Recipe: Traditional Tom Kha Gai (Thai Coconut Soup)

Food Lovers, Travel Style — By Rachel Greenberg on January 30, 2012 at 4:32 pm

The incredible mix of sweet, tangy, and sour make Tom Kha Gai one seriously addicting soup. Along with the distinctive Thai flavor, tender chicken and creamy broth provide this perfect-for-cold-weather dish a hearty texture.

Aside from a few specific items, most of the ingredients can be found at any well stocked grocery store. If you’re lucky enough to have an Asian market in your city, stop by first to pick everything up at once. And although the recipe list looks long, once everything is chopped up the cooking process is super fast and easy – and all in one pot. Enjoy!

Image: sabel/Flickr

This recipe is adapted from author canida. Check out the original post for step-by-step photos of the soup-making process.


for the broth:

  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 2-3 cups chicken broth
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 2 stalks fresh lemongrass, washed thoroughly and cut into chunks
  • 3 red shallots, peeled and sliced
  • 1 tsp whole coriander seeds
  • 1 cup cilantro leaves, washed and de-stemmed
  • 5-10 Thai chili peppers (or whatever you have on hand, adjust for your desired spice-level)
  • 1.5 inch chunk of galangal root, cut into pieces (can be found at Asian markets)
  • 3 kaffir lime leaves, cut into strips
  • 1 tsp chili garlic sauce

goes into the broth:

  • 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken cut into cubes (can be breast, thigh, or both)
  • 1 cup chopped mushrooms (any kind works)
  • 1-3 tbs fish sauce (smells funky, but it’s important!)
  • 1 can baby corn, drained and chopped
  • 1/2 cup cubed plum tomatoes or halved cherry tomatoes

top it off:

  • 1 lime cut into wedges
  • 1 cup cilantro leaves, washed and de-stemmed


Combine all ‘for the broth’  ingredients into a large pot, bring to boil, and simmer for 15-20 minutes covered. Strain broth through a sieve or strainer to remove all the large pieces of lemongrass, galanga root, and lime leaves. If you love lemongrass, feel free to leave a few stalks in. (Make sure to use a flexible spatula to press all the good juices out of the large chunks before discarding.) Add the ‘goes into the broth’ ingredients to the strained broth. Simmer until the chicken is cooked through.

Serve hot with ‘top it off’ ingredients to taste.


Tags: recipe, soup, thai, thai food, tom kha

    1 Comment

  • Anna Marie Bickford says:

    Yum! I can’t wait to try making this, I have always wanted to try and but other recipes I have found online were too complicated. I always order Tom Kah when I eat at a Thai restaurant, but I substitute the chicken for tofu, which I will also do when using this recipe. Thank you!


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