Thai Coconut Chicken Soup (Tom Kha Gai)

October 31, 2012

Author: KatieChin

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When I think of my poor friends (Frank, Michael, Jamie, Raquel, Cady, Katie and Sophie — this means you!) in NYC whom are suffering through Hurricane Sandy, all I want to do is make a big pot of Thai Coconut Chicken Soup (Tom Kha Gai) and magically beam it over to them. This soup is bursting with sweet, sour, salty and hot notes and is an explosion of classic Thai flavors from the coconut milk, lime juice, roasted red chili sauce, kaffir lime leaves, galangal, and fish sauce. It’s a sure fire way to soothe any weary (or just plain hungry) soul and couldn’t be any easier to make. The kaffir lime leaves and roasted red chili paste are optional but if you have access to them at your local Asian market, it’s worth the effort and once you make it you’ll understand why!


2 cups homemade chicken stock (see page ___) or store-bought

six 1/4-in thick slices galangal or fresh ginger

2 stalks lemongrass, cut into 2″ long pieces and bruised

4 kaffiir lime leaves, torn in half (optional)

1 tablespoon palm sugar or brown sugar

1 ½ teaspoons homemade roasted red chili paste (page ____) or store-bought (nam prik pao, optional)

1 cup coconut milk

½ lb boneless, skinless chicken thigh, cut into 1-in (2.5 cm) pieces

1 cup sliced white button mushrooms

3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice

2 tablespoons fish sauce (nam pla)

2-3 fresh hot red or green chilies, preferably Thai, smashed

fresh cilantro leaves for garnish


  • Bring the stock, galangal, lemongrass, lime leaves, sugar and roasted red chili paste to a boil in a medium pot. Add the coconut milk, reduce heat and bring to a simmer. Add the chicken and mushrooms and continue simmering until chicken is white and opaque, 5 to 7 minutes. Quickly stir in the lime juice and fish sauce. Float the chilies on the soup. Dish out into individual serving bowls and sprinkle with cilantro leaves. Serve immediately.