Lime, lemon grass and prawn Thai soup

This Thai prawn soup is made with fragrant herbs and it is spicy too. The basic stock consists of galangal, lemon grass, lime leaves, Thai birds eye red chillies. You can make this soup even with chicken or fish. I have used Knorr chicken stock cube instead of prawn shells as I had cleaned prawns without shell. I always make prawn stock with prawn shells, as it gives more flavour and taste to the dish when used. I have used lime skin (rind or zest) instead of lime leaves. I have also used my home made nam prik pao (chilli paste in oil) or you can use chilli oil (Lotus brand), which you can buy from any Chinese store. It is made of chillies and shrimp paste.

They are also really easy to make at home with exotic ingredients that you should be able to easily find at a local Asian grocery store or Thai store. This prawn soup balances spicy, sour, salty and sweet.


  • Raw prawns (medium size) - 10 to 12
  • For stock

  • Thai, birds eye red chilli - 2
  • Lime skin (rind) - 1
  • Coriander roots and stem – 1/2 cup or 8
  • Lemon grass – 2 to 3
  • Chicken stock cube (Knorr)- 1
  • Water - 4 cups
  • For soup

  • Mushroom (sliced) - 4
  • Carrot (sliced or chopped) – 1/2
  • Bean sprouts – few or 1/3 cup
  • Green Cabbage (shredded or chopped) – 1/3 cup
  • Spring onion (green part, chopped) – 1
  • Tamarind paste – 1/2 tsp
  • Lemon grass (chopped) – 2
  • Birds eye chilli (sliced) - 2
  • Coriander leaves - 1/2 cup or handful
  • Fish sauce – 5 tsp or 2 tbsp
  • Lime  – 1
  • Nam prik pao (optional) – 1 tbsp
  • Spring onion (chopped, green part) – 1
  • Capsicum (optional) – 1 tbsp



  • First remove the skin of a lime with the help of a grater. Take out the outer skin of lemon grass and crush on the thicker side of lemon grass and then roughly chop it.
  • Heat a vessel with 3 cups of water and bring it to boil. Add chicken cube and it will dissolve while boiling. If you have prawns shells, wash and put it instead of the chicken cube.
  • Add chopped lemon grass, its outer skin, coriander roots and stems, lime skin (rind) and 2 sliced chillies.
  • Close the lid and boil for 10 mins on medium flame and then simmer for another 10 mins. When the stock is ready, switch the heat off and strain. The stock is full of flavour and taste.
  • Soup

  • Put the stock in a vessel. Add all the vegetables (except coriander leaves) and boil it for 5 mins on a medium flame.
  • Add fish sauce, prawns, lime juice, coriander leaves (chopped) and boil for 3 to 4 mins. Then simmer for another 5 mins and switch the heat off. You can serve the soup at this stage.
  • Or

  • Add Nam Prik Pao sauce (chilli paste in oil) with its oil at the final stage of simmering after the prawns are cooked. You need to simmer for 5 to 7 mins before switching the heat off.
  • You can optionally add palm sugar or jaggery or 1/2 tsp of sugar. But in my nam prik pao I already added jaggery. If you also have jaggery in your nam prik pao, you can also avoid this.
  • Serve hot and enjoy this delicious prawn soup.


  • Taste the soup before you serve, if it is less sour can add more lime juice or require more fish sauce can add in it.
  • Before adding nam prik poa chilli paste oil, taste the soup, it is hot and sour and good flavour and taste is there. The same soup after adding chilli paste oil (nam prik poa) gives different flavour.
  • In this tom yam gai soup, I have used my home made nam prik poa for extra flavour and taste, but if you want you can add chilli oil (lotus brand), which you can buy from any Chinese store, it is made of chillies and shrimp paste.
  • While boiling stock, if the water gets reduced, there is lesser amount of stock, then add water and boil, to get adequate amount of stock. If the stock is boiled in simmer, it gives a good flavour, and absorbs all the flavour of ingredients.
  • If you want little spicier, can add one more chilli or can reduce also.
  • Lemongrass is the main ingredient, it gives the maximum flavour.
  • Chilli oil from lotus brand, you will get it easily, and it includes shrimp paste, instead of my home made nam prik pao.
  • I have not used salt at all, as fish sauce is salty.
  • In the same soup just add boiled chicken pieces instead of prawns it will become chicken soup.

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