Tom Yum Kai Soup (Thai Chicken Spicy and Sour Soup)

Tom Yum Kai Soup

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: easy
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  • 1 chicken breast, boneless, skinless, cut into 5mm (1/4″) thick slices
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 4 cups water
  • 2.5cm (1″) piece of galangal or ginger, peeled and sliced into 5mm (1/4″) thick slices
  • 2 stalks lemongrass, cut into 2cm (3/4″) pieces
  • 2 makrut lime leaves (optional)
  • 1 garlic clove, minced (optional)
  • 1-2 Tbsps fish sauce
  • 2 Tbsps sambal olek
  • 1/2 Tbsp sugar (optional)
  • 8 button mushrooms, quartered
  • 1 tomato, cut into wedges or 10 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 lime, cut in wedges


Place the stock and water in a heavy bottomed pot. Heat until it starts to simmer. Add ginger/galangal, lemongrass, and lime leaves, cooking for about 5 minutes. Add fish sauce, sambal olek, and sugar. Cook for 2-3 minutes. Add chicken and mushrooms. Cook for 3 minutes. Add tomatoes. Cook until chicken is cooked through. Serve immediately with lime wedges.

And now for the details…

When I’m feeling under the weather, or feeling chilled and want something to stoke that internal fire to feel warmed up, this soup is immediately what I crave. It’s got the warm comfort of a chicken soup, with the spicy bite from the sambal olek and ginger, and a tart or sour note thanks to the lime juice, lemongrass and tomatoes.

I have a few ingredients in here that I have noted as optional, as they do add to the flavour of the soup, but are not critical. Especially the makrut lime leaves, which can often be a challenge to find in some western markets. While the additional of the lime leaves adds a certain floral note and emphasizes the citrus notes, it is not hypercritical if you have a hard time tracking them down.

Let’s get to cooking.

Before we go anywhere, get all the ingredients ready to go. Wash, slice, cut and mince everything and have it next to you at the stove, because the time between additions to the soup are relatively short, which is great because it means we get to eating that much faster!

A tip for the lemongrass: tap it up and down its length with the dull side of your knife. This will help to release some of the oils to make your soup that much more fragrant.

A tip for the chicken: if cutting it thinly is a challenge, try placing the piece of chicken breast in the freezer for 5-10 minutes. It will not freeze completely, but will chill up enough that it is easier to handle while you are cutting. Because we are cutting it so thin, this extra chill to the chicken will not result in any extended cook time.

We start everything off by adding the broth and water into a pot and setting them to medium-high heat on the stove. Heat until the liquid starts to simmer, then reduce to just above medium heat.

Next, add the lemongrass, ginger and lime leaves. Before adding the lime leaves, give them a light squish between your hands; this will help release the oils and allow them to impart more flavour.

Cover the pot and let this simmer for about 5 minutes. Add the fish sauce, sambal olek and sugar (if you are using the sugar). And allow everything to simmer for another 2-3 minutes.

Next, we add the chicken and mushrooms. Yes, I know that the dishwasher will likely sanitize the cutting board and I do not need to be so anal retentive about using multiple boards, but I am just too cautious when it comes to cross contamination.

Let the soup come back up to a simmer, and then cover and cook for about 3 minutes.

Our final addition are the tomatoes. Whether you use a large tomatoes and cut it into wedges, or simply slice up some baby tomatoes, it is really about preference and what you have on hand. Add the tomatoes and stir them in, then simmer everything for another 2-3 minutes, or until the chicken is fully cooked and the tomatoes have softened slightly.

Serve immediately with chopped cilantro and green onions and enjoy that heart-warming deliciousness!

Happy eating.

Chicken Vino Bianco (Olive Garden-ish)

Chicken Vino Bianco

  • Servings: 2-4
  • Difficulty: easy-medium
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  • 2 chicken breasts, butterflied and cut into medallions
  • 2 roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
  • 2 shallots, diced
  • 3 cups oyster mushrooms, diced
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 3 Tbsps olive oil
  • 2 Tbsps + 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 250 g pasta, cooked al dente


Season the chicken fillets with salt and pepper, and sprinkle with flour. Add 2 Tbsps of the olive oil and 1 Tbsp of the butter to a pan on medium-high heat until the butter is melted. Place the chicken breasts in the pan and cook until a golden brown and turn. Add another Tbsp of butter to the pan and cook the medallions until the inside temperature reaches 75ºC (165ºF). Remove from the pan, and set aside. Add the remaining olive oil to the pan, add the shallots and sauté, add the mushrooms and sauté until soft. Add the tomatoes, then add the chicken broth and white wine. Cook down until the liquid is reduced significantly. Add 1/4 cup of butter and melt, stirring into the sauce. Add the chicken back into the pan, turning to coat. Place the pasta in a large shallow dish, then top with sauce and chicken. Serve.

And now for the details…

I had a period of time in my early twenties when I was borderline obsessed with the Olive Garden. Raised eyebrows and cringes, I’m sure, from the foodies out there. But I have to admit, I still enjoy visiting, particularly for the lunch of endless soup, salad and breadsticks. Their Zuppa Toscana? Delicious. Yep. I’m losing creditability from the foodie hipsters as I type. I recognize your need to shudder and turn away, but am not changing my mind on this one. Sorry folks, I love food. All food. In my mind, food sources do not need to be subversive, exclusive, or cutting edge to be delicious.

A favourite dish, which unfortunately I have not seen on their menu for well over a decade, was Chicken Vino Bianco. Through some trial and error, I think I have come pretty close to recreating it, and now am sharing with all of you! Pair this with a salad with Olive Garden salad dressing from Costco, and we are bringing the restaurant home!

We start by butterflying the chicken breasts and then cutting them into medallions. This pink cutting board? It is specific for my meat prep! To avoid cross-contamination, I have this separate board that I use strictly for raw meats, fish, and poultry. Safety first people! Now, salt and pepper each side of the medallions, and then dust them with flour. Shake off any excess flour and we are ready to start sautéing!

Heat up some olive oil at medium-high heat and melt the two tablespoons of butter into the oil. Once the butter is completely melted and starts bubbling slightly, add the chicken in a single layer, and cook until browned on both sides and completely cooked through the middle.

Set the chicken aside, but keep the pan hot. Add the shallots and a bit more olive oil if there is little of the oil left in the pan after cooking the chicken. Sauté the shallot until fragrant, then add the mushrooms. Cook until the mushrooms have just begun to turn soft. Next, we add the wine and cook down until the wine has almost completed reduced, there should be little liquid left in the pan.

(Now is also a good time to boil your water for your pasta.)

This is just after adding the wine, lots of liquid to lose yet!

We add our tomatoes next, and allow them to cook down for just a short bit of time, releasing some of their liquid, and softening slightly. Cooking for too long will lose our nice bright colour from the tomatoes, and cause them to smoosh in with the other ingredients, getting lost in the mix.

(Have you added pasta to your water yet? Get that going so you have pasta and sauce at the same time!)

Our last step is to melt in the 1/4 cup of butter, which is going to bring the liquid element back in, creating a nice sauce, and then bring the chicken back into the pan. Spoon sauce over the chicken, getting everything nice and saucy. Do a quick taste test here to see if you need any additional salt or fresh ground pepper. Add more S&P to taste.

Place your pasta in a large dish, then top with the chicken and sauce. If you would like, you can garnish with some fresh parsley and parmesan cheese.

Happy eating.