Delicious Vietnamese Fish Soup Recipe

Welcome to my Vietnamese Fish and Tomato Soup recipe! This dish goes by many names, including Canh Chua, Chua Ca, and Vietnamese sour soup. Whatever you call it, this sweet and sour soup is a staple in Vietnamese cuisine and a perfect dish for any season. It features fresh ingredients like juicy tomatoes, tangy tamarind broth, aromatic herbs, red chilies, and succulent fish.

Not only is this soup delicious, but it’s also packed with nutrients that are essential for a healthy lifestyle. The combination of fresh vegetables and lean protein makes it a perfect meal option for those who are health-conscious. Plus, it’s easily customizable based on your dietary preferences – whether you’re vegan or pescatarian.

As an Asian cuisine chef, I can attest to the rich history behind this soup’s flavors. Its unique blend of sweet and tangy ingredients has been perfected over generations by Vietnamese cooks. With that said, let’s jump into the recipe and discover why it’s one of Vietnam’s most popular dishes.

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

Vietnamese Fish and Tomato Soup
Vietnamese Fish and Tomato Soup

If you are looking for a delicious and healthy soup recipe that is packed with flavor, look no further than my Vietnamese Fish and Tomato Soup Recipe. This soup is perfect for anyone who loves sweet and sour flavors with a bit of heat. One of the reasons that you are going to love this recipe is because it is incredibly easy to make. With just a few simple steps, you can have a flavorful and satisfying meal that your whole family will enjoy.

One of the standout ingredients in this recipe is fish sauce, which brings a salty depth of flavor to the dish. It’s balanced perfectly by the sweetness of palm sugar and the tartness of lime juice. The combination of fresh tomatoes, garlic, and red chilies give this soup a depth of complexity that rivals any restaurant dish. Additionally, it’s packed with protein in the form of sea bass or catfish making it perfect as a light main meal or as part of a larger multi-course feast.

But what really sets this soup apart is the fresh herbs like coriander and mint. These bright, aromatic ingredients add layers to the dish that will have your taste buds singing. And if you are looking for something refreshing to help cut through the richness of the soup, topping it off with some bean sprouts will do just the trick.

So whether you are looking for something comforting on a chilly day or simply want to try out some new flavors from Vietnamese cuisine, this soup needs to be on your list. It’s a delicious and healthy way to get your fill of seafood and vegetables without sacrificing flavor. Don’t take my word for it though; try it out for yourself today!

Ingredient List

 The aromatic herbs and spices make this soup visually appealing!
The aromatic herbs and spices make this soup visually appealing!

Ingredients for Vietnamese Fish and Tomato Soup Recipe

Here are the ingredients you will need to make this delicious Vietnamese Fish and Tomato Soup Recipe. You can find most of these at your local grocery store or an Asian market.

  • Fish – 1 1/2 lbs of firm white fish fillets such as sea bass or catfish
  • Tomatoes – 3 medium-sized ripe tomatoes
  • Garlic cloves – 3 finely chopped garlic cloves
  • Red chilies – 2 small red chilies to add spice (optional)
  • Bean sprouts – a handful of bean sprouts for garnish
  • Fresh coriander – a handful of fresh coriander leaves for garnish
  • Mint leaves – a handful of mint leaves for garnish
  • Lime juice – juice of one lime
  • Palm sugar – 1 tablespoon of palm sugar
  • Fish sauce – 4 tablespoons of fish sauce

Optional Ingredients:

  • Pineapple – 1 cup of chopped fresh pineapple, canned pineapple can also be used

For the Tamarind Broth:

  • Vietnamese Coriander (Rau Ram) – a few sprigs (optional)
  • Dill Sprigs – a few sprigs (optional)
  • Chinese Celery Stalks – 2 stalks (optional)
  • Tamarind Pulp – 1/2 cup of tamarind pulp mixed with 2 cups of water, strained to remove any solids
  • Pickled Mustard Greens(Optional)

Note: Make sure you wash all the herbs and vegetables thoroughly before preparing them.

The Recipe How-To

 The chunks of juicy tomatoes and tender fish bring an explosion of color to your dish!
The chunks of juicy tomatoes and tender fish bring an explosion of color to your dish!

Now that we have talked about the ingredients needed, let’s jump into the recipe itself. This Vietnamese Fish and Tomato Soup is commonly known as Canh Chua Ca in Vietnam, and it’s a dish packed with flavor that you will not want to miss. It is made with tamarind juice, creating a sour broth that balances perfectly with the sweetness of the pineapple and palm sugar.

