Hot and Sour Coconut Chicken Soup (Tom Kha Kai)

January 18, 2012
0 Ratings
  • Serves 4
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. —edamame2003

What You'll Need
  • 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
  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.
Contest Entries

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • edamame2003
  • Nde416
  • David Manning
    David Manning
  • derek
I work in the entertainment business, and in my free time, I really enjoy growing my own vegetables, trolling my local farmers markets and trying to re-create yummy dishes I eat at my favorite restaurants. My son is a big influence on how and what I cook. He's my guinea pig and promises to try anything I make once. Luckily the recipes on food52 are bountiful and delicious.

5 Reviews

Nde416 March 3, 2020
This was great although I do like to have leftovers for my family of 5 I would quadruple.
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

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?