Asian Gluten Free Healthy Lunch Mushrooms Paleo Soup Take Out

Thai Coconut Soup (tom kha)

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A bowl of steaming hot Thai Coconut Soup

Thai Coconut Soup, or tom kha, is a classic Thai 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.)

A bowl of steaming hot Thai Coconut Soup

This soup is completely different from all the other soups that I make and that’s why I love it.  There’s not a clove of garlic, pepper grinder, or hunk of Parmesan cheese in sight.

Fresh chilis and lime for Thai Coconut Soup

The ingredients are beautiful in themselves, falling into a palette of zesty flavorful greens that make up the backbone of flavors, along with the less assertive but luminescent whites of the onion, mushrooms, baby bok-choy, chunks of chicken and coconut milk

Onions and mushrooms for Thai Coconut Soup
bok choy for Thai Coconut Soup
Coconut Milk for Thai Coconut Soup
fresh cilantro for Thai Coconut Soup

The soup gets its beautiful salmony color from the chili and red curry pastes.  I was happy to discover them in new smaller 4 oz sizes, which is perfect for someone who cooks Asian food only occasionally.

Thai chili pastes for Thai Coconut Soup

The only ingredient you might have trouble finding a stalk of lemongrass.  I found mine hanging out all by itself in a bin shoved against the corner of one of the produce shelves, looking a little worse for wear.  It has a unique flavor so it’s worth it if you can locate it, but don’t worry if you can’t find it.  You can also buy lemongrass paste in the Asian section of your supermarket.

lemongrass and chilis for Thai Coconut Soup
Once you’ve gathered your Thai ingredients you’ll have them on hand for future recipes like my Spicy Thai Spaghetti Salad, and my Thai Beef Salad.

Thai Coconut Soup in a black bowl

If you’d like to make a vegan version of this soup, substitute vegetable broth for the chicken broth, Tamari sauce for the fish sauce, and tofu for the chicken.

Thai Coconut Soup in a black bowl with a sprig of cilantro

Reader Rave ~

This is the perfect soup for a gray winter’s day. Thanks for the lovely and luscious recipe :-)”  ~Amy

Thai Coconut Soup
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10 ratings

Category: Asian, Gluten Free, Healthy, Lunch, Mushrooms, Paleo, Soup, Take Out

Servings: serves 4

A bowl of steaming hot Thai Coconut Soup


  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 white onion, 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
  • 2 small hot peppers, sliced
  • 1 can coconut milk (DON'T use coconut creme...that's for cocktails)
  • 1 Tbsp chili paste
  • 1 Tbsp red curry paste
  • 2-3 Tbsp fish sauce
  • 2 cups cooked chicken
  • 1 head baby bok choy, sliced
  • a couple of handfuls of sliced mushrooms
  • handful of fresh cilantro, chopped
  • juice of 1 lime
  • salt to taste
  • minced red bell pepper for garnish (optional)


  1. Put the chicken stock and water 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.
  2. Add the coconut milk, pastes, fish sauce, chicken, mushrooms and bok choy. Let it simmer for another 15 minutes until the vegetables are just tender.
  3. Add the lime juice, cilantro and salt to taste. Remove the lemongrass and serve.


Thanks for pinning my Thai Coconut Soup!

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    Leave a Reply

  • Reply
    Donna L.
    February 6, 2019 at 4:50 pm

    Hi Sue – This looks delicious! I can’t find lemon grass in my area. Is there something else I can use (perhaps purchase online)? Thank you.

    • Reply
      February 6, 2019 at 5:14 pm

      Hi Donna! There are a lot of flavors going on in this soup, so if you have to leave out the lemongrass it won’t be a huge problem. You can also use lemongrass paste, which comes in a tube or a jar, and might be more available in the Asian section of your local large supermarket.

  • Reply
    February 21, 2014 at 5:41 am

    I just discovered your website and seriously loving it! It love Thai coconut soup and this one looks delicious. I buy the larger Thai chili pasts and freeze it in dollops of 1 tbsp. on aluminum foil, freeze it solid and then keep it in freezer bags…this way, you just thaw a dollop as you need it.. Hope this helps. Shelley

    • Reply
      February 21, 2014 at 6:55 am

      Welcome in Shelley — and thanks for the tip, I should do that with a lot of my more exotic Thai condiments!

    • Reply
      July 30, 2018 at 8:30 pm

      I love the freezing tip, Shelley, that’s so smart.

  • Reply
    Sarah (Snippets of Thyme)
    February 10, 2012 at 3:11 am

    We absolutely love this dish and you really made it look delicious in your photos! In fact, we need to get to our Thai Kitchen restaurant really soon…we can’t go long without Thai food.

  • Reply
    February 10, 2012 at 1:57 am

    This is the perfect soup for a gray winter’s day. Thanks for the lovely and luscious recipe :-)

  • Reply
    February 9, 2012 at 2:43 pm

    I must try this…it looks delicious and I love your photos of the finished soup and the ingredients…so pretty.

  • Reply
    Magnolia Verandah
    February 8, 2012 at 10:54 am

    I love Thai flavours whatever the region – one for my cooking journal in readiness for the cooler weather. Lovely!

  • Reply
    February 7, 2012 at 10:32 pm

    This comment has been removed by the author.

    • Reply
      February 7, 2012 at 10:33 pm

      Nice recipe! I just want to make a quick correction that Thai food is technically Southeast Asian food not “East Asian” as you stated in your post. East Asian food would hail from China, Korea, Japan, etc.

  • Reply
    A Trifle Rushed
    February 7, 2012 at 8:30 pm

    What a fantastic soup, perfect for winter. Lemongrass is widely available in UK supermarkets, ‘thai’ cooking is huge here!

  • Reply
    February 7, 2012 at 8:23 pm

    That is absolutely gorgeous soup! I’m not sure what to do with a recipe that does not include garlic though… I probably would have added it without even thinking about it!

  • Reply
    February 7, 2012 at 5:25 pm

    That looks yummy! I LOVE and cook Thai food on a regular basis. Living in Vancouver we are lucky enough to be able to get all the ingredients such as lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves easily.

  • Reply
    February 7, 2012 at 4:59 pm

    And it’s soooooo much fresher than anything you get at a Thai restaurant!

  • Reply
    From the Kitchen
    February 7, 2012 at 4:29 pm

    Yes, please, to anything in the Thai food area! We are fortunate to have a wonderful Thai restaurant nearby. There are also several Thai grocery stores. Thanks for another delicious recipe.


  • Reply
    February 7, 2012 at 4:27 pm

    What a delicious assortment of flavours! (I absolutely love coconut and curries…and food that makes my nose run.) :D

  • Reply
    February 7, 2012 at 3:05 pm

    I love Thai food, so this soup is right up my alley!

  • Reply
    February 7, 2012 at 3:01 pm

    Mmmm…I love these flavors! And I can’t go without at least one can of coconut milk in my pantry and a jar of Thai red curry paste in my fridge- love the stuff!

  • Reply
    Rebecca Subbiah
    February 7, 2012 at 2:53 pm

    love this soup