Tom Yum Chicken Noodle Soup
This tom yum chicken noodle soup is great if you’re looking for some quick and easy comfort food. Imagine chicken noodle soup with some tang, extra umami, and fragrant notes of lemongrass. There’s also minimal clean up with this convenient, one-pot recipe.
Inspired Tom Yum Gai
This recipe is inspired by Tom Yum Gai or chicken tom yum soup. While tom yum soup is typically served alongside other Thai entrees, I decided to add rice stick noodles to make this soup a meal of its own.
While it is not totally authentic, this quick, one-pot recipe will be sure to get you flavors reminiscent of the widely loved tom yum soup.
Quick and easy to make, this soup is also great to cook up on those busy weeknights or when you’re feeling under the weather and wanting to change up your usual chicken noodle soup.
If you’re craving more hot noodle soup, make sure to check out these recipes as well: guksu jungeol, jjamppong, janchi guksu, and kimchi udon.
Ingredients for simple Tom Yum Gai
It is the classic Thai aromatics that give this soup its uniquely fragrant tom yum soup taste. The three main herbs are lemongrass, galangal, and Makrut lime leaves.
You can find lemongrass at most supermarkets now. However, you will most likely have to go to your local Asian supermarket (e.g., H-mart) to find the other two herbs.
- Lemongrass – These long stalks are a popular culinary herb in Asian cuisine. It has a soft minty and citrusy flavor and is rather fragrant. You can also freeze any extra lemongrass for future use.
- Makrut Lime Leaves – Previously known as kaffir lime leaves, these leaves come from the Makrut lime tree. I buy a pack of fresh leaves for this recipe, and freeze any unused leaves for future use.
- Galangal Root – It kind of looks like ginger, but has a very distinct, peppery taste with flavor notes of citrus and earthy pine.
To get deep flavors in just 30 min, this recipe uses ready-made chicken broth. However, we also get some extra flavor from the boneless chicken thighs that are also cooked in the soup.
The salty seasoning and umami comes from the fish sauce. I like to specifically use the Red Boat fish sauce for this recipe.
The savory flavor is also balanced out with some sweetness. As usual, my go to natural sweetener is coconut sugar. It has a softer and almost caramel-like sweetness.
The soup is finished with the juice of one lime. This gives it that tangy flavor classic of tom yum soup. More authentic recipes may also add tamarind paste or juice for that sour taste.
Vegetables & Noodles
The usual vegetables in tom yum soup are oyster mushrooms, shallots, tomato, and cilantro to garnish.
Because I’m trying to make this recipe a cross between tom yum soup and the classic American chicken noodle soup, some of the vegetables are switched up.
This recipe uses celery, white button mushrooms (they’re a bit cheaper than oyster mushrooms), shallots, and Roma tomatoes or Heirloom tomatoes (if they are in season).
Instead of egg noodles, I use rice stick noodles.
Since the noodle are cooked directly in the boiling soup for this one-pot recipe, I recommend serving and eating it right away before the noodles soak up a good chunk of the soup.
These are some other common ingredients that I do not add in my recipe, which I will again emphasize is an inspired, quick version of the classic tom yum soup!
More authentic recipes also like to add nam prik pao, Thai roasted chili paste. The thick, almost jam-like paste is sweet, savory, and usually only mildly spicy. It’s made with chilis, garlic, chives, and dried shrimp, and seasoned with fish sauce and tamarind paste.
I’ve tried using nam prik pao for this soup and it does add an extra kick of umami. However, I found that when I do not add it, I can more vividly taste the lemongrass, galangal, and lime leaves. If you do want to add it in this recipe, I have some suggested modifications in the recipe notes.
A couple of Thai bird’s eye chili are also usually added for some heat. These are small, red or green chilis that pack a punch. They are really spicy, so please handle them with care! You can freeze any extra for later use.
If you want to make a creamier soup (Tom Kha Gai), stir a couple tablespoons of evaporated milk into the soup.
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Mise en place
If you make this Tom Yum Chicken Noodle Soup, I would love to hear your thoughts! Feel free to leave a comment and/or recipe rating at the bottom of this page. And if you have a photo of your food, be sure to tag @chrisseenplace on Instagram!
Tom Yum Chicken Noodle Soup
- 1½ tbsp cooking oil (e.g., avocado oil)
- 3 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1 lb skinless, boneless chicken thighs
- 4 cups chicken broth
- 1 tsp nam prik pao (optional, see notes*)
- 2 stalks lemongrass, bottom half smashed (outer green layers peeled off)
- 3 slices galangal (about ⅛" thick)
- 6 leaves makrut lime leaves, torn
- ⅔ cup shallots, chopped
- 1½ cup mushrooms, thinly sliced
- 1 cup celery, thinly sliced
- 2 tbsp fish sauce
- 1½ tsp coconut sugar
- 180 g rice stick noodles (medium size) (see notes**)
- 1 cup roma or heirloom tomato, chopped
- 2 tbsp fresh lime juice (or TT)
- ¼ cup cilantro leaves
- Heat the avocado oil in a medium sized pot over medium heat.
- Add the crushed onions, briefly sautee.
- Add the chicken and let it cook for 5 minutes, flipping them over half-way through the cook time.
- Add the chicken broth, lemongrass, galangal, and lime leaves, and bring the soup to a boil while covered.
- Lower the heat to a simmer and let it cook for about 10 minutes.
- Soak the rice stick noodles in a large bowl of hot water for 6 minutes (you can continue on to the following steps during this time).
- Turn off the heat, add the fish sauce coconut sugar into the soup, and scoop out the lime leaves.
- Cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces using your kitchen scissors.
- After the noodles have soaked in the hot water for about 6 minutes, rinse them in new water to wash off some of the starch, then drain and set aside.
- Bring the soup back to a boil again and add the celery, mushrooms, shallots, and noodles. Let it cook for about 4-5 minutes or until noodles are almost cooked through.
- Add the tomatoes and cook for another minute.
- Turn off the heat. Add the lime juice (2 tbsp or TT) and cilantro leaves.
- Ladle the soup and noodles into bowls (leaving behind the lemongrass stalks, and galangal) and serve immediately.