Tom Yam, Tom Kha and the secret world of Thai soups

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Thai noodle soup by sailing in local floating boat market

Tom Yam, Tom Kha and the secret world of Thai soups

When you see the Word ‘Tom’ on a Thai menu you are looking at a delicious Thai-style soup.
Tom literally means ‘boiling’ and is followed by another word which indicates which type of soup it is. There are many different kinds and variations so it can be tricky to know what’s what. However, there are some things they all share, like chilies and fish sauce. Tamarind is also often added to balance out the flavour and add a touch of sourness.
And, most importantly, they all taste amazing! Not only that, they’re super healthy! Packed with nutrients and several ingredients with medicinal properties, making them an excellent choice if you’re feeling a little under the weather or you need something comforting to get you through a cold winter’s day.
To help you choose what soup to make, we will reveal the difference between some of the main Tom dishes: Tom Yam, Tom Kha, Tom Kloang and Tom Chuet.

Tom Yum paste
Tom Yam is spicy, sour, a little sweet, incredibly aromatic and flavorful.

Tom Yam

Also known as ‘Tom Yum’ is, without a doubt, the most well-known Thai soup and it’s also Thailand’s national dish.

It’s a light broth with a distinctive balance of spicy and sweet, with a hint of sour from the tamarind. The key ingredients used to achieve this unique flavour are lemongrass, galangal, kaffir lime and, of course, fish sauce. A generous dose of chilies makes it quite a hot option.

Tom Kha paste
Tom Kha is rich and creamy yet tangy.

Tom Kha

‘Kha’ means galangal and this is one of the main ingredients that emerges from this dish. Galangal looks a lot like ginger, but it has a milder citrusy flavour.

To make Tom Kha you use coconut milk so this is a much creamier thicker soup than most. You usually add chicken, which would make the popular version ‘Tom Kha Kai’.

Thai soups
Bangkok has an estimated 500,000 street vendors, and you’ll want to try them all!

Tom Kloang

This tends to be quite a salty broth because it’s generally made with salted fish.

The saltiness was traditionally balanced out with roasted shallots, but you can also add some sugar instead. There is also a hint of tamarind sourness.

Tom Chuet
Tom chuet is a simple, clear soup made with vegetables.

Tom Chuet

This is a clear vegetable broth to which you can add meatball, glass noodles and tofu before you garnished generously with fresh cilantro.

It’s a simple soup with a milder flavour compared to some of the others, but still alive with Thai aroma.

So next time you’re battling with a cold, swap your chicken broth for one of these mouth-watering soups.
Head to our store and try the deSIAM Tom Yam soup paste or Tom Kha soup paste for a bold and exotic Thai meal.

Time to cook!

Tom Kha Kai is one of the easiest, quickest, yet most flavourful soups you will ever taste! It is light yet creamy, sweet yet citrusy and bursting with layer upon layer of fantastic flavour. It can be served as a main course or appetizer, with or without rice, reheats beautifully.

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