Tom Kha Gai Soup is absolutely packed with flavorful Thai ingredients. With chicken, lemongrass, galangal, chilis, and coconut milk in the mix, it’s a mouthwatering mix of sour, savory, salty, and silky texture. Serve with rice or as many vegetables as you’d like!
Asian cuisine has an abundance of spice and flavor, and Thai cuisine certainly tops all the rest!
Tom kha gai soup is one of the most popular menu items in Southeast Asia – and all around the world! It’s a creamy chicken coconut soup with a variety of aromatic herbs, savory mushrooms and sauces, and spicy chilis.
Thai coconut soup is actually quite simple to prepare. It takes just about 30 minutes of simmering, seasoning, and stirring. It’s also incredibly customizable! Almost any vegetable or protein can be added to this Thai coconut soup and be absolutely delicious.
I personally love eating tom kha soup with rice or flat noodles. I highly recommend it!
INGREDIENT NOTES AND SUBSTITUTIONS
- Chicken Breast & Stock - While tom kha gai soup is usually made with chicken, you can use any protein you prefer. You can also adjust the stock used to suit the protein of your choice.
- Kaffir Lime Leaves & Lemongrass Stalk - Very citrusy and aromatic, adding a beautiful and mouthwatering scent and flavor. You could replace the lemongrass stalk with paste if necessary.
- Galangal - Also known as “Thai ginger.” Regular ginger could be substituted instead.
- Cilantro - This herb is best roughly chopped, giving bright bursts of its fresh flavor in larger pieces.
- Fish Sauce - This very strong, salty, and tangy sauce can be replaced with soy sauce for a less aggressive flavor.
- Coconut Milk - I recommend using full fat coconut milk for the best flavor and texture.
- Oyster Mushrooms - Shiitake, enoki, and portabello mushrooms are appropriate alternatives.
- Roma Tomato - You could also use several cherry or grape tomatoes, whole or halved, instead.
- Lime Juice & Lime Quarters - You’ll need a couple of limes to both juice and quarter to serve in the soup.
- Chili Oil - It’s actually very easy to make crispy Chinese chili oil in your own kitchen.
- Thai Birds Eye Chilis - A very hot, popular chili in Southeast Asia. Some substitutes with similar heat are jalapeños and habaneros.
HOW TO MAKE TOM KHA GAI SOUP
- Cut the Herbs & Veggies. Slice the lemongrass stalk into ½” pieces. Remove the stems from the oyster mushrooms and cilantro, then roughly chop both.
- Boil & Simmer the Base. Add the stock, lime leaves, lemongrass, and galangal with half of the green onions and cilantro leaves and stems to your pot. Bring to a boil on medium-high heat and cook for 5 minutes.
- Continue Making the Base. Add the fish sauce, sugar, and coconut milk. Stir to combine and boil for another 5 minutes.
- Discard Solids & Add Chicken. With a slotted spoon, remove all solid herbs and ingredients from the soup. Add the chicken and cook for 5 more minutes.
- Add Final Seasonings. Drop in the rest of the cilantro leaves and stems, green onions, mushrooms, lime juice, tomatoes, chili oil, and Thai chilis. Cook for a final 5 minutes uncovered.
- Serve & Enjoy! Serve the soup right away for the best possible flavor. Fluffy white rice, fresh bread, or steamed veggies make fantastic sides!
What is the difference between tom yum and tom kha gai?
Tom yum and tom kha are actually quite similar, but they have a key difference that sets them pretty far apart in taste and texture.
Both tom yum and tom kha gai soup have a hot and sour soup base, each usually containing a variety of vegetables, herbs, and some kind of protein.
Tom kha soup has an additional ingredient, however: coconut milk. This gives a bit of a thicker, creamier texture.
How long does chicken coconut soup keep in the fridge?
Stored properly in an airtight container, tom kha soup will keep for up to 4 days. Reheat just what you plan on eating, as it should not be reheated and chilled multiple times.
I would not recommend freezing this soup. The coconut milk, though not dairy, loses its normal creamy texture when frozen and thawed.
Is tom kha gai soup vegan?
It isn’t, but you can easily make it so. Here are the substitutions I recommend making for a vegan-friendly Thai coconut soup:
- Replace the chicken stock with vegetable or mushroom stock.
- Replace the chicken breast with additional vegetables or a meat alternative.
- Replace the fish sauce with dark soy sauce.
Tom Kha Gai Soup
- 8 ounces chicken breast sliced bite size
- 4 cups chicken stock
- 6 kaffir lime leaves break each in half
- 2 lemongrass stalk (or 2 tablespoon paste)
- 1 3-inch galangal root (cut into 6 oval slices)
- 4 green onions chopped (divided)
- ½ cup cilantro rough chopped
- ⅓ cup fish sauce
- ¼ cup sugar
- 15 ounces coconut milk (full fat)
- 4 ounces oyster mushrooms
- 1 roma tomato diced
- 2 limes juiced (¼ cup total)
- 2 tablespoons chili oil (or chili crisp)
- 4 Thai Birds Eye chilis smashed
- cilantro leaves rough chopped
- limes quartered
- Slice ½-inch pieces of lemongrass. Cut the stems from the cilantro and rough chop the leaves. Cut the stems from the root base of the oyster mushrooms. Discard base and break apart mushrooms.
- In a Dutch oven or soup pot over medium high heat, bring chicken stock, kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass, galangal, half the green onions and half the cilantro leaves and stems to a boil and cook for 5 minutes.
- Next, stir in the fish sauce, sugar and coconut milk. Cook for 5 minutes.
- Carefully using a spider or slotted spoon, remove and discard all solids. Add the chicken and cook another 5 minutes, uncovered.
- Finally, add the remaining cilantro leaves, green onions, mushrooms, tomato, lime juice, chili oil and Birds Eye chilis. Cook another 5 minutes, uncovered, and serve immediately.
*The information shown below is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist's advice.