Spare ribs tomseab soup recipe


Hot and sour, this spare ribs tomsaeb soup is popularly served in Isan Thai food restaurants throughout Thailand. Its taste is really yummy to try.

In Isan (northeastern) restaurants, besides laab; i.e. a minced meat salad, grilled chicken, somtum malakor; i.e. a papaya salad, etc. that are popularly ordered, diners never hesitate to ask for spare ribs tomseab soup to eat with sticky rice. Its recipe is quite similar to the tom yum soup, but requiring a few more ingredients, and its taste is spicier. Galangal, lemongrass stalks and makrut lime leaves are still included to remain the scent and flavour of tom yum soup.


  • 350 g spare ribs, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 3 cups water
  • ½ chicken stock cube
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 5 thinly sliced galangal
  • 2 lemongrass stalks, taken only the parts close to the root ends, cut into 4 2-inch lengths and then crushed
  • 4 citrus leaves (use makrut lime leaves if available), midribs removed and then torn into pieces
  • 3 thumb-size shallots, peeled and crushed
  • 2 tomatoes (about ping-pong-sized each), quartered
  • 1 ½ – 2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 tsp crushed red pepper
  • 1 ½ – 2 tbsp lime juice
  • 1 tbsp chopped crosswise culantro leaves
  • 5 dried chilies, roasted until fragrant
  • Chopped spring onion, to sprinkle


  1. In a saucepan, add the water, stock cube and salt and bring to a boil. Cook until the stock cube and salt are dissolved.
  2. Add the spare ribs and wait until returning to the boil again, occasionally skimming scums off to make the broth clear. Reduce the heat, then cover with a lid and simmer for 45 minutes, or until tender.
  3. Bring back to the boil again. Once ready, add the galangal, lemongrass stalks, citrus leaves, shallots and tomatoes. Then cook for 5 minutes, or until fragrant.
  4. Stir in the fish sauce and then turn off the heat.
  5. Stir in the crushed red pepper, lime juice and chopped culantro leaves (taste and adjust with a little more fish sauce or lime juice if necessary).
  6. To serve, ladle the soup into a serving bowl. Sprinkle with roasted dried chilies and chopped spring onion.

Tip: Instead of water plus stock cube, homemade stock is also great for this.


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