Thai Coconut Soup, or tom kha, is a classic Thai chicken soup recipe that’s so much more intensely flavored than most western soups, it’ll wake you up, tingle your taste buds and make your nose run (in the best way.)
Thai Coconut Soup (aka Tom Kha) is a Southeast Asian classic
This soup is completely different from all the other soups that I make and that’s why I love it. The flavor profile is pure Thai, but it’s completely attainable in a Western kitchen thanks to a few key ingredients readily available in most supermarkets.
basic ingredients in Thai coconut soup ~
These flavors form the backbone of this soup, they’re simple yet powerful…
- chicken stock
- coconut milk ~ buy full fat coconut milk in the can.
- curry paste ~ The soup gets its beautiful salmony color from red curry paste (Thai curry paste comes in red and green varieties.) I was happy to discover them in new smaller 4 oz sizes, which is perfect for someone who cooks Asian food only occasionally.
- fish sauce ~ don’t skip this for authentic flavor.
- chili paste ~ I always have a jar in the fridge, it’s an ingredient I use over and over again, not just for Asian recipes.
- Lemongrass or lemongrass paste ~ another ingredient that makes all the difference. You can sometimes find it fresh in your produce section, but the paste works just fine, and you’ll find that in the Asian section of your store.
- lime juice ~ fresh!
- cilantro ~ fresh!
- hot peppers ~ any small variety your supermarket stocks.
Once you’ve stocked these Thai ingredients you’ll have them on hand for future Thai inspired recipes like my Thai Spaghetti Salad or my Thai Beef Salad.
additional ingredient suggestions for Thai soup
- chicken ~ feel free to use a rotisserie chicken for convenience
- onions ~ regular onions or scallions
- baby bok choy
- pea pods
- bean sprouts
- bell peppers
substitutions for a Thai vegan soup
- vegetable broth for the chicken broth
- Tamari sauce for the fish sauce
- tofu or mushrooms instead of chicken.
Thai Coconut Soup
Thai Coconut Soup, or tom kha, is a classic Thai chicken soup that's so much more intensely flavored than most western soups, it'll wake you up, tingle your taste buds and make your nose run (in the best way.)
Servings: 4 servings
- 4 cups chicken stock (use vegetable for vegan)
- 1/2 yellow onion, or 1 bunch scallions, thinly sliced
- 1 1/2 inch piece of peeled fresh ginger, minced
- 1 stalk lemongrass,upper and outer leaves trimmed off, peeled and halved the long way (or 2 tsp lemongrass paste)
- 2 small hot peppers, sliced thinly
- 13 ounce can coconut milk, full fat
- 1 Tbsp chili paste
- 1 Tbsp red curry paste
- 2-3 Tbsp fish sauce (use Tamari sauce for vegan)
- 2 cups cooked chicken (use tofu for vegan)
- handful of fresh cilantro, chopped
- juice of 1 lime
- salt to taste
- minced red bell pepper for garnish, optional
- Put the chicken stock in a soup pot, along with the onion, ginger, stalk of lemongrass and sliced hot peppers. Simmer over medium low heat for about 15 minutes.
- Add the coconut milk, pastes, fish sauce, and chicken. Let it simmer for another 5 minutes so the flavors can meld.
- Add the lime juice, cilantro and salt to taste. Remove the lemongrass and serve.
Calories: 369 kcal · Carbohydrates: 15 g · Protein: 26 g · Fat: 31 g · Saturated Fat: 22 g · Cholesterol: 60 mg · Sodium: 411 mg · Potassium: 692 mg · Fiber: 1 g · Sugar: 5 g · Vitamin A: 635 IU · Vitamin C: 4 mg · Calcium: 44 mg · Iron: 5 mg
Nutritional information is provided as a courtesy and is an estimate only. This information comes from online calculators. Although The View from Great Island attempts to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures are only estimates.
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Questions and Reviews
Years ago (way too long ago – say, 28 years ago) my wife and I loved coconut milk soup hot pot at a Thai restaurant in Geneva, Illinois. I have always wanted to replicate it. That has come true. I suppose I was a little lucky getting the ingredients right but it was perfect. I was afraid it would not be spicy enough and then that it would be way too spicy but it came out just right. It is pretty spicy so that you might sweat a bit but not burn your mouth – perfect. The instructions were followed pretty much exactly as written but the ingredient details follow. I used 3 habenero peppers that I grew last year and had frozen (froze whole and fresh then diced them without seeds and added to this recipe). The coconut milk was a 14 oz can of Aroy-D imported from Thailand. Fresh lemongrass from the local Asian food store. For ginger I used 2 tablespoons of organic ginger juice (pure ginger). Chili paste was Sambal Oelek which is made in USA (does not look like…. but that is what it says). Chicken was about 1.5 pounds of the Costco chicken breast tenderloins baked for about 14 minutes then diced/shredded. My onion was half a regular sweet onion from Aldi which I will supplement the next time with chopped green onion. Fish sauce was Datu Puti which I think is from the Philippines. Red curry paste was Thai Kitchen brand. I did not have cilantro or minced red bell pepper for garnish so skipped that. Lime was Real Lemon brand lime juice, about a tablespoon. The soup was rich, creamy and full of flavor. I just hope I can replicate this again which is really why I am writing this review so I can remember how I made it. Great recipe.
What size can of coconut milk?
13 ounce, don’t know how that amount went missing!
It was easy with a little prep work. It gave a lot of options for alternatives. Cooked quickly and was DELICIOUS ?
Hi, what do you mean by ‘hot peppers’, do you mean chilli peppers. The small ones.
Sorry different terminology in Ireland. 2 chilli peppers sounded very spicy.
It is confusing. I say hot peppers generically because most of us can’t find specific ones at any given time. I used small red chili peppers, but you could use Thai chilis, or jalapeños, depending on what you can find. Go with whatever suits your heat tolerance.
This is exceptional. Thank you so much it is my new favorite, thnak goodness, since I had to buy almost everything. But SOOOOOO worth it. YUM!!!!
Love this soup. My tips: Could not find lemongrass at typical supermarkets here in Columbus Ohio, but found at international market. It came wrapped in a bundle of 10 stalks. I used 2 in my first batch, and 8 in my second, bashing the halved stalks before putting them in the soup. Great either way. I don’t think lemongrass is overpowering either way. I also remove the lemongrass before I put in the chicken, it’s a pain fishing them out but just do it. Only used half of the fish sauce. I think a nice addition, which I’ve seen with other similar recipes is sliced white mushroom caps.
Hey Sue! Do you have a preferred brand of coconut milk? Lately I seem to keep getting cans that are slimy instead of creamy, even though they are NOT low-fat.
Thanks for another great recipe!
I usually use Thai Kitchen, full fat coconut milk.