Tom Kha Gai Soup

There is something downright magical about a warm bowl of soup in the waning sunshine. A bowl offering flavors ranging from salty to spicy to sweet and more. A bowl that's beautiful to see, wonderful to smell, and takes you to a place of flowers and spices when you take your first spoonful. And today, I'm sharing my recipe for that.

Tom Kha Gai is a creamy Thai coconut chicken soup and when I'm a bit sniffly, feeling down, or just wanting a break from winter's gray, it's the first dish I turn to. There's something wonderful about the golden creaminess of it all. It does call for some unusual ingredients, but you can work dried Thai chiles and lemongrass into the mix, though I prefer to freeze those plus fresh ginger to have on hand especially for this recipe. Trust me, you'll be glad you did the same.

This soup is enough for me on a cold day, though I have made potstickers or eggrolls with it before. A light salad might also be nice - maybe something with sliced cucumbers and crushed peanuts? I usually just snuggle a bowl in a warm corner and let the experience melt me a little.

Tom Kha Gai Soup

  • 1 T. coconut oil
  • ½ yellow or white onion, sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 Thai chiles, halved
  • 3 ¼-inch slices fresh ginger
  • 1 lemongrass stalk, pounded with the side of a knife and cut into 2-inch long pieces
  • 2 tsp. red Thai curry paste
  • 4 c. chicken or vegetable broth
  • 4 c. canned coconut milk
  • 2 medium chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces (or 10 oz. raw shrimp or cubed tofu)
  • 8 oz. white mushroom caps, sliced
  • 2 T. fish sauce
  • 1 T. soy sauce
  • 2 T. fresh lime juice

In a medium pot, heat the coconut oil over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, chiles, ginger, lemongrass, and red curry paste and cook, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes or until the onions are softened. Add the chicken broth and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes.

Strain out the aromatics (the garlic, onions, lemongrass, and ginger) and discard. Add the coconut milk, chicken breast (you could substitute tofu or shrimp), and mushrooms. Simmer until the chicken breast pieces are just cooked through, then add the fish sauce, soy sauce, and lime juice, adjusting to taste. Cook for an additional 2 minutes before serving to blend the flavors.

  • Yields: 6-8 servings
  • Preparation Time: 50 minutes