Making the best tasting Thai Coconut Soup is within reach with this delicious Tom Kha recipe. Use the essential ingredients plus your favorite protein, like chicken, shrimp, or tofu and this dish will taste authentic, with complex, memorable flavors, like it came out of a restaurant kitchen.
Tom Kha Gai (the chicken version) was the first Thai food I ever had. This creamy dish is rich, but somehow light at the same time, and is spiked with more than just a hint of lime. Its taste blew me away. I’m forever a fan of Thai food simply because of this dish.
What’s In it?
The soup’s essential ingredients are coconut milk, kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass, Asian ginger root (galangal), and fish sauce. I use chicken broth and will often vary the vegetables, or add to them. Red bell peppers, peas and edamame work well as additions.
I’ve tweaked this recipe over the past decade and compared it to many restaurants here in the states and in Thailand. This best tasting Thai coconut soup is my “go to” version now and I’m excited to share it with you here. I often make it with different types of mushrooms as their unique texture as you chew is unmistakable. And I almost always serve it over white or brown rice. I like it because it makes a big batch.
The other great thing about this dish? The flavors meld and blossom the longer it sits, so it works great to make ahead of time, or have as leftovers.
Find Your New Favorite Asian Grocery Store
I’m in Minneapolis. My favorite Asian grocery store is United Noodle. That’s where I always get this dish’s essential ingredients. If you haven’t been, be sure to check them out. Or find your own favorite Asian grocery store. I can’t recall what I did the first times I tried to make this dish at home. They were far from blue ribbon status. Maybe because I used water, versus chicken broth? Ginger vs. galangal? Who knows?! It wasn’t until I used the kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass, and galangal, altogether, that the dish truly tasted like it came out of a Thai restaurant kitchen. Be sure to use the essential ingredients for an authentic taste.
Change It Up
You can easily make this soup vegetarian by using mushroom or vegetable broth versus chicken broth, tofu versus chicken as the protein, and an alternate to fish sauce, such as soy sauce. Changing up the heat level is easy too, because you can just adjust the amount of Thai chilies or paste you use.
The garnishes of red chili oil, cilantro, and fresh lime not only give the soup pops of color, but they also add another dimension of deliciousness to it.
Make it soon and enjoy! If you want another good chicken dish, be sure to check out my Chicken Satay recipe.
Best Tasting Thai Coconut Soup
1 cup uncooked Thai jasmine rice, rinsed
2 cups water (or broth)
1 teaspoon oil
2 (14 ounce) cans coconut milk
6 cups broth
6 kaffir lime leaves
1/4 cup galangal (or ginger root) peeled, finely chopped
2 tablespoons fish sauce (or soy sauce for vegetarians)
2 tablespoons lemongrass, finely chopped
1 tablespoon garlic, finely chopped
1 teaspoon sugar
4-6 Thai bird chili peppers, finely chopped (or Thai chili paste), to taste
1 pound chicken breast, cut to bite size pieces
4 cups sliced mushrooms (shitake, oyster, or other)
1 cup cherry tomatoes, cut in half
1 lime, or to taste, cut in half
1/2 cup cilantro, loosely chopped, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon chili oil
In a medium pot, bring rice, water (or broth) and oil to a boil. Cover, reduce to simmer, and cook 15-20 minutes, or until water is evaporated. Fluff with fork. Meanwhile, in large soup pot, heat coconut milk, chicken broth, kaffir lime leaves, galangal, fish sauce, lemongrass, sugar, Thai chilies, and Thai chili paste. Bring to boil and reduce to simmer. Add chicken and mushrooms. Cook 10 minutes or until chicken no longer pink in middle. Add cherry tomatoes while soup is still hot, 2-3 minutes before serving.
Squeeze half lime into soup and stir. Ladle into bowls. Cut remaining half of lime into slices. Add as garnish. Serve with fresh cilantro and drizzle of red chili oil. Makes about 6 servings.