What occurred to me while simmering this Tom Kha Gai soup is how amazing it smells! Those kaffir lime leaves are like pot pourri for your house – such a fresh lime aroma!
If you like Tom Yum soup, then you’ve got to try this coconut chicken version. It’s such an easy recipe, and it only takes 20 minutes to make. You can’t help but feel replenished from the hot and sour broth. So rich, yet so light! You don’t have to make your own chicken stock, but if you do, it’s all the more delicious.
What is Tom Kha Gai Soup?
Tom kha gai or tom kha kai is a Thai coconut soup that accentuates galangal. It’s a spicy and sour soup with a rich component from canned coconut milk. Traditionally, this hot soup is made with kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass, cilantro, mushrooms, chicken, fish sauce, and lime juice.
What makes this a Traditional Thai Soup?
This Tom Kha Gai incorporates all of the traditional ingredients. Galangal is available in Asian grocery stores. The pale root is sold in packages frozen here in the US. If you can’t get the galangal, you may substitute ginger, which is far easier to find; unfortunately, ginger is very different in flavor so it won’t be 100% Tom Kha Gai since it is named after the root.
Curry Paste Variation
Another substitution would be to use Thai kitchen red curry paste (which contains lemongrass and galangal). To do this, stir in 4 Tablespoons.
Working with Lemongrass
Since many of you may not have lemongrass growing in your backyard, you can likely find it in the produce section. It’s easy to work with, and you can cut into it using a sharp chef’s knife after removing the tough outer layer.
More Thai Recipes You Might Like:
To serve this soup, I highly recommend garnishing with chili oil (my favorite) and anything fresh, such as cilantro or green onion.
Tom Kha Gai Soup (Thai Coconut Chicken Soup)
- 4 stalks lemongrass
- 4 cups chicken stock
- 1 1-inch piece fresh or frozen galangal thinly sliced
- 2 large shallots thinly sliced
- 10 black peppercorns
- 20 kaffir lime leaves
- 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut into large chunks
- 1/2 pound white mushrooms cut into 1/4-inch slices
- 2 14-oz cans coconut milk
- 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
- 3 tbsp fish sauce
- salt to taste
- 2 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
- 2 fresh Thai bird chiles thinly sliced
- 1 scallion thinly sliced
- Peel the outer layer away from the lemongrass. Cut to reserve the bottom 3-inches where the tender white stock is. Slice into small pieces and add to a medium pot.
- Bring the lemongrass, chicken stock, galangal, shallots, peppercorns, and kaffir leaves up to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes. Strain the soup into a clean pot.
- Return the soup to a simmer and swirl in the chicken, mushrooms, and coconut milk. Simmer just until the chicken is cooked, 5 minutes.
- Finish the soup with lime juice and fish sauce. Taste and add a sprinkle of salt if needed. Ladle into bowls and garnish with fresh cilantro leaves, chiles, and scallions.
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