Tom Kha Gai

Tom Kha GaiTom Kha Gai soup is a Thai classic, and one of our all-time favorite soups! It is a soup with chicken cooked in a broth of coconut milk that has been infused with the flavors from lemongrass, galangal and kaffir lime leaves.

Despite how much we like it, I’ve never tried making it at home before. I think I had convinced myself that there was no way I would be able to even come close to getting an authentic flavor. But provided you have the right (authentic) ingredients, Tom Kha Gai is surprisingly easy and very tasty to make at home. I even had to make a couple substitutions (I couldn’t find galangal or kaffir lime leaves) and it still tasted amazingly good, but next time I’m going to make the effort to track down all of the authentic ingredients so that I can see just how much more amazing it can taste!

So don’t hesitate anymore about making your own Tom Kha Gai at home, it’s very easy and so good!

I got a little help from the following links on how to make this wonderful soup:
Tom Kha Gai Recipe – A Tutorial for Beginners by She Simmers
Thai Chicken Coconut Soup by Steamy Kitchen

Tom Kha Gai

3 cups chicken broth
1 can coconut milk
1 ½ inch (approx.) piece of galangal, cut into thin slices (about ¼ inch)*
4 kaffir lime leaves, torn**
1 stem lemongrass, sliced lengthwise and cut into 3-4 pieces
1 or more chili peppers (of your choice, although bird’s eye is most commonly used), seeded and sliced
2 tablespoons fish sauce (or to taste)
2-3 tablespoons lime juice (or to taste)
5 medium button mushrooms, sliced (straw mushrooms are more authentic, but definitely not essential)
1 chicken breast (approx. ½ pound), thinly sliced (easier to slice while still partially frozen)
½ teaspoon palm sugar (optional)
Fresh chopped cilantro for garnish

1. Place the chicken broth, coconut milk, galangal slices, kaffir lime leaves, lemon grass and chili into a large pot. Bring to a gentle simmer, and simmer for 15-20 minutes.
2. Add fish sauce and lime juice to taste (I found 2 tablespoons of each worked perfectly for us).
3. Add the mushrooms and chicken. Simmer for about 5 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through.
4. Taste and adjust fish sauce/lemon juice to taste, and add sugar if desired.
5. To serve, garnish each bowl with freshly chopped cilantro.

Notes:
* My local supermarket doesn’t carry galangal, so I substituted with ginger, which is ok, but doesn’t provide quite the same authenticity of flavor. Next time I will source galangal from an Asian Grocery.
**I was not able to find kaffir lime leaves. The recommended substitution is the same number of thick strips of lime peel (each piece about 2×1 inches in size), but if you can get kaffir lime leaves I think it would be worth it.

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24 Comment

  1. I LOVE this soup. For anyone unsure, it does take a tasting or two because it’s not a flavor combination our Western palates would generally know. But it quickly becomes addictive!

    1. Debbie says: Reply

      I’ve loved this soup for so long that I can’t ever remember acquiring a taste for it! But you’re probably right, it does have a very distinctive flavor.

  2. I pinned this to my must try recipes. I love this soup. Please share it on my foodie friday linky this week.

    1. Debbie says: Reply

      Thanks Diane, I definitely will!

      1. Can’t wait to see what you share next week… I like your taste in food.

  3. You can find galangal at Oliver’s Market in Santa Rosa and Cotati – we just bought some for this recipe!! Great to know about the substitution for the lime leaves. Almost bought a kaffir lime tree last year just for the leaves, lol!

    1. Debbie says: Reply

      Oh perfect, thanks Tiffani! I need to head on over to Oliver’s for a few things. I want desperately to make this soup again because it was so good, so I’ll plan to pick some up.

  4. […] to my RSS feed. Thanks for visiting!Yesterday at dinnertime I had two recipes bookmarked:  one for Tom Kha Gai (a Thai soup made with coconut milk and lime) and another for Cauliflower Curry Soup.  I ended up […]

  5. Ok, I’ve never heard of galangal or kaffir limes, and I had no idea you could eat the leaves, but this sounds amazing. Fish sauce and coconut milk – yum! We have a huge Asian market here, so I bet I could find the rest there! Looks so good!

    1. Debbie says: Reply

      I don’t think you eat the leaves, I think they’re more for flavor, but the flavors in this soup are amazing! You’re so lucky to live near a huge Asian market!

  6. Good Morning Debbie,
    I can’t wait to try this awesome recipe, this looks like a beautiful soup! Hope you have a fabulous week end and thank you so much for sharing with Full Plate Thursday.
    Come Back Soon!
    Miz Helen

  7. mjskit says: Reply

    Oh I love this soup! I always order it but have never made it, so thanks for posting this recipe! Have a great weekend!

    1. Debbie says: Reply

      Thanks MJ! If you try making it, I would highly recommend sourcing all of the proper ingredients – I think the lemongrass, galangal and kaffir lime leaves are all needed to give this dish it’s distinctive and delicious flavor.

  8. I love Thai food but don’t eat a ton of Thai soup. This looks soooo good. Coconut milk, kaffir leaf….yum. Thanks for coming by and sharing it at Whole Food Wednesdays.

    1. Debbie says: Reply

      Thanks France 🙂 I always look forward to seeing what wonderful creation you have come up with for Whole Food Wednesday!

  9. I love Thai flavors and this looks wonderful. Thanks for sharing it with Souper Sundays at Kahakai Kitchen. 😉

  10. Thank you for your submission on Nourishing Treasures’ Make Your Own! Monday link-up.

    Check back later tonight when the new link-up is running to see if you were one of the top 3 featured posts! 🙂

  11. Jane says: Reply

    Re: Kefir lime leaves – my husband bought a Kefir lime tree just to use the leaves in cooking. We keep it in a planter so we can bring it in to the house during the North Carolina winter months. All the leaves fall off annually and grow right back. Worth it!

    1. Debbie says: Reply

      That’s a good idea….I might look out for one!

  12. Laura says: Reply

    This soup looks absolutely delicious. I love Thai food and this is a soup that would be a hit with my whole family.

    Thank you so much for sharing your great recipe on Allergy-Free Wednesdays! Be sure to check back next week for recipe highlights (including the top 3 reader choice submissions and hostess favorites).

    Be Well!

  13. Simona says: Reply

    This is the second time I see a reference to this soup in a few days: I suspect it means something, especially if I take into account the fact that my husband loves soup with chicken. A very nice recipe and an interesting suggestion.

    1. Debbie says: Reply

      Hi Simona, it sounds like you are meant to make this soup! It has a different taste to what many people are used to, but if you’re familiar with and enjoy the flavors of Thai cuisine, you will like it!

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