This recipe is a sneak peek from my new cookbook SABAI, which is all about simple, weeknight-friendly Thai recipes. Tom yum soup is one of the most famous dishes in Thai cuisine, but most people only know the spicy and bold-flavoured version made with shrimp, or tom yum goong.
This chicken wing tom yum soup however has a simpler, cleaner-tasting broth, and it is one of the most soul-soothing dishes we have to offer. I love using chicken wings in soups for reasons I explain below, but there is also an option to use boneless chicken with a slight modification.
Here are all ingredients you'll need with some explanations and substitutions. For amounts and instructions, please refer to the recipe card.
- Chicken drumettes. I use drumettes as they are easier to eat in a soup. If you've got whole wings, save your flats for fish sauce wings! There is also an option to use boneless chicken thighs (see below).
- Galangal - fresh or dried. I keep mine frozen. If you can't find it, omitting it is fine.
- Makrut lime leaves (aka kaffir lime leaves) - fresh or dried will work.
- Shallots, roughly chopped.
- Oyster mushrooms, or another fresh Asian mushroom such as shimeji.
- Cherry tomatoes, grape tomatoes, or a large tomato cut into wedges.
- Dried chilies are traditional, but really we just wanna add some heat in there one way or another! So hot pepper flakes or chopped fresh Thai chilies will also do.
- Fish sauce. Here's how to choose good fish sauce.
- Lime juice
- Cilantro and/or green onions. Culantro (sawtooth coriander) also works beautifully here if you have it.
- Jasmine rice for serving; though this soup does eat well on its own. Here's how to make perfect jasmine rice.
How to Make Chicken Wing Tom Yum Soup
Here's a bird's eye view of the process. If it's your first time I highly recommend watching the full video tutorial to ensure success!
- Bring a pot of water to a boil and add the chicken wings, shallots, fish sauce and sugar. Simmer for 20 minutes or until the chicken is fork tender.
- Meanwhile, toast the dried chilies in a dry skillet over medium high heat until charred spots form. This takes just a few minutes.
- After chicken is done simmering, add the lemongrass, galangal, and makrut lime leaves.
- Add the chilies, breaking them for more heat. Add the mushrooms and simmer for 5 minutes.
- Add the tomatoes and simmer for about 2 minutes, or until soft but still holding together.
- Turn off the heat and add lime juice. Taste and adjust the seasoning with more fish sauce, lime juice, or sugar as needed. If it is too strong you can add some water.
- Stir in cilantro and/or green onions to finish.
- Serve with jasmine rice. See the end of the video for a couple of ways Thai people eat this soup.
Why Use Chicken Wings for Soup?
Chicken wing soup might sound like it would be difficult to eat, but Thai people love using them in soups for a reason. Chicken wings have an extremely high bone-to-meat ratio, and a lot of cartilage, which means that the wings can turn plain water into a broth richer and tastier than anything you can buy.
Also all this can be done in less than 30 minutes, and you can see how rich the broth is by the way any leftovers will gel up in the fridge!
Finally wings don’t require any chopping, and I’m all about less cleanup any time!
Substituting Boneless Chicken
If you don’t want to navigate chicken bones while eating soup, I get it. You can opt to use 1 pound (450 g) bite-sized pieces of boneless chicken thighs instead, but then you must use unsalted or low-sodium chicken stock instead of water in the recipe.
Without the bones, the meat will not produce a rich enough broth, and the soup will not be nearly as good. Check out my recipe for boneless chicken tom yum soup for further info.
What to Serve With Tom Yum Soup
While it's perfectly acceptable to eat tom yum soup on its own with some jasmine rice, in Thailand it's typically part of a bigger meal. Since the soup is light and tart, we want to pair it with something dry and/or rich:
- Vietnamese caramel chicken is a sweet-salty dish that would go perfectly with tom yum.
- Garlic pepper pork is a homey staple that could benefit for a little soup to help wash it down.
- Panang Beef Curry is a saucy rich curry that will contrast nicely with the lightness of tom yum.
- Shrimp and chili paste stir fry is another rich dish with a bit of sweetness that would pair well.
Tom Yum Soup with Chicken Wings
- 5 cups water
- 1½ pounds chicken drumettes, (see notes 1 and 2)
- ½ cup coarsely chopped shallots
- 3-4 tablespoons fish sauce
- 2-3 teaspoons granulated sugar
- 5 spicy dried chilies, such as Thai chilies or chiles de árbol, or more to taste (see note )
- 2 stalks lemongrass, bottom halves only, smashed and cut in 2-inch (5 cm ) pieces
- 10 thin slices galangal, about 25 g.
- 10 makrut lime leaves
- 3.5 ounces oyster or shimeji mushrooms
- 1½ cups halved cherry tomatoes
- 3 to 4 tablespoons lime juice
- 7 to 8 sprigs cilantro, chopped
- Jasmine rice, for serving
- Drumettes are easier to eat in soups than whole wings. If you’ve got the whole wings, save the flats for these easy and delicious Fish Sauce Wings.
- If you don’t want to navigate chicken bones while eating soup, I get it. You can opt to use 1 pound (450 g ) bite-sized pieces of boneless chicken thighs instead, but then you must use unsalted chicken stock instead of water. Without the bones, the meat will not give a rich enough broth and the soup will not be nearly as good.
FULL VIDEO TUTORIAL
All my recipes come with step-by-step video tutorials with extra tips not mentioned in the blog post, so make sure you watch the video to ensure success. If you enjoy them, consider subscribing to the YouTube Channel to not miss an episode. Thank you!Subscribe to my YouTube Channel
- Bring the water to a boil in a large pot over high heat. Add the chicken drumettes, shallots, 3 tablespoons (45 ml ) fish sauce and 2 teaspoons (10 ml ) sugar. Simmer for about 20 minutes, or until the chicken is fork-tender.5 cups water, 1½ pounds chicken drumettes, ½ cup coarsely chopped shallots, 3-4 tablespoons fish sauce, 2-3 teaspoons granulated sugar
- While the chicken is cooking, char the dried chilies for additional smoky flavor. Place the chilies in a dry skillet over medium-high heat and stir them for a few minutes until they develop charred spots and smell smoky. Keep an eye on them and don’t walk away! Once charred, set aside.5 spicy dried chilies
- When the chicken is tender, add the dried chilies (keep them whole for a milder soup, or break them up for a spicy soup), lemongrass, galangal, and mushrooms. Twist the makrut lime leaves to bruise them and release their aroma before tearing them into big chunks and adding to the pot, discarding any big center stems. Simmer for 5 to 7 minutes.2 stalks lemongrass, 10 thin slices galangal, 3.5 ounces oyster or shimeji mushrooms, 10 makrut lime leaves
- Add the tomatoes and cook for about 2 minutes, or just until the tomatoes are soft but still hold their shape. Turn off the heat and stir in 3 tablespoons (45 ml ) lime juice. Taste and adjust the seasoning with more fish sauce, sugar, or lime juice as needed. You want it to lead with sour and salty. The sweetness is there for balance, but the soup should not taste distinctly sweet. Before serving, you can remove the herbs, as they are not meant to be eaten; however traditionally they are left in the soup. I like to remove only half to make it a little easier to eat while keeping the traditional look. Be sure to remind your guests not to eat them!1½ cups halved cherry tomatoes, 3 to 4 tablespoons lime juice
- Garnish the soup with cilantro and serve with jasmine rice. The meat should be super tender and easy to pry off the bones with a spoon.7 to 8 sprigs cilantro, Jasmine rice