Thai Coconut Soup (tom kha)

Thai coconut soup in a bowl with spoon

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 in a green bowl

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.

Fresh chilis and lime for Thai Coconut Soup

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.

Coconut Milk for Thai Coconut Soup
fresh cilantro for Thai Coconut Soup

additional ingredient suggestions for Thai soup

  • chicken ~ feel free to use a rotisserie chicken for convenience
  • onions ~ regular onions or scallions
  • mushrooms
  • baby bok choy
  • pea pods
  • carrots
  • kale
  • bean sprouts
  • bell peppers
Thai Coconut Soup (Tom Kha) in a green bowl

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 in a bowl with spoon
Thai coconut soup in a bowl with spoon
4.41 from 44 votes

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.)
Course Soup
Cuisine Thai
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Yield 4 servings
Calories 369kcal
Author Sue Moran


  • 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
  • 1 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: 369kcal | Carbohydrates: 15g | Protein: 26g | Fat: 31g | Saturated Fat: 22g | Cholesterol: 60mg | Sodium: 411mg | Potassium: 692mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 635IU | Vitamin C: 4mg | Calcium: 44mg | Iron: 5mg
The nutritional information for recipes on this site is provided as a courtesy and although tries to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures are only estimates.
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  • Reply
    January 1, 2022 at 11:24 am

    5 stars
    We welcomed in 2022 with this delicious soup. Thanks Sue. I doubled the recipe and added chopped baby bok choy for the final few minutes. This is a delicious base for seafood too. It has great flavors! Really good.

  • Reply
    September 12, 2021 at 11:18 am

    5 stars
    This was absolutely delicious! I didn’t have red curry paste so I subbed with red chilli paste and it was amazing. I didn’t have small hot peppers so I swapped with some guindillas. Also added sweetcorn and red bell pepper before serving. My fiancé said it was incredible. Delish.

  • Reply
    January 21, 2021 at 4:13 pm

    5 stars
    Delicious! I substituted ingredients and it is still good.

    • Reply
      Chantel Chandler
      March 26, 2021 at 2:40 pm

      4 stars
      This recipe is delicious! Is there any way you can post the nutritional information, like the calories and stuff?

      • Reply
        Sue Moran
        March 26, 2021 at 2:54 pm

        I just added them for you, but remember, they’re just good estimates, the exact figures will depend on the ingredients you use.

  • Reply
    Amy Rushin
    January 8, 2021 at 5:25 pm

    5 stars
    I love this recipe!! I did go with a few of the suggested additional ingredients and it made it amazing! I added diced baby Bella mushrooms, thin sliced carrots, cooked chicken, and red bell pepper. Thanks for this great recipe.

  • Reply
    July 6, 2020 at 9:49 pm

    5 stars
    This recipe is so perfect in every way! Excited to make it for my family this week! Thanks for sharing!

  • Reply
    May 4, 2020 at 4:26 pm

    5 stars
    Howdy Sue, I’ve made this three times now with very minor ingredient variations but the core of the recipe is just a magnificent blending of the tastes of Asia into a solid family meal (& Thai food is my favourite Asian)! So there’s only one point I have – can you please change the ‘drab photo’ (in my humble opinion) of the end product right next to the recipe (the blue bowl) to the very first ‘vibrant-colourful’ photo in your recipe above (the green bowl), as I believe it is more WOW-inspiring and will get you ‘many more visits online’.

    P.S. I’m also loving your new ‘Jump to Recipe’ button, as I do a quick scan of the ingredients and complexity of the method – THEN realising that the recipe is within my skills and stocked pantry, I go back to the top of the page and enjoy very much reading your recipe blog story, tips and comments in detail as I pick up some of the finer points and suggestions plus the other area of each page that I like is the ‘Make this Your Own’ suggestions. Just loving your Recipes, Blogs, Photos and overwhelming positiveness in these difficult COVID times! Thanks Sue my daily Ray of Sunshine!

    • Reply
      May 4, 2020 at 5:23 pm

      I appreciate the comment Michael ~ I’m glad you like the jump to recipe button, 🙂 And I’ll change that featured image, good suggestion!

  • Reply
    February 23, 2020 at 4:43 pm

    Dark meat or breast? Which is more authentic, I mean?

    • Reply
      February 23, 2020 at 5:20 pm

      I usually see it made with white, but not sure if that’s more authentic or not ~ go with what you love!

  • Reply
    February 23, 2020 at 4:42 pm

    5 stars
    Thank you! We just moved, and I don’t know if there are asian markets here, but I have never seen lemon grass in any store, anywhere I have lived. Thanks for the viable substitute.

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