Hot and Sour Coconut Chicken Soup (Tom Kha Kai)

January 18, 2012

Author Notes:

This is the Thai version of chicken soup. Great for rainy days. It's just sour enough to initially tease your taste buds. What follows is a tummy coating of rich coconut milk, hearty chicken, exotic spices and enough citrus and greens to make each sip as refreshing as it is comforting.


Serves: 4


  • 2 stalks lemongrass, cut in rings
  • 1" pieces galangal or ginger, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 8 kaffir lime leaves (optional, but really adds to the fragrance)
  • 2 serrano peppers, seeds removed dependent on how spicy
  • 3 cups water
  • 2 limes, juice (or to taste)
  • fish sauce (to taste)
  • 1 chicken breast, thinly sliced
  • green onion (garnish)
  • cilantro (garnish)
  • 2 cups coconut milk
In This Recipe


  1. Give the lemongrass, galangal, garlic a smash with the back side of a knife or in a mortar.
  2. Dice the shallot, thinly slice the kaffir lime leaves. Toast the ingredients to release the aroma.
  3. Add water and bring to a simmer for 30 minutes and allow the ingredients to steep for another 10-15 minutes.
  4. Add the sliced chicken and allow to cook in the soup until the chicken is cooked; about 10 minutes.
  5. Add the coconut milk and allow to boil. Lower the heat and scoop out the lemongrass, galangal, kaffir leaves.
  6. Squeeze in the lime juice to taste; add fish sauce and serrano pepper.
  7. Add mushrooms (optional) and allow to simmer for about a minute.
  8. Garnish with chopped green onion and cilantro.

More Great Recipes:
Soup|Thai|Coconut|Fruit|Green Onion/Scallion|Lime Juice|Milk/Cream|Lemongrass|Cilantro|Fall|Spring|Winter

Reviews (4) Questions (1)

4 Reviews

Author Comment
edamame2003 October 20, 2016
thank you for letting me know! I have to revise this recipe in general; but for this, 3 cups water + 2 cups coconut milk.
David M. October 20, 2016
Yes!! Thank you! Made it today and it was delicious!
David M. October 20, 2016
@edamame2003<br /><br />Great recipe, however you forgot to list the quantity of coconut milk for the ingredient list. You mentioned when to add it to the soup, but that doesn't help us nuchbif we don't know how much is required in the actual recipe. Please edit this for all of us! Thank you
derek January 15, 2014
How much coconut milk is added?