Tom Kha Gai: Thai Coconut Chicken Soup
I remember being introduced to Thai food at a very young age, in Fresno, CA. I was about 10 years old and my uncle suggested this radical new taste sensation to my parents. It's like Chinese, but ... different! We ventured into this small plain restaurant called "The Thai House". I just remember the simple wood paneling and tourism posters for "Thailand!" We ordered a nice variety of dishes and were BLOWN AWAY!
The flavors were strong, but bright. Complex, but clean. Spicy, but worth every painful nibble!
I remember the first taste of Tom Kha Gai. I remember thinking, "That soup is weird looking. It's white!" Oh, but the flavor! Spicy, a little sweet and a little sour, with tender morsels of gingery chicken floating around the creamy looking white broth. This recipe has always taken me back to that moment!
This makes about 4 very nice sized dinner sized portions, or 8 smaller side soups.
Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time1 hr
Total Time1 hr 30 mins
Servings: 8 Servings
- 4 cups chicken stock or broth
- 1 1/2 lb whole boneless/skinless chicken breasts (or equivalent thigh meat)
- 1 3-inch piece of galangal (Thai Ginger - ginger is an acceptable substitute) peeled and sliced into 8 chunks (nutrition set to 0 ... will be strained out)
- 1 each lemongrass stalk 1/2-inch rough chop (nutrition set to 0 ... will be strained out)
- 10 each fresh kaffir lime leaves rough chop (lime zest is an acceptable substitute - nutrition set to 0 ... will be strained out)
- 4 each red thai chilies rough chop (nutrition set to 0 ... will be strained out)
- 2 small red bell peppers 1/2-inch dice
- 1 lb cremini (portobello (gills removed) oyster or button) mushrooms, washed and sliced into little wedges
- 2 each 13.5-ounce cans coconut milk
- 1 tbsp 'Swerve' or other sugar replacement
- 1/4 cup lime juice freshly squeezed
- 1/4 cup fish sauce
- 1/2 bunch cilantro washed and stems removed
- 1/2 bunch Thai basil washed and stems removed
In a soup pot, add chicken stock, chicken, galangal (regular ginger, if you can't find the Thai variety), lemongrass, Kaffir Lime Leaves (use lime zest, if you can't find lime leaves) and Thai Chilies. Over medium heat, bring the soup base to a boil
Once it starts to boil, reduce the temperature and allow the soup to simmer for about 45 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked. The chicken should be soft and tear easily with a fork, but not dry.
Remove the chicken from the broth and cut it, or tear it into nice large chunks. Set aside in a warm place.
Strain the broth, to remove all the remaining ingredients. You should have only the flavored broth. Return this to the stove and discard the strained ingredients. (some will skip this step for a more authentic and rustic soup)
Add the raw bell peppers and mushrooms and bring the soup back to a simmer. Simmer with the vegetables for about 10 minutes, or until mushrooms are cooked through (they'll sit lower in the soup and won't float as aggressively).
Add the chicken, coconut milk, sugar equivalent (optional, I like mine a little on the sweet side), fish sauce and freshly squeezed lime juice to the soup. DO NOT BOIL the soup, as it will do funky things to the coconut milk.
Bring to JUST below simmering. Then, throw in the fresh cilantro and Thai basil. Quickly stir and serve, while the herbs are still green and fresh!
Serving: 8g | Calories: 369.1025kcal | Carbohydrates: 8.25625g | Protein: 23.70125g | Fat: 27.93375g | Fiber: 1.3325g