Chicken Coconut Soup (Tom Kha Gai)

Updated: Dec 9, 2018

In Thailand, tom kha gai is eaten more like a curry instead of a soup, paired with a plate of rice and spooned onto your rice before eating it. If you are looking for an authentic recipe, you are not in the right place. I can refer you over to the Kitchn for something more involved. My recipe for Thai Chicken Coconut Soup is full of shortcuts but produces a silky and aromatic soup that is a complete meal in a bowl.

I don't want the daunting task of tracking down galangal, lemongrass, and limes leaves. I personally prefer the Thai Kitchen Green Curry Paste that comes in a 4 ounce jar for just a couple of dollars. I can make this in 20 minutes flat using the basic recipe below. When I have an extra 10-15 minutes I use the "kicked up" recipe.


Basic Quick Recipe

1 tablespoon olive oil (I like California Olive Ranch evoo)

1 jar curry paste (I like Thai Kitchen Green Curry Paste)

3 cups chicken stock (I like Better than Bouillon Chicken paste mixed with water or homemade)

1 can coconut milk (I like Goya regular coconut milk)

2 cups shredded chicken (I like to buy a rotisserie chicken)


In a Dutch oven or large saucepan heat the olive oil over medium high heat and add the curry paste. Mash and stir to warm up the paste, then add the chicken stock. Turn up the heat and bring to a simmer, stirring to blend the stock and the paste. Once the soup begins to simmer, turn heat to low and add the coconut milk and chicken. Stir to combine, let this heat through and serve.


Optional "kick it up a notch" ideas

1 rotisserie chicken

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 onion, chopped

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 inch piece fresh ginger, minced

1 jar Thai Kitchen Green Curry Paste

3 cups chicken stock (See Chicken and stock note below)

1 can coconut milk

1 teaspoon fish sauce

1 tablespoon Huy Fong Chili Garlic Sauce (add to taste)

1 lime

fresh cilantro


Chicken and stock

I like to pick the pretty meat off the chicken and then use what remains to make bone broth. Put the shredded chicken in a zip top bag and place in the fridge. Put the remaining chicken and bones into a pressure cooker and fill with water plus any veggie scraps you may have. It's best to add a whole onion, carrots, garlic, along with a heavy pinch of salt and pepper. Turn the pressure to high and let them cook anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour. Once complete, pour though a fine mesh sieve and discard the solids. What is left is glorious bone broth and I love to use this homemade stock in soups. Read more on this topic in the Homemade Stock post.


Kicked up soup with shortcuts

In a Dutch oven or large saucepan heat the olive oil over medium high heat and add the chopped onion and allow it to become translucent and soft. Add the garlic and ginger next and sweat these for five more minutes.


Add the curry paste next and stir this around until it heats through. Add the bone broth next and bring to a simmer, stirring to blend the stock and the paste.


I like to take an immersion blender to the soup at this point to blend the veggies into the soup.


Turn the heat to low and add the coconut milk and chicken. Now is when you can season to taste with fish sauce, chili paste, fresh lime juice and cilantro.


© 2018 by Mandy Begley | Leander, Texas

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