Step 1: Prepare the Ingredients

  • First, start by rinsing and cleaning your herbs, such as fresh coriander and mint, then finely chop it.
  • Next, clean the red chilies, slice them in half and remove the seeds. You can add more or less of this ingredient depending on your spice tolerance.
  • Peel and chop garlic cloves into small pieces.
  • Finally, get all of the vegetables ready by chopping 3 large ripe tomatoes.

Step 2: Cook the Broth

  • Start by heating up 2 tablespoons of oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add garlic cloves, stir until fragrant for around 1 minute.
  • Then, add in sliced red chilies, stirring for about 30 seconds before adding chopped tomatoes. Cook for around 3 minutes until tomatoes break down.
  • Pour in 1 liter of water, 2 tablespoons of fish sauce, and 2 tablespoons of palm sugar into the pot.
  • After that, add in 2 tablespoons of tamarind paste or juice and stir well.
  • Bring everything to a boil, reduce to low heat, and let it simmer for another 5 minutes.

Step 3: Add Vegetables and Fish

  • Place your cleaned fish fillet (catfish or sea bass works well) in the pot once the broth has boiled.
  • Add chopped tomato wedges and pineapple chunks to the pot.
  • Let everything simmer for another 8-10 minutes till the fish is cooked through.
  • Lastly, add in finely chopped herbs such as Vietnamese coriander (rau ram) and mint.

Step 4: Serve and Enjoy

  • Remove the pot from heat and let it sit for a few minutes before serving.
  • Dish the soup into bowls and top with fresh herbs, a pinch of red chili slices, a splash of lime juice, and some bean sprouts
  • You can also serve this Vietnamese Fish and Tomato Soup with rice or noodles on the side.

Enjoy this delightful blend of sweet, sour, spicy, and savory flavors that are sure to transport you to Vietnam.

Substitutions and Variations

 This hearty soup is perfect for a cozy dinner at home.
This hearty soup is perfect for a cozy dinner at home.

One of the beauties of cooking is that there’s always room for creativity and experimentation. In Vietnamese cuisine, there are countless variations of a single dish depending on the region, season, or preferences. Here are some common substitutions and variations for the Vietnamese fish and tomato soup recipe:

1. Fish: The type of fish you use can greatly affect the flavor and texture of the soup. The best Vietnamese fish soup recipes usually call for white-fleshed fish with firm meat, such as sea bass, catfish, or snakehead fish. However, you can also use salmon or other oily fish if that’s what you have on hand. Just note that the soup may turn out a bit richer and heavier.

2. Sourness: Canh chua (sour soup) is known for its sweet and sour flavor profile, which usually comes from tamarind pulp or vinegar. If you don’t have tamarind pulp or prefer a milder sourness, you can substitute lime juice or sliced sour fruits like green mangoes or pineapples instead.

3. Spiciness: Red chilies are often used in Vietnamese cuisine to add heat and complexity to the dishes. However, if you’re not a fan of spicy food, you can omit or reduce the amount of chilies in this recipe. Alternatively, you can use milder chili peppers like Anaheim or poblano peppers or add black pepper instead.

4. Vegetables: While bean sprouts and tomatoes are classic ingredients in canh chua cá, you can add other vegetables to your liking such as okra, bok choy, squash, eggplants, or mushrooms. Just make sure to adjust the cooking time accordingly as some veggies cook faster than others.

5. Herbs: Fresh herbs like coriander (cilantro) and mint are essential in Vietnamese cooking to balance out the richness and add fragrance. However, if you’re not a fan of these herbs or if they’re hard to find, you can substitute with Thai basil, dill weed, or parsley.

6. Noodles: If you want to turn this soup into a noodle soup (bun ca), you can add rice vermicelli noodles or egg noodles to the bowl before pouring in the hot soup. You can also use udon or soba noodles for a Japanese twist.

7. Fried fish: In some variations of canh chua, the fish is first marinated and fried before being added to the soup. This

Serving and Pairing

 Your loved ones will be impressed when they taste this exotic Vietnamese soup.
Your loved ones will be impressed when they taste this exotic Vietnamese soup.

Ah, the moment we’ve all been waiting for – it’s time to serve up this delicious Vietnamese Fish and Tomato Soup! But before we dig in, let’s talk about some of the best ways to pair and enjoy this dish.

One great option is to serve the soup over a bed of rice noodles or egg noodles. The soft, chewy texture of the noodles pairs perfectly with the sweet and sour flavors of the soup. I like to add a few sliced red chilies or a sprinkle of chili flakes on top for an extra kick.

If you’re looking for a heartier meal, you can also serve this soup with some steamed rice on the side. The cool, refreshing crunch of bean sprouts and thinly sliced fresh vegetables like carrot and cucumber adds contrast to the warm, savory broth.

For a more traditional Vietnamese experience, serve this fish soup with a side of fish sauce and freshly squeezed lime juice. You can also garnish with some chopped fresh coriander and mint leaves for an added burst of flavor.

Finally, if you want to switch things up a bit, try pairing this sweet and sour soup with some Vietnamese fried fish or grilled sea bass. The rich, tender fish pairs beautifully with the tangy tomato sauce and sweet pineapples in the soup. And of course, don’t forget to sip on some hot tea or cold beer while enjoying this delectable Vietnamese classic.

With these pairing options in mind, there’s no doubt that your Vietnamese Fish and Tomato Soup will be a hit at any dinner party or gathering. So why not invite some friends over and indulge in this flavorful masterpiece together?

Make-Ahead, Storing and Reheating

 This is a soup that can be enjoyed for any occasion - be it a family gathering or a warm, comforting meal on a cold winter day.
This is a soup that can be enjoyed for any occasion – be it a family gathering or a warm, comforting meal on a cold winter day.

Vietnamese fish and tomato soup is a great dish to make ahead of time for those busy days. The flavors of the soup will even improve as it sits in the refrigerator for a day or two.

To make this soup ahead of time, let it cool down completely before storing it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. When reheating it, simply warm it up on the stove over medium heat until heated through.

If you have leftover bean sprouts, fresh coriander, mint, or lime juice, store them separately from the soup in a plastic bag or container in the refrigerator. This will keep them fresh and crispy for future use.

This soup can also be frozen for up to 2 months. Let it cool down completely before ladling it into freezer-safe containers or ziplock bags. Label and date them before placing them in the freezer.

When you’re ready to enjoy the frozen soup, thaw it overnight in the refrigerator before heating it up on the stove.

Keep in mind that fish can be delicate when reheated, so make sure not to overheat and dry out the fish. It’s best to reheat just until heated through.

Making ahead and storing this Vietnamese fish and tomato soup is a great way to have a healthy and flavorful meal on hand for busy nights or when unexpected guests drop by.

Tips for Perfect Results

 The hearty chunks of fish blend perfectly with the sweet and sour broth
The hearty chunks of fish blend perfectly with the sweet and sour broth

Even though this soup recipe is relatively simple, with just a few ingredients, there are a few tips that will ensure the perfect result. Here are my tips for making the best Vietnamese fish and tomato soup:

1. Use fresh ingredients

Using fresh ingredients not only enhances the flavor but also elevates your dish to another level. Avoid using canned tomatoes and frozen fish for this dish as they might compromise the final result.

2. Adjust the sourness to your taste

Canh chua is a sweet and sour soup, but this sourness can be adjusted according to personal preference. Add more tamarind or lime juice for a tangier taste, or reduce the amount for a sweeter flavor.

3. Pick the right fish

Choosing the right type of fish is essential in making this soup. Sea bass is an excellent choice because it has mild flesh that goes well with sour broth, but catfish or snapper can also work.

4. Don’t overcook the fish

Overcooking the fish will make it mushy and compromise its texture and taste. Instead, cook the fish until it’s just done, approximately 5-7 minutes.

5. Balance the sweetness and sourness

Balancing the sweetness and sourness is crucial for this dish’s success. Adding too much sugar can make it sickly sweet while too much sourness can make it too tangy. Always keep a balance between both flavors.

6. Use Vietnamese coriander

Vietnamese coriander is not like any other coriander you might have tasted before, And lends a unique flavor profile to this soup.Though regular cilantro can be used as a substitute in its absence – You’ll essentially limit yourself without experience Vietnamse coriander in its authenticity

7. Garnish with Bean Sprouts,Fresh Herbs And Condiments.

Garnishing,this delicious bowl of goodness with bean sprouts,fresh herbs and condiments brings the elements of this dish into the equation . Bean sprouts, mint & coriander leaves, sliced chilies in lime Juice and fish sauce, condiments like tofu cubes or stir-fried shrimps, adds depth of flavor,textural contrast and makes it more appealing.

