Hawai’i Comfort Food: Tom Yum-Style Soup Recipe

An easier version of a Thai soup, this recipe is simple to make vegetarian or vegan for your family.


Photo: Martha Cheng

In our hunt for homemade soups, we discovered this recipe from HONOLULU’s Food and Dining Editor, Martha Cheng. This is a fast and easy version of the flavorful hot and sour soup from Thailand and can be tweaked to be vegetarian, vegan and as spicy as your family can handle. And, we’d like to mention, you can also find most of the ingredients locally grown.


See Also: 🥣 Hawai‘i Comfort Food: Wonton Soup Recipe

Tom Yum-Style Soup

Serves 6 as an appetizer, 3 as an entrée 



  • 4 stalks of lemongrass, tender centers only, roughly chopped
  • ½ Maui onion
  • 1-inch piece of ginger, peeled
  • 4 makrut lime leaves
  • 1 jalapeño, deseeded (or Hawaiian chile pepper)
  • 1-inch piece of turmeric (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon palm sugar or raw sugar
  • 1 hapa eggplant or another thin eggplant, cut into 2-inch lengths and then quartered lengthwise
  • 3 Roma tomatoes or 2 Beefsteak tomatoes
  • 8 ounces cremini or oyster mushrooms, sliced
  • Fish sauce to taste (or shoyu, if you want to make it vegan)
  • Two limes, juiced, or more to taste
  • ¼ cup cilantro

Optional additions: Coconut milk, shrimp, tofu



  1. In a blender, combine the lemongrass, onion, ginger, lime leaves, jalapeño, and turmeric (if using). Blend to a paste. Transfer to a medium saucepan.
  2. Fill the blender with 8 cups of water, swish to dislodge all the paste, and pour into the saucepan.
  3. Add the sugar and bring the water to a boil.
  4. Add the eggplant and tomatoes and simmer for 10 minutes, until the eggplant is cooked through. Add the mushrooms and simmer for a minute, just to warm through.
  5. Take the saucepan off the heat and add the fish sauce (or shoyu, if using) and half the lime juice. (Adding the lime juice off the heat helps it from turning bitter.) Add more fish sauce and lime juice to taste.
  6. Garnish with cilantro and serve.