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.
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
- 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.