By following these tips, you will guarantee a delicious pot of Vietnamese fish and tomato soup, perfect to enjoy with family or friends.


As with any recipe, there may be questions or concerns that arise. To help ensure your success in making this delicious Vietnamese Fish and Tomato Soup Recipe, I have compiled a list of frequently asked questions and their corresponding answers. So, before you get started with the recipe, take a moment to review these tips and tricks.

What is most popular Vietnam herb they put on seafood soup?

Vietnamese coriander, also known as “Vietnamese mint” or “hot mint”, is a popular herb in Vietnam that is often paired with sea snails and shellfish. It has sleek, pointy leaves with a smooth texture and a unique flavor profile that combines citrus, mint, and spice.

What is canh chua in english?

Originating from the southern region of Vietnam’s Mekong Delta, Canh chua, commonly referred to as Vietnamese sweet and sour soup, is a flavorsome soup consisting of a tamarind-based broth blended with delta fish, such as the catfish, as well as additional ingredients such as pineapple, tomatoes, elephant ear stalks, and bean sprouts.

How to make tamata soup?

When it comes to choosing tomatoes for this dish, aim for ripe, red ones that are not overly tart. To prepare them, heat up a tablespoon of oil or butter in a frying pan over high heat. Once it’s hot, carefully add the tomatoes and cook them for about 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally, until they start to become slightly charred. Now, add a dash of salt and continue to cook until the tomatoes become slightly tender. Once done, remove the mixture from the heat and allow it to cool down to room temperature.

What do you call the soup that has shell fish as its main ingredient?

Creamy soups known as bisques are typically made using shellfish, although they can also be created using different types of seafood or pureed vegetables and fruits.

What is a fish soup called?

There are many famous dishes, such as cioppino, bourride, brodetto, cacciucco, zarzuela, and gumbo, that are all based on the same principle: combining various types of seafood and fish with vegetables and aromatics to create a rich, hearty stew.

Bottom Line

I hope this Vietnamese Fish and Tomato Soup Recipe has sparked your interest in trying new cuisines and techniques. As a chef specializing in Vietnamese and Asian cuisine, I can assure you that this recipe is worth trying. Its sweet and sour taste with a kick of spice from the red chilies will surely awaken your senses and satisfy your taste buds.

Don’t be afraid to try new ingredients like tamarind broth or Vietnamese coriander. The unique flavors will transport you to the streets of Vietnam, where locals indulge in delicious soups like this one.

Remember, cooking is an art form, and recipes like this one provide an opportunity for creativity and experimentation. You can always substitute ingredients or variations to personalize it to your liking.

So, whether you’re looking for a warm bowl of soup on a chilly night or simply want to try something new, give this Vietnamese Fish and Tomato Soup Recipe a try. I guarantee it won’t disappoint!

Vietnamese Fish and Tomato Soup

Vietnamese Fish and Tomato Soup Recipe

From the Yahoo site. I'm saving it to make when we start to catch plenty of fish around June.
No ratings yet
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 12 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Vietnamese
Calories 196.2 kcal


  • 4 cups fish or 4 cups vegetable stock
  • 1/2 cup fish sauce
  • 2 tablespoons grated palm sugar
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 600 g firm white fish fillets, cut into 2cm pieces
  • 2 tomatoes, skinned and cut into thin wedges
  • 2 small red chilies, deseeded and finely sliced (or to taste)
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • mint (Vietnamese for preference)
  • fresh coriander
  • bean sprouts


  • Combine fish stock, fish sauce, palm sugar, garlic and 2 cups water in a large saucepan. Heat and simmer for 5 minute.
  • Add fish and cook for 3-5 min, until the fish is just cooked through.
  • Stir in tomato, chillies and lime juice. Cook for 1-2 min, or until tomato is soft. Season to taste and garnish with Vietnamese mint, coriander and bean shoots.

Add Your Own Notes


Serving: 285gCalories: 196.2kcalCarbohydrates: 13.1gProtein: 30.4gFat: 2.2gSaturated Fat: 0.4gCholesterol: 100.5mgSodium: 2939.9mgFiber: 1.1gSugar: 10.6g
Keyword < 30 Mins, Asian, Australian, Easy, From Scratch, One-Dish Meal, Spicy, Weeknight
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