Thai Coconut Chicken Soup (Tom Kha Gai)

May 31, 2011

Test Kitchen-Approved

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!


Food52 Review: 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

Serves: 4


  • 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
In This Recipe


  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.

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Reviews (18) Questions (1)

18 Reviews

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?
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.<br />
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.<br />There are numerous "conversion" apps online. Here's one.<br /><br />
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?
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!