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Shredded Chicken and Lemongrass Soup | Tom Yum Gai | ต้มยำไก่

Shredded Chicken and Lemongrass Soup | Tom Yum Gai | ต้มยำไก่

I was flipping through David Thompson’s Thai Food cookbook the other day when I came across a recipe for this shredded chicken and lemongrass soup.  It immediately caught my attention, partly because it sounded great and partly because I already had all of the ingredients on hand to make it.

I showed the recipe to the boyfriend to see if it was a soup he was familiar with, but he just kinda shrugged his shoulders.  Without tasting it or seeing its name in Thai (the cookbook only provides transliterations), it was hard for him to know.

So without much input one way or the other, I decided to go ahead and give it a try.

Shredded Chicken and Lemongrass Soup | Tom Yum Gai | ต้มยำไก่

The soup starts with a broth that’s infused with lemongrass, galangal, and kaffir lime leaves, just like the more well-known coconut milk soup (tom kha gai).  Chicken is added to cook in and soak up the flavors of this broth and then the broth is seasoned with Thai chilis, lime juice, and fish sauce.  Once the broth is seasoned to your liking, you remove everything and then add back the chicken in shredded form and a new set of herbs which have been very finely sliced.

Shredded Chicken and Lemongrass Soup | Tom Yum Gai | ต้มยำไก่

After making the soup, adjusting the recipe to my tastes as I went along, I placed a steaming hot bowl of it in front of the boyfriend.  He took one sip of the broth and smiled.

“Oh yeah, my mom makes this soup for me all the time!”

Fortunately, he also said that my version tasted exactly how it’s supposed to, which is a light, refreshing broth that pops with complex flavors of lemongrass, lime, and chilis.  It’s a wonderfully delicious blend of hot, sour, and salty, just as any good Thai soup should be.  So I hope you give it a try and enjoy, whether this soup is new to you or not!

Shredded Chicken and Lemongrass Soup | Tom Yum Gai | ต้มยำไก่

 Shredded Chicken and Lemongrass Soup | Tom Yum Gai | ต้มยำไก่

Note: The transliteration provided in David Thompson’s cookbook for this soup is “Tom Jiw”.  I would be more than grateful if anyone knows what this actually translates to in Thai!

Shredded Chicken and Lemongrass Soup | Tom Yum Gai | ต้มยำไก่

Makes 2 servings

Shredded Chicken and Lemongrass Soup | Tom Yum Gai | ต้มยำไก่


  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 3 small shallots
  • 3 red Thai chilis, bruised
  • 1 inch piece galangal, sliced thinly
  • 2 stalks lemongrass, cut into 3 segments and bruised
  • 4 kaffir lime leaves, deveined
  • 1 chicken breast
  • 2 Tablespoons lime juice
  • 1 Tablespoon fish sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons lemongrass, sliced finely
  • 2 Tablespoons shallots, sliced finely
  • 4 kaffir lime leaves, sliced finely
  • 2 Tablespoons cilantro, chopped


  1. Combine the chicken broth and water in a pot and bring to medium heat.
  2. Add the shallots, chilis, galangal, lemongrass, and torn kaffir lime leaves to the pot and let simmer for 5-10 minutes.
  3. Next add the chicken breast to the pot of herbs and let cook. Once the chicken is cooked through, add the fish sauce and lime juice and then remove the pot from the heat.
  4. Take the chicken out of the broth and shred it into bite-sized pieces. Remove the herbs as well, leaving just the broth (save the chilis for plating).
  5. Add the shredded chicken and all of the finely sliced herbs (lemongrass, shallots, kaffir lime leaves, cilantro) to the broth. Top with reserved chilis and enjoy!

Recipe adapted from David Thompson's Thai Food

11 comments… add one
  • Jennifer November 28, 2018, 8:36 pm

    What do you eat this with?

    • Rachel November 29, 2018, 11:29 pm

      Hi Jennifer! Usually Thai soups are eaten as part of a complete meal, along with jasmine rice, a meat dish or two, and a few vegetable dishes.

  • Patrick July 2, 2015, 1:17 pm

    Thank you so much for this amazing recipe, i live in England and had this soup many years ago but could never remember the name, i made my wife it the other day and she was blown away by the amazing flavors, So again thank you so much for bringing back the best soup ever to my life. If i could i would kiss you XXXXXXXXXXXX

    • Rachel July 2, 2015, 6:55 pm

      Haha, I’m so glad you guys liked it :)

  • Fatiha February 22, 2014, 1:57 pm

    Hi Rachel,

    thank you so much for this great recipe. I just love it!
    many thanks:-)

    • Rachel February 22, 2014, 9:02 pm

      Glad you like it, Fatiha!

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  • Habiba December 23, 2012, 5:13 pm

    Wow, the combo of ingredients sounds fantastic!

  • Challa December 18, 2012, 3:37 pm

    Tom yum is our favourite soup and i tried your rcepie today. It turned out as good as our neighbourhood’s thai restaurent. Few extra changes I did was added tom yum paste (with out shrimp) instead of fish sauce as I am vegetarian. I also strained the soup after chilli paste step ( threw away all the lemon grass and lemon leaves as soup already had the aroma and flavour of it) and continued with rest of the steps. Great outcome. Now we dont have to run out in new england’s cold to get our favourite soup ..

    • Rachel December 23, 2012, 9:37 pm

      So glad it turned out for you, Challa!

  • amy November 25, 2012, 10:07 pm

    Looks SO good, like it would really hit the spot! :)

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