Inspired by Tom Yum hot and sour Thai Soup, this simplified vegan version uses easy-to-find ingredients and includes soy curls for meatiness and extra staying power (substitute tofu if you like). Made with ginger, garlic, lemongrass, mushrooms, and red curry paste, this spicy Thai soup is perfect when you crave your favorite Thai restaurant flavors at home.
There’s a small Thai restaurant in my hometown called Thai Garden. One of my favorite food memories is of going there with my mom for take out. We would usually share an order of their spicy Tom Yum Pak soup and an entree. Though I haven’t had their soup in many years, I remember how incredibly flavorful it was, with just the right blend of umami, sour lemon juice, and it’ll-cure-what-ails-you heat.
While this spicy Tom Yum-inspired soup recipe isn’t authentic, it does manage to capture the vibe. The main perks of this soup are that it uses accessible ingredients, comes together in 30 minutes, and is vegan, which is pretty much impossible to find in Thai restaurants.
You might be familiar with a Tom Yum variation that includes coconut milk, and it’s amazing, too! But for this recipe I wanted to stick to a more brothy hot and sour soup, rich with ginger, garlic and lemongrass, and perfect for the cold days ahead.
Lately I’ve been cooking with soy curls more often and am really enjoying their versatility. Made from just one ingredient, whole, non-GMO soybeans, I usually order Butler soy curls on Amazon. You might also be able to find them in smaller specialty markets, but buying online is the safest bet. They freeze well for extended storage, so I recommend buying a multi pack and keeping them on hand for a rainy day.
Options for Your Spicy Homemade Tom Yum-Inspired Soup
This is already a pretty loose interpretation of Tom Yum soup, so if you find yourself wanting to make substitutions for some of the ingredients, please feel free. The whole point of this recipe is to have accessible, super flavorful, spicy, warming Thai soup flavors at home whenever the mood strikes!
- Can’t find fresh lemongrass at the store? No problem. Red curry paste contains lemongrass, so you’re all set.
- Want to sub lemon for the lime? As I mentioned above, according to the menu at Thai Garden, they use lemon juice for the sour element in their soup. Either one works well.
- Want to sub chopped kale for the spinach, or leave out the greens altogether? Go for it.
- Want your soup to have EXTRA kick? Add diced Thai chiles to the sauté when you add the ginger and garlic.
- And for a cooling element, drizzle coconut milk, light or full-fat, into individual serving dishes, OR top each piping hot bowl with diced avocado!
If you try this Spicy Thai Soup recipe I would love to hear from you! Tag me on facebook or instagram with @myquietkitchen. And be sure to rate the recipe and leave a comment below to let us know how it turned out. Enjoy!
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Spicy Thai Soup With Soy Curls
- 1 (8 oz) bag Butler soy curls Or sub 16 oz firm tofu, and skip the rehydration and cooking process. Add the tofu straight to the pot of soup while it simmers.
- 3 Tbsp Thai red curry paste, divided
- 2 to 3 cups water for rehydrating the soy curls
- 2 Tbsp coconut oil, optional For oil-free diets, use water or broth for sauteing.
- 1 Tbsp freshly grated ginger
- 5 to 6 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 stalk lemongrass, smashed with your palm and cut into 3 or 4 pieces, optional Also in red curry paste; omit if you can't find it.
- 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (or more for extra spicy)
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 6 cups vegetable broth
- 8 ounces mushrooms, sliced
- 1 large red, yellow or orange bell pepper, chopped
- 2 handfuls raw baby spinach, optional
- 2 to 3 Tbsp tamari (GF) or soy sauce
- 1 Tbsp agave, maple syrup, or brown sugar
- 1 lime or lemon, zested and juiced
- fresh cilantro
- green onion, chopped
- 1 large avocado, diced
Prepare the soy curls:
- Place soy curls in a large shallow bowl or container. Dissolve 1 Tbsp red curry paste in 2 cups of water, and pour over soy curls. Add more water if needed so that the soy curls are mostly covered. Soak for 10 minutes, then drain. Gently squeeze excess moisture from soy curls, and pat dry with a towel.
- Preheat a large non-stick saute pan over medium heat. Add 1 Tbsp coconut oil, if using, and cook the soy curls until lightly browned, 6 to 8 minutes. Set aside.
Make the soup:
- Heat a stock pot over medium heat. Add 1 Tbsp coconut oil, if using, plus ginger, garlic, lemongrass, and crushed red pepper. Cook for about 30 seconds, stirring frequently. Add the onion, and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes.
- Add the broth, remaining 2 Tbsp red curry paste, mushrooms, bell pepper, spinach, tamari/soy sauce, agave, and lime zest. Bring to a simmer, and cook for about 10 minutes. Remove from heat, and stir in the lime juice.
- Arrange soy curls in individual serving bowls, and ladle soup over top. Garnish and serve.