Comfort food! This rich and flavorful Thai soup is my absolute favorite to make. I’ve served it to countless guests and everyone always wants seconds. I don’t need a recipe anymore because I have made it so many times. I don’t want boring old chicken noodle soup, I want Tom Kha Gai! Freeze it in portion sized zip-lock baggies, and when you need a quick meal you have instant yummy comfort whenever you want. I will swear by this recipe, that you won’t find at any Thai restaurant you go to. I love Thai food so much, but since I figured out how to make this I have become kind of a bit of a snob about it. Ok I’m a snob about it.
I try to keep ingredients on hand for my cravings: lemongrass (which is a key element in many Thai dishes), Thai curry paste (you can usually find the Thai Kitchen brand at most grocery stores, however it is more expensive than if you buy the cans), coconut milk, fish sauce, kefir lime leaves, galangal, and chicken stock.
I like to get Japanese sweet potatoes for this recipe, which are called Satsumaimo. You can usually find them at any Asian grocer. They are purple on the outside, white on the inside, kinda sweet, and just delish! Sometimes (okay most of the time) I eat this without the rice noodles because the sweet potatoes give it enough starch. The broth is so fragrant that I don’t want to lose it in a bunch of rice. But you can serve it any way you desire.
If you plan to serve over rice noodles, I highly recommend the Three Ladies Brand. You can use any rice noodle you fancy. I like to make these when the soup is just about done. Cook them a bit al dente, since you will be putting them in the hot broth.
I buy fresh lemongrass from my favorite Asian grocery store and chop it up in 4 or 5″ pieces, toss it in a ziplock bag and freeze. This way I always have fresh lemongrass on hand, since the store isn’t nearby. Lemongrass is a tricky one to find sometimes. So buy a ton if you can and freeze it.
Sweet potatoes, onions, ginger, garlic, galangal, keffir lime leaves, and lemongrass start the fragrant broth off. The aromatics are absolutely divine. At this point you can also add some chopped carrots, but I skipped adding them for this particular version. I swear it turns out different each time! I love that about cooking…read my “Moi” page for more on the serendipity of cooking.
Tom Kha Gai - Coconut Chicken Soup
- February 21, 2021
- 45 min
- Print this
- 5 C chicken stock (or vegetable stock)
- 1 yellow onion, chopped
- 2 - 4 inch pieces of ginger, minced
- 4 pieces dried galangal root
- 8 - 4 inch pieces of lemongrass, smashed, bruised, and beat up to bring out flavor
- 4 kaffir lime leaves
- 2 Japanese sweet potatoes chopped into bite sized pieces
- 2 chicken breasts, fat removed (or substitute tofu)
- 1 red pepper, chopped
- 1 orange pepper, chopped
- 2 cans straw mushrooms, chopped in half
- 3-4 T fish sauce
- 1.5 T dark brown sugar
- 14 oz can coconut milk
- 2-3 T Thai curry or chili paste (to your spice liking)
- 3 T fresh squeeze lime juice
- Rice noodles or rice
- Chopped cilantro and lime wedges for garnish
- Step 1
- Add onion, ginger, lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, dried galangal, and sweet potatoes to 1 C broth and simmer for 10 minutes. (Add chopped carrots if adding them).
- Step 2
- If you are cooking rice instead of noodles, start it now. If using tofu, add remaining broth and skip to Step 5.
- Step 3
- Add chicken breasts and remaining chicken broth – cook for 15-20 minutes (or until chicken reaches 165 degrees).
- Step 4
- Remove chicken, cool slightly and pull apart with 2 forks.
- Step 5
- Add chopped peppers, straw mushrooms, coconut milk and simmer for 10 more minutes.
- Step 6
- Prepare rice noodles. Strain and set aside.
- Step 7
- Add pulled chicken or tofu, lime juice, Thai chili paste OR Thai curry paste (to taste), fish sauce, and brown sugar.
- Step 8
- Ladle soup over rice or rice noodles.
- Step 9
- Top with chopped cilantro and serve with lime wedges.
Song for the Prep: Spoon by Cibo Matto
You know you are going to dance around making this soup, so play this one on repeat. My favorite Japanese-American band EVER! I don’t have a favorite Thai band so work with me here. Spoon soup into your mouth and try not to spill it all over the front of your shirt like I do.