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Easy tom kha soup recipe [ Thai Coconut shrimp/chicken soup]

by wsg team

Easy tom kha soup recipe

Tom Kha is a delightful Thai coconut soup that’s creamy, tangy, and aromatic. Below you’ll find a simple recipe to make this comforting yummy dish at home with either shrimp or chicken. I like it so much and it brings that extra coziness to cold winter days and nights.

I’ll never forget the first time I tried making Tom Kha Soup at home. I once tried to wow my date by whipping up Tom Kha Soup in my cramped apartment kitchen. Armed with a bunch of weird spices I’d never used before and a stubborn determination to nail it, I ended up making a bowl that not only reminded me of Thailand but also got me hooked on experimenting with flavors from around the world.

And lets just say he liked the soup quite a lot.

Tom Kha Kai, another Thai favorite of mine, is a variation of the famous Tom Yum Goong soup and features a rich broth made with coconut milk and infused with Galangal. This soup offers a delightful balance of lemony flavors without being too acidic—a true explosion of taste sensations.

Tom Kha (in Thai: ต้มข่า) means “galangal soup”, Tom = Broth and Kha = Galangal, Kai = chicken.

English speakers often write it as – Tom kha Gai.

Galangal is a rhizome plant of the Zingiberaceae family like ginger.

The Galangal rhizome is widely used in Thai cuisine, it is a medicinal plant that has aphrodisiac, digestive and anti-virus properties.

This thai coconut soup is called tom “kha” or “khaa” because of its galangal ingredient, but do you have to always use galangal to make it authentic?

Well, traditionally, Thai coconut soups like Tom Kha Kai (Chicken Coconut Soup) often include galangal as a key ingredient. Galangal, with its unique citrusy and slightly spicy flavor, is one of the defining elements of Tom Kha soup. It contributes significantly to the soup’s aromatic profile and adds depth to its flavor.

However, variations of this coconut soup can be found where galangal might be substituted or omitted based on regional preferences or personal taste. Some recipes may use ginger as a substitute for galangal, especially in places where galangal is not readily available. Additionally, some cooks may omit galangal entirely and focus more on other aromatic ingredients like lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves.

In essence, while galangal is a common ingredient in traditional Thai coconut soups, variations exist depending on the recipe and the chef’s preferences.

 

Now, here’s the recipe.

Easy tom kha soup recipe [ Thai Coconut shrimp/chicken soup]

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Ingredients
  

  • 1 can 13.5 oz coconut milk
  • 2 cups chicken broth or vegetable broth for vegetarian version
  • 1-2 stalks lemongrass cut into 2-inch pieces and smashed
  • 4-5 slices fresh galangal or ginger
  • 3-4 kaffir lime leaves torn into pieces
  • 1-2 Thai bird’s eye chilies smashed (adjust to taste)
  • 200 g about 7 oz shrimp (peeled and deveined) or chicken breast, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 cup mushrooms straw, button, or oyster, sliced
  • 1 small tomato cut into wedges
  • 1 small onion or 2-3 shallots sliced
  • 2-3 tablespoons fish sauce or soy sauce for vegetarian version
  • 1-2 tablespoons lime juice adjust to taste
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • Fresh cilantro and green onions chopped (for garnish)

Instructions
 

  • Prepare the Base:
  • In a large pot, bring coconut milk and chicken broth to a gentle boil over medium heat.
  • Add Aromatics:
  • Add lemongrass, galangal (or ginger), kaffir lime leaves, and Thai chilies. Simmer for 5 minutes to infuse flavors.
  • Cook the Protein:
  • Add chicken if using, cook until done (5-7 minutes). For shrimp, add with vegetables for last few minutes of cooking.
  • Add Vegetables:
  • Include mushrooms, tomato, and onion (or shallots). Cook for additional 5 minutes until tender and shrimp are pink.
  • Season the Soup:
  • Stir in fish sauce (or soy sauce), lime juice, and sugar. Adjust seasoning to taste.
  • Serve:
  • Remove lemongrass, galangal, and kaffir lime leaves. Ladle into bowls, garnish with cilantro and green onions.
  • Enjoy:
  • Serve hot as is or with steamed jasmine rice on the side.

