Simple, Spicy, Fish Soup

My son is sticking to his radical toddler diet—soup and cheese… and sometimes, for a change, cheesy soup. I’ve been relenting in the meals I prepare for him because he has been sick with a raging fever this past week (hence no posts for a too busy working stiff with a cranky babe).

On one hand, I look at all the soup and think how frustrating it is to cook and how dull it probably is for him to eat. On the other hand, I realize I now have a plethora of recipes to feed my parents once they get infirm and lose all of their teeth. So, there’s the win. (It’s been a pretty rough week, so yes, that’s my win.)

As I’ve mentioned before, Mr. Moo is particularly fond of spicy food. And, I took a peek in the old freezer and realized I had quite a few random fish and seafood items hanging around. So, I decided to make a Thai-inspired fish soup. I say Thai-inspired, because it’s not really authentically Thai. But, it evoked the flavors. I kind of made it up as I went along using various ingredients from my fridge. Since I’m not Thai, I call it inspired.

Thai Fish Soup

  • 1 T oil
  • ½ onion, chopped
  • 1½ t ginger, grated (or you can use ginger paste)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Zest of one lime
  • 1 lemongrass stalk, crushed and chopped
  • 5 C fish or chicken stock
  • 1-2 T Tom Yum paste
  • ½ lb white fish, cut into chunks
  • Dozen or so cleaned shrimp, shells and tails reserved
  • Half dozen or so sea scallops, trimmed and cut into quarters if large
  • Juice of that zested lime
  • 2 t fish sauce

In a medium pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add onions and sauté until soft—about 5 minutes. Add the ginger and garlic and stir. Then, add the lime zest, lemongrass, and shrimp tails and shells. Sauté until shrimp tails become pink. This should take a few minutes.

Next, add the stock and scrape up any crusty bits from the bottom of the pan. It should look like this with a bunch of floaty bits in it.

Fish Soup Pre-Tom-Yum

I thought it was a bit anemic looking, so this is when I added the Tom Yum paste. You can pick up the paste in the Asian section of most larger grocery stores. (Yes, I actually have lemongrass stalks and Tom Yum paste hanging around my fridge. They have become a staple for me.) Now, your soup should have a nice reddish tint to it.

Fish soup Post-Tom Yum Paste

Bring this mess up to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover, and simmer for about 15 minutes.

Strain the soup. You can either skim all of the bits out of the soup (my recommended way of doing it so as to avoid splashing hot liquid on yourself and your loved ones) OR you can pour the soup through a sieve into another pot. Pouring through a sieve will give you a clearer broth, but for my money, it’s just not worth it.

Put the broth back on the stove and add the fish and seafood items in the order in which they appear in the recipe list (scallops take less time to cook and you don’t want them to get overly chewy).

Right before serving squeeze in the lime and mix in the fish sauce.


The soup was gone before I could take a picture. You can make it more or less spicy by adjusting the Tom Yum paste. Make it more or less chunky with different fish items. You can also add mushrooms or other vegetables. I suppose you could add noodles as well, but it’s supposed to be a simple bit of soup. So, keep it simple.


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