I really love spicy Tom Yum soup. Tom Kha is okay, but the coconut milk cuts the spicy and tang and those are the two things that make me live (along with aspartame and low-cut dresses). When we live in the Big City, I had a favourite Thai place I’d order from at least once a week, if not more. Yes, I would like two family-sized portions of soup, please. No, I only need one spoon – actually, just give me a straw.
Since moving out to the middle of nowhere, the options for good Thai food are severely limited. The most popular place around us puts bean sprouts in their Tom Yum, because apparently they were raised in a barn. I also really hate bean sprouts (and sriracha sauce) because of trauma, so there’s that whole .. thing. Basically, I’m not a fan of the local favourite – soup aside, the rest of their offerings are just not good. I can make better stuff at home with some paste and a handful of mushrooms.
Thanks to the pandemic, we’ve been abusing food delivery options like no other and I did manage to find a decent, “local” option for good soup. The catch: delivery from this place costs $6.49 each time, + Skip fees, + the “you’re in BC” fee, plus tip, plus taxes – a bowl of soup for me and some Pad Thai for Ed can easily come out to a $50+ order. I’m a rich bitch, but I’m also a cheap bitch and I just don’t want to pay $50+ for what I used to be able to get for $25 in Vancouver (and it was better – I miss Thailicious so much dammit). And yet, I crave. What’s a girl to do?
Find and try every single “instant” Tom Yum option there is, of course.
I’ve spent the last few weeks ingesting an inhuman amount of soup. I’ve tried kits and mixes and pastes and cartons and packets. I’ll find something with a decent broth but awful ingredients, or instant noodles that look promising yet taste like boiled asses in a paper cup. I’ve mixed store-bought with homemade to try and find the perfect balance of so-spicy-my-tits-fall-off and so-tangy-my-cheeks-go-numb that is so enticing yet so elusive. I get so close, but not close enough. Frustrating. I have soup blue balls and I need to release my seed.
During one of my drug-fueled fits of pantry organization, I found a box of instant Tom Yum packets that I bought years ago and promptly forgot about. The best before date passed sometime in 2018, but yolo so I boiled up some water and made a mug of soup. As usual, it wasn’t right – not even close actually, as Tom Yum broth isn’t supposed to look or taste like chicken noodle soup. Still, it had a promising aftertaste and I’ve gotten quite good at adding things to not-quite-right broth to make it .. still not right, but closer. I added more boiling water and a heaping spoonful of Tom Yum paste, some galangal powder, lime leaves, and a liberal amount of True Lime crystals and ..
It was great.
Spicy, tangy, warm, full of flavour, deliciousness.
The box had 5 packets of instant mix in it, and they did not last long. I went online to look for more, but because this is me and nothing whatsoever in my life can be simple and full of joy, I discovered the packets have been discontinued for some time now. There were a few places online that had it in stock, but they were all in Europe and didn’t ship to Canada, the US, OR to the UK so I couldn’t even order a case and redirect it to Friend Jen. I used every ounce of my Google-fu and kept coming up soupless, until I thought to try an internal tool at work — and found a gourmet ingredient store in Ottawa that still had the boxes in stock.
Reader, I bought them all.
I used the last packet I had yesterday, and upped my game by preparing it on the stove in a significant quantity then added an entire forest worth of mushrooms. It was wonderful, and I enjoyed my lunch very much, until I didn’t – I had hit the soup wall with a very loud splash. Tom Yum soup is actually pretty healthy, but having too much of anything is a bad idea and for the rest of the day I suffered greatly with soup belly, unable to eat anything else. I have no regrets, though, and as soon as my 30 packets of soup arrive, I’ll do it all over again with a smile. I really like this soup, y’all.
Even if my tummy hurts.