Ingredients you’ll need

  • 1 can (13.5 oz) coconut milk
  • 2 cups chicken broth (or vegetable broth for a vegetarian version)
  • 1-2 stalks lemongrass, cut into 2-inch pieces and smashed
  • 4-5 slices fresh galangal (or ginger if you can’t find galangal)
  • 3-4 kaffir lime leaves, torn into pieces
  • 1-2 Thai bird’s eye chilies, smashed (adjust to taste)
  • 200g (about 7 oz) shrimp (peeled and deveined) or chicken breast, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 cup mushrooms (straw mushrooms, button mushrooms, or oyster mushrooms), sliced
  • 1 small tomato, cut into wedges
  • 1 small onion or 2-3 shallots, sliced
  • 2-3 tablespoons fish sauce (or soy sauce for a vegetarian version)
  • 1-2 tablespoons lime juice (adjust to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • Fresh cilantro and green onions, chopped (for garnish)

Instructions

Prepare the Base:

1. In a large pot, combine the coconut milk and chicken broth. Bring to a gentle boil over medium heat.

Add Aromatics:

2. Add the lemongrass, galangal, kaffir lime leaves, and chilies to the pot. Let these ingredients simmer for about 5 minutes to infuse the broth with their flavors.

Cook the Protein:

3. If using chicken, add the chicken pieces to the pot and cook until fully cooked through, about 5-7 minutes. If using shrimp, add them later with the vegetables as they cook faster.

Add Vegetables:

4. Add the mushrooms, tomato, and onion (or shallots). If using shrimp, add them now. Cook for another 5 minutes until the vegetables are tender and the shrimp are pink and cooked through.

Season the Soup:

5. Stir in the fish sauce (or soy sauce), lime juice, and sugar. Taste the soup and adjust the seasoning if needed, adding more fish sauce, lime juice, or sugar to balance the flavors.

Serve:

6. Remove the lemongrass, galangal, and kaffir lime leaves before serving (or leave them in for presentation, reminding guests not to eat them).

7. Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with fresh cilantro and green onions.

Enjoy:

8. Serve the soup hot, on its own or with a side of steamed jasmine rice.

Variations and Ingredient Substitutions:

  • Lemongrass: If fresh lemongrass isn’t available, use lemongrass paste found in the Asian section of most grocery stores.
  • Galangal: While galangal adds a unique flavor, ginger can be substituted if needed.
  • Kaffir Lime Leaves: If unavailable, use a small amount of lime zest for a citrusy hint.
  • Protein Options: Besides shrimp or chicken, tofu or fish can be used.
  • Vegetarian/Vegan Options: Replace chicken broth with vegetable broth and use tofu, soy sauce and/or additional vegetables instead of shrimp or chicken.
  • Seafood Variation: Mix shrimp, squid, and mussels for a seafood medley.
  • Spice Levels: Adjust the amount of Thai chilies to customize spiciness to personal preference.
  • Creaminess: Experiment with coconut cream instead of coconut milk for a richer texture.
  • Thai Bird’s Eye Chilies: Substitute with another type of fresh chili pepper based on your preferred spice level.
  • Mushrooms: Experiment with different types such as shiitake or cremini for varied textures and flavors.

Cooking Techniques:

  • Infusing Flavors: For a stronger aroma, lightly crush lemongrass, galangal, and kaffir lime leaves before adding them to the soup.
  • Simmering: Allow the soup to gently simmer after adding ingredients to meld flavors thoroughly without overcooking seafood or chicken.

Presentation Tips:

  • Garnishes: Use fresh cilantro, Thai basil, or mint leaves for additional aroma and visual appeal.
  • Soup Bowls: Serve in traditional Thai soup bowls or coconut shells for an authentic presentation.

Serving Suggestions:

  • Accompaniments: Serve with steamed jasmine rice or noodles for a more substantial meal.
  • Side Dishes: Pair with Thai appetizers like spring rolls or Thai salads for a complete Thai dining experience.

tom kha soup served with brow rice side

Cooking and Storing Tips

  • Preparation: Tom Kha Soup can be prepared ahead of time and reheated gently before serving.
  • Storage: Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days.
  • Freezing: Freeze the soup (without seafood) for up to 2-3 months; add fresh seafood when reheating.

This easy Tom Kha Soup recipe will surely bring the authentic flavors of Thai cuisine to your kitchen. Whether you’re a novice cook or a seasoned chef, enjoy exploring the rich flavors of Thailand with every comforting spoonful of this delightful comforting soup!

tom-kha-kai-soup-on-table

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