Get ready to experience a burst of authentic Thai flavors with this authentic Thai Tom Kha Gai (chicken coconut soup). This easy recipe combines tender pieces of chicken, creamy coconut milk, stock, and a medley of aromatic Thai ingredients, creating a harmonious balance of sweet, savory, and creamy flavors.
For more healthy and delicious Thai soups, check out these tasty spicy soups: chicken Tom Yum soup, Thai fish and shrimp sour soup, and creamy Tom Yum soup. Here's one that is not spicy but extremely tasty- Khao Tom Thai chicken soup.
Tom Kha Gai is a good Thai soup to introduce your palate to Thai flavors. The creamy base of the coconut milk has a mild and sweet flavor that makes it a good soup to cozy up with on cold winter days. Let’s take a little adventure trip to the Asian markets to grab ingredients to make this divine recipe!
- What is Tom Kha?
- Why You'll Love Tom Kha Gai Soup Recipe
- Tom Kha vs. Tom Yum
- Ingredients to make Thai coconut soup recipe
- How to Make Tom Kha Gai Soup
- Garnishing Options
- Kitchen Notes for Thai Coconut Soup
- Helpful Kitchen Tools for This Recipe
- What to Serve With Tom Kha Gai Soup
- Frequently Asked Questions
- More Thai Food You'll Love
- Authentic Thai Tom Kha Gai (Chicken Coconut Soup)
What is Tom Kha?
Tom Kha is a well-loved Thai chicken coconut soup with savory flavors made with light protein like chicken, tofu, shrimp, or vegetables. The soup is made with flavorful stock and coconut milk, then infused with healthy herbs seasoned to perfect with fish sauce and lime juice. It is a creamy light soup that is delicious and full of fresh herbs that will keep your body and mind healthy and happy!
Why You'll Love Tom Kha Gai Soup Recipe
- Minimal ingredients. You only need a few ingredients to make this delicious Thai coconut chicken soup recipe.
- It's fast and easy! You can make Tom Kha in about 20 minutes after all the ingredients are prepped and ready to cook.
- Tom Kha soup is healthy! Galangal, lemongrass, and kaffir lime leaves used in this recipe have high medicinal values that help fight cancer and inflammation!
- A comfort food. Tom Kha Gai Soup is a comforting Thai soup that will keep you warm and cozy all year round, especially if you need some extra boost of vitamins and nutrients when you are not well.
- It's tasty! Its fantastic flavor comes from creamy coconut milk, umami-rich fish sauce, zesty lime juice, fresh ginger, and galangal root warmth.
- This soup is comforting, nourishing, and a feast for your taste buds with its bold and exotic taste.
Tom Kha vs. Tom Yum
Tom Kha and Tom Yum are popular Thai soups with distinct flavors and ingredients. Tom Kha is a creamy coconut soup with a mild and slightly sweet taste. It usually includes coconut milk, galangal, lemongrass, lime leaves, and chicken or shrimp.
On the other hand, Tom Yum is a spicy and sour soup. It typically has a clear broth and includes ingredients like lemongrass, lime juice, chili peppers, mushrooms, and shrimp or chicken.
Both soups are delicious and offer different flavors, so it's a matter of personal preference which one you might like more. You can make my easy Tom Yum soup here in an instant pot with this shrimp tom yum soup, or make this creamy Tom Yum soup version with shrimp here.
Ingredients to make Thai coconut soup recipe
To make authentic Tom Kha Gai recipes, gather the following ingredients. The three key herbs used extensively in Thai cooking for many great recipes are lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, and galangal. Don't skip or substitute these, please. Find all three at the Asian grocery stores in the frozen or produce section.
- Chicken breast or chicken thighs. Use boneless and skinless chicken.
- Coconut milk. Use full-fat Thai brand coconut milk like Chao Koh or Aroy D.
- Chicken stock or vegetable stock. Use this tasty Asian Beef bone broth for extra flavors!
- Fresh galangal. Check your Asian markets for galangal. Do not substitute ginger for galangal. Omit it if you can't find any.
- Kaffir lime leaves. They are also called Makrut lime leaves.
- Lemongrass stalks. Lightly crushed it before use to help release oils.
- Mushroom. Button, portobello, and enoki are excellent for this Tom Kha soup.
- Thai chilies (sliced, seeds removed for milder spice)
- Red bell peppers for a less spicy taste. Use more as a garnish rather than as an added vegetable.
- Cilantro roots. Use cilantro stems if roots aren't available.
- Fresh lime juice.
- Fish sauce. Fish sauce adds an umami flavor that balances the creamy and tangy flavors.
- Chili oil (optional for added spiciness)
- Sugar. Optional. Some recipes may add sugar for the extra sweetness or if the soup imparts too much salty flavors. I didn't for this recipe, but feel free to add 1-2 teaspoons if needed to create the perfect balance for your taste buds. Brown sugar, palm sugar, or coconut sugar work well for this recipe. White sugar is a bit too sweet.
