with me here -- I'd be very upset and say something like, "The edible type."

That's because I adore food and believe eating is an art. For the sensual delight, for the ability to bring people together, for the nostalgia it can inspire, and for the vast historical and cultural stories behind it, food and eating are among the most intense experiences we have.

But if I was told I had to narrow my answer way down, I'd spend a long time deciding between chocolate cake or Tom Yum Soup. Then I would finally do the responsible thing and choose the magic soup.

Tom Yum Soup originated in Thailand and is one of the most popular and reverred dishes in all of Thai cuisine for four primary reasons:

1) It is absolutely delicious

2) It is about as healthy as healthy gets

3) It is QUICK and easy to make

4) It is versatile -- add this ingredient, or keep that one out, and it creates a new but still incredible-tasting soup

Characterized by its distinct hot and sour flavors -- though if you don't like spicy you can opt to keep the "hot" out (but how dare you!) -- the basic broth is made of stock and many fresh ingredients like lemon grass, garlic, lime juice, shitake mushrooms, peppers and crushed chilis.

A Delicious Bowl of Immunity

Tom Yum Soup has been under scientific study because of its belief to have immune-boosting powers to help with cold and flu viruses.

Thailand's Kasetsart University and Japan's Kyoto and Kinki Universities conducted a joint study and found that the ingredients in Tom Yum Soup are 100 times more effective in inhibiting cancerous tumor growth than other foods.

"The ratio of the cancer pattern in Asians, especially southeast Asians, is very low compared with the pattern in the European and Western countries," says researcher Jiwajindra of Kasetsart University.

In fact, Thai people have a much lower incidence of digestive tract cancers than do people of other countries.

So if the idea of amazing taste and health in a bowl appeals to you -- not to mention an excuse to repeat the fun name ... try saying "Tom Yum" five times fast! -- try this easy-to-follow recipe below.

NOTE: This is my friend's amazing version of Tom Yum Soup...

Tom Yum Soup


  • 3 cups chicken stock or chicken broth
  • 1 stalk lemongrass, sliced thinly (tough outer leaves and bulb removed)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 green and 1 red pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1, 2 or 3 small Jalapeno peppers (depending on desired spiciness)
  • 2 stalks green onions, cut small
  • 1/3 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • A handful of fresh shiitake mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 12 medium or large raw shrimp, shells removed; and/or chicken pieces; and/or turkey cubes; and/or tofu
  • A handful of cherry tomatoes
  • The juice of one lime and/or lemon
  • One to two squirts of Sriracha Hot Chili Sauce (best one is by Huy Fong Foods) - (optional--ONLY if you like spicy!)
  • 2 Tbsp. fish sauce


  1. Pour stock or broth into a deep cooking pot, add lemongrass, garlic, Jalapeno peppers, red and green peppers. Simmer 5 minutes.
  2. Add all other ingredients and let simmer for 15 minutes.
  3. Enjoy! (Or as they say in Thailand, "Plêrt-plern!")