Thai Chicken Coconut Soup (Tom Kha Gai)

Thai Chicken Coconut Soup (Tom Kha Gai)

I’ve been in a Thai food mood lately, as evidenced by last month’s Green Papaya Salad recipe. The flavors that are ubiquitous in Thai cooking – namely coconut, fish sauce, lemongrass, and lime – make for excellent summer eating.

Tom Kha Gai is a soup that often takes a backseat to its hot-and-sour sibling, Tom Yum. Both share several ingredients, but today’s recipe also contains coconut milk, which gives the soup a smooth flavor and tends to be a bit more filling, too. I first developed this recipe in partnership with my friends Brent and Heather for their blog, That Paleo Couple, and liked the results so much that I added a tweaked version to Paleo Takeout in 2015. The recipe you find below is what appeared in the book.

As its translated name (“Chicken Galangal Soup”) implies, this soup is best experienced with galangal, a rhizome (underground root) that is most similar to ginger. Ginger will work in a pinch, but consider buying dried galangal if you don’t have access to the fresh variety; dried galangal keeps well and works great in soups like this Tom Kha Gai. Same goes for kaffir lime leaves, which are easily reconstituted in warm water.

Thai Chicken Coconut Soup - Tom Kha Gai (Gluten-free, Paleo, Primal, Whole30)Servings: 4 as a side, 2 as a main

Time: 35 mins

Difficulty: Easy

Soup Base:


  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 2 cups water
  • 6 fresh or dried kaffir lime leaves, roughly torn, or grated zest of 1 lime
  • 2 stalks lemongrass, white parts only, thinly sliced
  • 2 inches galangal or ginger, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 1 lb total), thinly sliced
  • 1 (14 oz) can full-fat coconut milk
  • 6 oz mushrooms (straw, enoki, shiitake, oyster, or white; see note below)
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 tsp coconut palm sugar or honey (optional)
Read the whole recipe on The Domestic Man