Skip to content

Thai Coconut Chicken Soup (Tom Kha Gai)

September 18, 2010

This Thai Coconut Chicken Soup would not be considered an authentic recipe for Tom Kha Gai, but I think it succeeds in delivering the flavors of the Thai soup using ingredients that are readily available for most people.

The inspiration for this recipe came from one that I found on; it is credited to Sue Ellison and originally appeared in Bon Appétit.

I decided not to use curry powder and I added ginger, garlic, mushrooms, and fish sauce (nam pla). I was aiming for a soup that would be similar to one we used to get at Thai Thai, our favorite Thai restaurant which, sadly, closed last year.

I used chicken breasts, but I think you could use boneless skinless chicken thighs for this recipe if you prefer.

Bob and I agreed that this turned out pretty darn good. It’s definitely something I would make again, but I may play around with it some more.



Thai Coconut Chicken Soup

(Inspired by a Bon Appétit recipe found on


(print the recipe)


4 Main dish servings


Note: If you can get galangal root, use it instead of the ginger for a more authentic Tom Kha Gai. (“Tom Kha” means galangal, and “Gai” means chicken.) Use a piece that is about 1½ inches long and slice it into thin discs. This was quite tasty, though, made with the ginger.



2 (14.5 ounce) cans chicken broth

1 (13.5 ounce) can coconut milk

1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced

1 tablespoon minced ginger

1 large or 2 small cloves garlic, minced

1½ pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts (or thighs)

1½ cups sliced mushrooms

3 tablespoons fresh lime juice (from 1 large or 2 small limes)

4 tablespoons fish sauce (less if your fish sauce is particularly pungent)

Salt, if necessary (will depend on the saltiness of the fish sauce and the broth)



2 – 3 chopped green onions

¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro

1 – 2 jalapeno peppers, sliced


One jalapeno pepper sliced for garnish. (This was the right amount for Bob.)

1. Bring the chicken broth, coconut milk, minced jalapeno pepper, ginger, and garlic to a boil. Simmer for about 10 minutes.


2. Cut the chicken into small pieces.


3. Add the chicken and mushrooms to the simmering broth. Bring back to a boil, and then reduce the heat so it’s at a low simmer. Simmer for about 10 minutes, until the chicken is done.

4. Add the lime juice and fish sauce. Simmer for about a minute more. Taste for seasoning; add a bit of salt, if necessary. (I added about ½ teaspoon.)

5. Garnish with green onions and cilantro.

6. Serve sliced jalapeno peppers separately for those who want to add them to their soup.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. Laura permalink
    September 18, 2010 9:29 am

    Oooh that does look like the soup from Thai Thai!! I’ll have to try this…

  2. September 18, 2010 5:57 pm

    sounds like a wonderful soup recipe! I have never had Thai soups, but yours does look delicious! I need to try more soups like this for my girls, what a great way to expand their food knowledge!
    thanks for sharing!

    • September 21, 2010 2:33 pm

      I’ll bet your girls would enjoy Thai soups! Thanks for your comment, Dennis.

  3. September 19, 2010 7:17 am

    wow… tempting…

  4. September 19, 2010 12:44 pm

    Being a person who is from SE Asia, I do enjoy the Thai food as well. My fave of Thai foods is Tom Yum Goong. Btw, I love the colour of your spoon.

    • September 21, 2010 2:40 pm

      I had to look up “Tom Yum Goong”, Pepe! (I’m not very good at the Thai names.) It’s a hot and sour type soup with shrimp, right? I like that one, too. I might have to try making it sometime. Thanks for your comment!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: