Tom kha gai is one of the most famous Thai soups and it's incredibly popular for all the right reasons — it's a very fragrant and creamy soup that's easy to make and adapt. If you love spicy, exciting soups, this one's for you!
Whether you've had a delicious bowl of tom kha gai soup in a Thai restaurant and you want to replicate it at home, or you're simply looking for new soup recipes that are far from ordinary, this Thai coconut chicken soup recipe surely delivers.
This tom kha soup is creamy, comforting and as spicy as you want it to be - it's a real treat for the taste buds and one of the best Asian-inspired soups I've ever tasted.
The ingredients that make this Thai chicken soup extra fragrant are fresh lemongrass, ginger and Makrut lime leaves.
Why you'll love this tom kha gai soup recipe
- It's extra creamy and bursting with flavour.
- It tastes just like something you'd have at a Thai restaurant.
- It's dairy-free and can easily be made vegan.
What goes into Thai coconut chicken soup
Coconut oil - You can skip this if you want to make tom kha gai oil-free. Simply start by adding the chicken stock first, bring it to a boil, then add the shallots and continue with the rest of the recipe as written.
Lemongrass - A staple of Thai cuisine, lemongrass is a must in this soup. Cut the fresh lemongrass stalk into 1 or 2-inch pieces and smash it gently before adding it to the pot. You can fish it out at the end or leave it in (that's what I do!).
Galangal root (or ginger) - Technically speaking, tom kha gai should be made with galangal (that's what "kha" actually means).
Since galangal root is quite difficult to find in supermarkets, at least in the UK, fresh ginger is the next best choice.
Galangal root may be available at your local Asian shop or market - it's really worth a trip for an authentic tom kha gai soup.
Chicken stock - Homemade stock is best, but shop-bought also works. Use low-sodium stock as needed or substitute with vegetable broth if making the soup vegan.
Chicken - Slice the chicken breast quite thinly, so it cooks quickly in the broth. You can also use boneless chicken thighs, but they may need a couple more minutes to cook.
Mushrooms - Shiitake mushrooms are perfect in this soup, but you can use any other type of Asian mushrooms, such as oyster mushrooms.
That's because the boxed stuff is too watery and you need the creamy top that comes in a can for a velvety smooth broth.
Coconut cream - This is optional but I recommend it if you want the broth to be even creamier.
Fish sauce - Another staple of East Asian cuisine, fish sauce lends rich umami flavours to this soup.
Feel free to adjust the quantity to your liking but remember that this is often a very salty condiment.
Lime juice - A bit of lime juice adds acidity and brightness to the soup. I always have extra lime leaves for serving.
Brown sugar - You can substitute this with coconut sugar or skip it altogether.
How to make tom kha gai soup
Add the lemongrass, sliced galangal and lime leaves and continue to cook for another minute.
Add the stock and bring it to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 5 minutes, then add the chicken and mushrooms. Simmer for another 5 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.
Bring to a gentle simmer, then stir in the lime juice and brown sugar.
Season to taste and serve with extra lime juice and topped with sliced chillies and fresh cilantro (coriander) if you like.
Make it vegan
You'll also have to use soy sauce instead of fish sauce - a low-salt version would work just fine here.
Leftovers and storage
- Tom kha gai soup will keep well in the fridge for up to 3 days in an airtight container.
- Reheat it on the stovetop or in the microwave.
- Even though this is a creamy soup, it freezes beautifully because there's no dairy in it. You can freeze this spicy Thai soup for up to 2 months. Thaw it in the fridge overnight before serving.
Recipe notes and tips
- Top up the soup with fresh lime wedges, sliced green onion and fresh cilantro right before serving.
- If you want some extra heat, add some red chili flakes or fresh Thai red chili before serving.
- You can also make this spicy Thai soup with prawns instead of chicken.
If you liked this tom kha gai soup recipe, you might also like some of my other easy soup recipes:
- Creamy Vegetarian Tortellini Soup
- Finnish Salmon Soup (Lohikeitto)
- Polish Sauerkraut Soup (Kapusniak)
- Creamy White Lasagna Soup
- Spring Minestrone Soup
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil
- 1 medium shallot, finely diced
- 1 lemongrass stalk, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1-inch knob fresh galangal root (or ginger), peeled and sliced
- 2-3 Makrut lime leaves
- 1 litre chicken stock
- 300 g (¾ lb) chicken breast, sliced
- 200 g (½ lb) shiitake mushrooms, sliced
- 1 x 400 g (13.5 fl.oz) can full-fat coconut milk
- 4 tablespoons coconut cream
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon fish sauce
- 1 tablespoon red chilli paste
- 2 tablespoons lime juice
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar (or coconut sugar)
- Heat the coconut oil in a large stock pot or Dutch oven and sauté the shallot for 1-2 minutes over medium heat until slightly softened.
- Add the lemongrass, sliced galangal and lime leaves and continue to cook for another minute.
- Add the stock and bring it to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 5 minutes, then add the chicken and mushrooms. Simmer for another 5 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.
- Stir in the coconut milk, coconut cream, salt, fish sauce and red chilli paste. Bring to a gentle simmer, then stir in the lime juice and brown sugar.
- Season to taste and serve with extra lime juice and topped with sliced chillies and fresh coriander if you like.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 572Total Fat: 34gSaturated Fat: 26gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 72mgSodium: 779mgCarbohydrates: 36gFiber: 2gSugar: 19gProtein: 34g
Nutritional information is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator.