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A bowl of Thai tom kha gai soup served in a wooden bowl
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5 from 9 votes

Easy Tom Kha Gai Soup (Thai Coconut Chicken Soup)

This quick and easy, creamy tom kha gai soup is PACKED with flavor and has a wonderful balance of spicy, sweet, salty, and sour.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time15 mins
Total Time25 mins
Course: Appetizer, Side, Soup
Cuisine: Thai
Servings: 3
Calories: 415kcal
Author: Joyce Lee

Ingredients

  • 3 cups broth or water
  • 1 can coconut milk (or coconut cream, 400ml)
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • ¼ cup lime juice (Approx. 2-3 limes)
  • 4 ½ teaspoons palm sugar (or light brown sugar, cane sugar)
  • ½ teaspoon salt

Soup Aromatics

  • 2 stalks lemongrass
  • 10 kaffir lime leaves (*See note 1 for substitution)
  • 7 slices galangal (*See note 2 for substitution)
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 2-3 bird's eye chili

Chicken Marinade

  • 1 chicken breast (thinly sliced)
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon water
  • 1 teaspoon corn starch
  • 1 teaspoon oil

Vegetables

  • ½ small onion (or 3 large shallots, finely diced, approx ¼ cup)
  • ¼ cup button mushrooms (any type of mushroom will work)
  • ½ cup baby tomatoes (any type of tomato will work)
  • ¼ cup snow peas (tips removed, thinly sliced)
  • ¼ cup red peppers thinly sliced

Garnish

  • cilantro

Instructions

Prepare Aromatics for the Soup

  • Smash 4 cloves of garlic with the side of your knife and peel the skin off. Keep the garlic whole and set them aside.
  • Wash 10 kaffir lime leaves and rip them in half and set them aside.
  • Cut off the top 2-3 inches of the lemongrass (it's too dry to use) and discard it. Then take the back of your knife or a rolling pin and hit the lemongrass with it to bruise it and crack it open, focus on hitting the base of the lemongrass. Set them aside.
  • Remove the green stem of 2-3 Thai chilies and finely chop them and set them aside.
  • Slice the galangal into 7 slices or small pieces. Galangal is very tough to cut, so please be careful when cutting it and use a rocking motion with your knife slowly to cut through it.

Making the Broth

  • Set the stove to medium-high heat.
  • Add the 3 cups of broth, kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass, garlic, Thai chilies, and galangal into a small pot and bring the broth up to a boil.
  • Once the broth starts boiling, reduce the heat to low and simmer it gently for 15 minutes with no lid.

Prepare the Vegetables

  • While the broth is simmering, prepare the vegetables by thinly slicing ¼ cup of red peppers, ¼ cup of onions (or shallots), ¼ cup of mushrooms, and ¼ cup of snow peas.
  • Cut ½ cup of tomatoes. If you are using a large tomato, cut them into small wedges. If you are using baby tomatoes, slice them in half length-wise and set them aside.
  • Cut the limes in half and squeeze out the juice into a small bowl until you get ¼ cup of lime juice. Set it aside.

Marinate the Chicken

  • Thinly slice 1 chicken breast against the grain and place it in a bowl.
  • Add 1 teaspoon of water, 1 teaspoon of soy sauce, 1 teaspoon of corn starch, and 1 teaspoon of oil into the bowl with the sliced chicken and mix well. Set it aside for later.

Putting Everything Together

  • Once the soup has finished simmering, scoop out the aromatics from the soup with a small strainer and discard them. You should be able to see it clearly since there is no coconut cream in it yet.
  • Add in the onions (or shallots) and sliced chicken and stir it to separate the chicken into individual pieces and cook it for 3-4 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.
  • Stir in the coconut milk and let the soup simmer for 1 minute. Avoid boiling the soup, this will prevent the coconut cream from foaming and curdling.
  • Add in the vegetables and cook them for about 1-2 minutes and then turn off the heat
  • Mix in 2 tablespoons of fish sauce, ¼ cup of lime juice, and teaspoons of sugar, and do a taste test. It should be balanced with salty, sour, and sweet flavors. If it is not, adjust it to your liking.
  • Garnish with cilantro or Thai basil and enjoy!

Notes

  1. Kaffir lime leaves are a very important component to give the soup flavor, and I highly encourage you to use them but if you cannot find them you can substitute it for double the amount of lemongrass. 
  2. If you cannot find galangal, omit it. Please do not substitute ginger for it. Galangal and ginger have completely different flavor profiles.
  3. If you want a creamier soup with a stronger coconut flavor, substitute coconut milk with coconut cream.
  4. Try to use full-fat coconut milk for the best flavor.
  5. High heat will remove some of the flavors from kaffir lime leaves, just like how high heat also breaks down the flavors of fresh herbs, so try to keep the broth at a low simmer to get the most flavor from the aromatics.
  6. I like to add the onions in after the aromatics are done simmering and removed so that I have more food to eat. If you don't like eating onions, you can add the onions during the aromatic simmer stage and remove them with the aromatics.
  7. You can make this into a small cozy meal by adding a small bundle of rice noodles to it right before serving. Simply soak the rice noodles in boiling water for 3 minutes until they are soft (do a taste test). Once the noodles are soft, add them to the soup.
  8. If you have extra galangal, kaffir lime leaves, or lemongrass you can freeze them for up to 6 months in a ziploc. Make sure you remove as much air out of the ziplock as possible.

Nutrition

Serving: 128g | Calories: 415kcal | Carbohydrates: 20g | Protein: 21g | Fat: 31g | Saturated Fat: 25g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 48mg | Sodium: 1450mg | Potassium: 849mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 720IU | Vitamin C: 35mg | Calcium: 59mg | Iron: 6mg