Aug 27

Summer Spice–Tom Khai Gai

in Fuji Favorites, Recipes By Region, Recipes by Type, Soup & Stew, Thai

For some reason the hot weather has been making me crave hot ‘n spicy food even more than I normally do. What better way to fill that craving than with Tom Kha Gai, a spicy Thai coconut chicken soup? I found a great recipe that fit the bill.
The soup came together quickly and was in the pot simmering away in no time. The aromas wafting up from the pot and through the kitchen transported me back to my trips around Thailand…mmmmm…. Healthy, creamy, flavorful, and addicting, this soup is a summer winner, especially if you have any basil growing in your summer garden.

[UPDATE] Note about authenticity: Someone recently pointed out that this recipe is not authentic, because Tom Khai Gai requires kaffir lime leaves as an aromatic.  Strictly speaking, this is correct.  Tom Kha Gai is a soup made of chicken (Gai) cooked (Tom) in coconut milk which has been infused with galangal (Kha), lemongrass, and kaffir lime leaves.  However, don’t let this deter you from not making it!!  I don’t have easy access to galangal or kaffir lime leaves, but I still make this soup frequently, because it is delicious, despite being less than authentic.  Make due with what you have access to!

Print This Recipe Print This Recipe

Tom Khai Gai (Thai Coconut Chicken Soup)

Makes 6 servings

Adapted from Coconut Chicken Soup recipe on

2 14-ounce cans light unsweetened coconut milk
3 cups chicken broth
2 cups thinly sliced crimini mushrooms (or whatever mushrooms you prefer)
6 tablespoons finely chopped lemongrass
1/4 cup fish sauce (nam pla)
2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
1 Serrano chili, sliced into rounds (I used 2 chilies for extra spice)
2 to 3 teaspoons chili-garlic sauce (use more for extra heat)
8 skinless boneless chicken thighs, thinly sliced
1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions
1/4 cup thinly sliced basil
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice

1. Combine the coconut milk, chicken broth, mushrooms, lemongrass, fish sauce, ginger, Serrano chili, and chili-garlic sauce in a large saucepan.

2. Heat the mixture over medium high heat. When it begins to boil, reduce the heat and cover the pot and allow it to simmer for 10 minutes, so that the flavors blend.

3. Add the chicken, and continue to let the soup simmer until the chicken is cooked through, about 5 minutes.

4. Mix in the green onions, basil and lime juice. Serve!

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Neal August 28, 2008 at 8:07 am

oh, that looks pretty good. I might have to either figure out how to make that myself or convince Jackie to. :)


nobu August 28, 2008 at 10:02 am

I rarely have spiciy soup.
But it looks delicious, and I think it has nice flavor.
By the way, do you like Ramune soda?
I hope you check my article of Ramune.
Funabashi Daily Cell Phone Photo


Goldie September 13, 2008 at 2:38 pm

I love that soup! I’ve made it but it never tastes the way I like it in the restaurants, and it’s probably because my husband thinks if I use the nampla sauce it will smell too fishy. Does it? I hope your answer is no. Anyways, I’ll buy the sauce and see if he notices a fishy smell. I have coconut milk, fresh basil and tofu. I’m set!!


Goldie September 21, 2008 at 10:46 pm

Okay, I made the soup tonight and my husband and guests LOVED it! I loved it as well and was so pleased how flavorful it was. Just as it should be. Thank you for the best recipe. :)


Jennifer September 22, 2010 at 9:09 am

Is there a thai soup that is red and spicy? Do you know much about korean food? Maybe it was a korean soup.


richard January 20, 2013 at 10:52 am

this is not authentic at all. tom kha gai must have kaffir lime leaf as a aromatic.


Fuji Mama (Rachael) January 20, 2013 at 1:28 pm

@richard — Yep, you’re right! I also didn’t use galangal, which is also used in a truly authentic version. But, we cook with what we have, right? But to clarify, I’ve added a note in the post. Thanks!


Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: