Thai Coconut Chicken Soup (Tom Kha Gai)

May 31, 2021
6 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
  • Serves 4
Author Notes

Tom Kha Gai is a creamy, aromatic, and zesty soup that is distinctly Thai. Made with coconut milk, chicken, lemongrass, galangal, and chili, its very easy to make but certainly delivers impressive flavors! I made this for my website: Hope you like it! —thaifoodie

Test Kitchen Notes

This happens to be one of my favorite Thai soups, so I was so excited to try this recipe. It is savory in comparison to other Tom Kha Gai I have tried, but I really enjoyed the final dish. The soup offers a lot of layers of flavor, and I think it could even simmer a bit longer to really enhance those nuances. I recommend pulling out the lemongrass, galangal, and kaffir lime leaves before serving (maybe before adding the chicken and the mushrooms?). I think this is a great base for a variety of different proteins (would be lovely with white fish), and I will add it to my repertoire when I want a more savory soup. —figgypudding

What You'll Need
  • 500 milliliters coconut milk
  • 200 grams sliced chicken breast
  • 1/2 medium tomato, chopped into chunks
  • 1/2 medium onion, chopped into chunks
  • 2 cups mushrooms (preferably straw mushrooms), chopped in half
  • 1 small red chili (add another if you'd like more spice)
  • 1 piece galangal, 1 inch long
  • 1 piece lemongrass, white part only, chopped in half
  • 1 lime
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 1 teaspoon palm sugar
  • 1 shallot, chopped in thirds
  • 1 teaspoon coriander leaves
  • 1 kaffir lime leaf, stem removed
  1. In a medium saucepan or wok bring the coconut milk to a boil over medium-high heat.
  2. Reduce heat and add the galangal, chilli, lime leaf, and lemongrass. Simmer the coconut milk for 5 to 10 minutes to allow the flavours of the herbs and spices to infuse into the coconut milk.
  3. Add the sliced chicken and cook until the chicken turns white. Next add fish sauce, sugar, and lime juice. If you wish to increase the volume of liquid, you can add some liquid chicken stock at this point. Cook for approximately 5 minutes.
  4. Add the onion, tomato, and mushrooms to the soup and cook for another 5 to 10 minutes.
  5. Remove from heat and stir through the shallot and coriander. Serve with a side of steamed rice.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • charles
  • Kate Valleri
    Kate Valleri
  • Raine Screwball Eaday
    Raine Screwball Eaday
  • Sarah E.
    Sarah E.
  • Mindy Stone
    Mindy Stone

29 Reviews

charles May 31, 2021
Really enjoyed it. I made it vegetarian, so no chicken, and added some carrots. I also noticed when I added extra stock and vegetables, I did need to add a little more of the core flavors to retune the dish. For me that was adding some more lemongrass, fish sauce, chili, lime, and galangal. Overall I'm really happy with this, and it's simple to make at home.

I will make this again. To really sell anyone curious, my wife doesn't like coconut and she up for having it again.
cherie January 23, 2020
This was a delicious soup and so easy to make. I am going to search for galangal in my area - I can only find ginger and I would like to taste the difference of the two.
I doubled the recipe and it was very tasty the next day. I would like to find a source for Kaffir lime leaves here in the area of California where I live (Ventura County) but so far - no luck. I have to buy them through Amazon.
Shalimar B. April 11, 2020
There are a few Asian grocery stores in Ventura and Oxnard where you can find galangal and kaffir leaves. I freeze all in small packages.
cherie April 12, 2020
I haven't found the Galangal - I have the Kaffir lime leaves through amazon. Thank you for letting me know - I should search in the Ventura/oxnard area. is there a specific asian grocery or is it a traditional grocery carrying these items? (i.e., Ralphs, vons etc.
Jean October 16, 2020
I’m not in CA, but have found both galangal and kaffir lime leaves at Korean grocery stores on the east coast.
lighthouse6 November 15, 2019
Just made this for lunch. It's good. I did double the fish sauce and lime to get a more authentic taste because I love that sweet, salty, sour thing going on. I also used thighs - never breast meat. Yum. Thanks for the inspiration!
CanadianChef November 10, 2019
This recipe is also great with salmon or halibut.
For a little more "creaminess", i prefer to use coconut cream.
This is a very good base recipe.
Kate V. October 17, 2019
My husband lived in Ratchaburi, Thailand for awhile and he picked up some awesome cooking skills. This is one of my favourite soups, and he's taught me a few insider tricks. Here's a few changes to make this dish a bit more authentically Thai: use chicken thighs, even with bones, for a better flavour. Up the fish sauce and sugar x 2, at least. Put the (clean) roots of your coriander into the soup at the beginning- they have tons of flavour; make sure you remove the bones and roots before serving.
Andrea February 9, 2017
I made this last night and the flavor was great but my chicken came out a bit tough. I don't usually cook chicken this way (poached?) so looking for suggestions for how to fix this next time. I maxxed at the time ranges in the recipe, and then kept it on low for 5 more while I was waiting for my rice to finish. Too much time for the chicken? Or would letting it cook even longer increase the tenderness?
Kate V. October 17, 2019
Chicken breasts can be really dry. Try slicing up thighs instead.
cherie January 23, 2020
The first time I made this, I used chicken breasts and poached them in chicken stock, then shredded rather than sliced. I used about 1 cup of the poaching liquid in the soup. The chicken was very tender. Next time, I will try thighs.
Raine S. March 21, 2016
That was gorgeous. I literally just finished it haha. Question though, am I supposed to sieve the lemongrass out at any point? It's awful to chew
james December 17, 2016
Yes, don't eat the lemongrass. Take it out.
Sarah E. November 3, 2015
Absolutely delicious! Made this tonight--I found fresh lemongrass at Whole Foods but they were our of galangal and kaffir lime leaves so those two I found packaged in the Asian food aisle instead - they worked out very well! I doubled the chicken to make this a filling main dish, added 1 cup chicken stock also. Will make again!
Mindy S. October 27, 2015
I did not have galangal so I used fresh ginger instead. I also substituted red curry paste for red chiles and added Julianne carrots and 1/4 cup packed chopped cilantro. My guest loved the soup and I will definitely be making this again.
Jen! February 14, 2015
This was delicious and super easy to make. We added 15oz fresh rice noodles. Yum!
Margarita U. February 24, 2014
Absolutely delicious! I used ground ginger instead of galangal, and brown sugar because I was in a hurry. For the mushrooms I used a bag of mixed Asian varieties by Woodstock and sold at WFoods. Instead of shallot added red onion or maybe scallions. I had a jar of sliced lemongrass that I keep in the fridge, and added 1-2 teaspoons.
Nicole October 27, 2013
You usually find them at WholeFood or specially dept. often, if you ask the manager to order these food they will be happy to do so. I might try World Market too! Good luck because you really have to try the recipe, it is worth it
ayoung816 October 27, 2013
Sounds wonderful! But where would I find lemongrass and galangal? Thanks
Tann'sgirl November 4, 2013
Any Asian food market will have lemon grass, and ginger can be substituted for galangal.
Jane H. October 13, 2015
Uwajimaya has both!
Arrxx October 27, 2013
Yvonne re: Metric conversion.
There are numerous "conversion" apps online. Here's one.
Rhonda35 October 4, 2013
Delicious and easy. I used double the lime juice because I like the enhanced sourness.
Jenna @. October 1, 2013
I am super excited to find this recipe from a source I trust! I always get it at my favorite local Thai place, but wanted to make it at home. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!
Nicole September 30, 2013
Made the soup last night and my husband and I enjoyed it very much! Will definitely do again soon.thank you for the recipe.
yvonne M. September 29, 2013
Sounds great but with. Metric measurements I am totally lost. Can any one translate it?
lighthouse6 November 15, 2019
You can always find any conversion for ANYTHING online : )
foxeslovelemons September 26, 2013
I can tell just by reading the recipe how many layers of complex flavor this recipe has. Congrats on the CP!
catydid November 30, 2011
Delicious and surprisingly easy! I left out the fish sauce and sugar, did add about a cup of chicken broth. I used leftover turkey (from thanksgiving!) and it was a big hit! Best use of leftover turkey yet! Thank you!