How to Make Tom Kha Gai Soup
Step 1. In a large saucepan or Dutch oven on medium heat, add stock, galangal, lemongrass, and kaffir lime leaves. Bring to a gentle boil. (You are making a quick stock here for the soup base.)
Step 2. Add chicken and mushroom. Lower heat to medium-high. Cook until the chicken is done (anywhere from 7-8 minutes, depending on your stovetop).
Step 3. Add the entire can of coconut milk (I used Aroy-D for this recipe). Stir together and cook for 2-3 minutes.
Step 4. Add the cilantro stems and fish sauce, stir, and cook for two more minutes. Taste and adjust the flavors with more fish sauce, lime juice, or sugar. Turn the heat off and serve.
Step 5. Turn the heat off and remove the saucepan from the stovetop. Add lime juice and stir in one last time.
Step 6. Let cool for a few minutes and portion out in soup bowls for serving. That's it! Simple, easy, healthy, creamy, light, and super delicious!
Garnish your Tom Kha Gai Soup with a sprinkle of sliced green onions, chopped fresh cilantro, lime wedges, or thinly sliced Thai or red bell peppers for garnishing. Add a drizzle of chili oil for an extra kick. These garnishes not only add visual appeal but also enhance the overall taste of the soup.
Kitchen Notes for Thai Coconut Soup
- To make this soup vegetarian, substitute chicken with tofu and use vegetable broth or stock instead of chicken stock.
- Adjust the level of spiciness by adding more or fewer Thai chilis according to your preference.
Helpful Kitchen Tools for This Recipe
- A Dutch oven or large pot for cooking the soup.
- A sharp knife for slicing the chicken and preparing the Thai ingredients.
- A slotted spoon to remove the kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass, and galangal before serving.
What to Serve With Tom Kha Gai Soup
Serve this delectable Thai soup with steamed jasmine rice or rice noodles for a hearty and satisfying main course. The rice or noodles will soak up the flavorful broth, enhancing your dining experience. The soup is also excellent if you want a lower-carb option.
- For a vegetarian soup version, use tofu instead of chicken and vegetable broth instead of chicken broth.
- If fresh galangal is unavailable, do not use ginger as a substitute. The flavors will change and no longer be the same soup. Skip it if you can't find any.
- Soy sauce is not a good substitute for fish sauce. Use salt instead if you can't find fish sauce.
Tom Kha Gai Soup is best enjoyed fresh, but any leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. Reheat the soup over low heat before serving.
Frequently Asked Questions
Whether you can find Thai ingredients at your local market or need to visit an Asian market depends on where you live. Some local markets may have a section dedicated to international ingredients, including Thai ones. However, Asian markets usually have a wider variety of authentic Thai ingredients.
To make the soup less spicy without compromising the authentic flavors, you can reduce the amount of chili peppers or remove them entirely. You can also balance the spiciness by adding more coconut milk or using less spicy ingredients like Thai chili paste.
While canned coconut cream can be used as a substitute for coconut milk, it will produce a thicker and richer soup. If you prefer a lighter consistency, you can dilute the coconut cream with water or broth to achieve a similar effect to coconut milk.
Let's break down the Thai language for Tom Kha Gai. Tom = boil, Kha = Galangal, and Gai = chicken. So basically, Tom Kha Gai is a chicken soup using galangal root made by boiling all the ingredients together in a large saucepan or Dutch oven. It’s super fast and easy to make.
The base is the main difference between Tom Kha Gai Soup and Tom Yum Soup. Tom Kha Gai has a coconut milk base, giving it a creamy and slightly sweet taste, while Tom Yum has a clear broth base with a tangy and spicy flavor.
Tom Kha soup is very healthy. It is gluten- and dairy-free and very low in carbs. Tom Kha is a bit milder and sweeter than the Tom Yum soup, making it especially good for those who can’t quite handle the spiciness of other Thai recipes yet. It’s also a good soup for when you are feeling under the weather, as the soup is full of nutritious herbs with medicinal healing properties to help aid in your recovery.
More Thai Food You'll Love
- Thai red curry paste
- Thai red curry with cod
- Pineapple with sweet and sour chicken
- Thai basil fried rice with chicken
- Thai vegetarian red curry with vermicelli noodles.
With its creamy coconut base, tender chicken, and aromatic Thai spices, Tom Kha Gai Soup is a testament to Thai cuisine's rich and diverse flavors. This easy-to-follow recipe allows you to create an authentic Thai soup in the comfort of your kitchen. So, gather your ingredients and embark on a culinary journey with this soul-warming Thai delight that will surely leave you craving more.Print