Authentic Thai Coconut Chicken Soup

March 2, 2019  |  Mains, Recipes, Soups

(Tom Kha Gai)


  • 6 cups homemade chicken stock
  • 28 ounces full-fat coconut milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 4 stalks lemongrass lower white part chopped into 1-inch chunks, then smashed with knife (2 stalks = 1 tablespoon chopped frozen mix)
  • 6 red shallots peeled and chunked (Sub: 3 smashed cloves of garlic plus a bit of red onion)
  • 1 cup cilantro
  • 4-5 red bird’s eye chili peppers to heat preference, smashed with knife
  • 3-inch chunck galangal root sliced
  • 8-10 kaffir lime leaves remove stems and tear and bruise by hand (Sub: zest of one lime, but really won’t be as complex.) (Get kaffir lime leaves online or at an Asian market; they freeze well.)
  • 2 teaspoons coconut sugar OPTIONAL. (Sub: Rapadura or brown sugar)
  • 1-2 pounds boneless chicken thighs cut to 1″ pieces (or use meat leftover from making broth or stock)
  • 2 cups mushrooms button, straw, or oyster, sliced
  • 1/4 cup Asian fish sauce This is an essential, authentic ingredient. Get Thai fish sauce online or at Whole Foods or Asian markets.
  • 6-8 limes
  • 2 cans baby corn drained and chopped (OPTIONAL)
  • 1 handful sweet red pepper rings cherry tomato halves, or carrot slices (OPTIONAL)
  • 1 squirt lime juice fresh squeezed
  • 1 handful cilantro chopped
  • 1 dash chili paste or Sriracha sauce (OPTIONAL)


  • Put stock and coconut milk into a soup pot and add lemongrass, galangal, shallots, cilantro, and lime leaf. When making a large batch, put all the seasonings into a nut milk bag and “steep” it in the broth like a huge tea bag, so you don’t have to strain a huge, heavy pot later.
  • Bring to a simmer to infuse the herbs into the broth for about 10-15 minutes, or to taste. Do not boil!
  • Strain broth through a fine mesh sieve or simply remove the nut milk bag.
  • Add the sugar to the broth, if using, and bring to a low simmer of about 160-180 degrees. Do not boil!
  • Add salt, chicken, mushrooms, corn, and other veggies, and simmer until the chicken is completely cooked and the mushrooms are tender, about 5-10 minutes.
  • Once the chicken is cooked through, throw in the smashed chilies and remove the pot from heat immediately.Add the juice of 2 limes and the fish sauce, stir, and taste. Add more lime juice and fish sauce, if necessary. The soup should be predominantly sour, followed by salty/umami.
  • Garnish with cilantro leaves, lime juice and hot sauce, if using.