Best-Ever Tom Kha Gai Soup

tom kha soup recipe

his tom kha soup recipe (or Thai coconut chicken soup) is absolutely perfect. Rich and creamy yet tangy and salty, this Thai coconut chicken soup recipe is filling but light and positively bursting with flavor. The very best tom kha gai recipe I’ve ever made or tried. 


A plate of food on a table
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • ½ of one onion sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic chopped
  • ½ of one red jalapeno pepper sliced, or a couple Thai chiles, halved
  • 3 ¼-inch slices galangal or ginger
  • 1 lemongrass stalk pounded with the side of a knife and cut into 2-inch long pieces
  • 2 teaspoons red Thai curry paste
  • 4 cups chicken broth see Notes if vegan or on Whole30
  • 4 cups canned coconut cream or coconut milk see Notes
  • 2 medium chicken breasts cut into bite-sized pieces, see Notes for vegan/vegetarian or to use shrimp
  • 8 ounces white mushroom caps sliced
  • 1-2 tablespoons coconut sugar if on Whole30, see Notes
  • 1 ½ – 2 tablespoons fish sauce plus more to taste, see Notes if on Whole30 or vegan
  • 2-3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 2-3 green onions sliced thin
  • fresh cilantro chopped, for garnish


A bowl of food on a plate
  • In a medium pot, heat the coconut oil over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, jalapeno or chile, galangal or ginger, lemongrass, and red curry paste and cook, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes, or until onions are softened. Add chicken broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes.
  • Sauté aromatics then add chicken stock and simmer 
  • Strain out the aromatics (the garlic, onions, lemongrass, and ginger) and discard. Add in coconut cream or milk, chicken breast (or tofu or shrimp), and mushrooms. Simmer until chicken breast pieces are just cooked through, then add fish sauce, coconut aminos (or coconut sugar), and lime juice, plus more of each to taste. 
  • Simmer chicken, mushrooms, and coconut milk 
  • Cook 2 minutes, then ladle into serving bowls and top with sliced green onions and fresh cilantro.
  • Ladle into serving bowls and garnish 


  • Be sure to use coconut cream or coconut milk. Coco lopez and coconut creamer are not the same as coconut cream/coconut milk and will not work in this recipe.
  • To use shrimp, simply stir in 1 pound of raw shrimp instead of chicken. Simmer until just cooked through, pink, and no longer translucent. 
  • Make it Whole30: Use compliant chicken broth. Use 2 tablespoons coconut aminos instead of coconut sugar. Use Red Boat fish sauce – this is the only fish sauce I’ve found to be compliant.
  • Make it Vegan/Vegetarian: Use vegetable stock, preferably an Asian variety. Use a 1-pound block of firm or extra firm tofu (regular or silken) cut into bite-sized cubes. For vegan, use soy sauce (to taste) instead of fish sauce.

Making This Tom Kha Soup Vegan

  • Use vegetable broth instead of chicken broth.
  • Substitute soy sauce for the fish sauce.
  • Add a 1-pound block of tofu, cubed into bite-sized pieces, instead of chicken.

And you won’t call it “tom kha gai,” if you don’t use chicken. You can call it “tom kha tofu”!

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