Coconut Soup with Chicken (Tom Kha Kai)

This dish is the most popular soup in Thai restaurants throughout the world. It can be made with different meats or just vegetables, depending on your preference.

Serves: 4Hands-on: 20 minutesTotal: 25 minutesDifficulty: Medium

Serves: 4


  • 3 Tbsp. fish sauce or soy sauce
  • 4 Tbsp. lime juice
  • 2 tsp. minced Thai chilies (or more for spicier soup)
  • 1 Tbsp. cilantro leaves
  • 1 stalk lemongrass, cut into 1½" pieces
  • 1 shallot, cut in half and mashed
  • 8 slices galangal
  • 2 Thai chilies
  • 1 can chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 can (13.5 oz.) coconut milk
  • 3 kaffir lime leaves, torn in fourths
  • 8 oz. chicken breast, cubed, or 1 cup fried tofu cubes
  • 5 oz. oyster or button mushrooms
  • ½–1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. palm sugar


  • Mix all sauce ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.
  • Slightly bruise lemongrass, shallot, galangal, and chilies using a pestle or meat tenderizer.
  • In a saucepan, combine stock with coconut milk. Bring to boil. Add lemongrass mixture and lime leaves to the boiling stock. Simmer over low heat for 3–4 minutes.
  • Add chicken, turn the heat back up, and bring back to simmer. One minute later add mushrooms. Turn down the heat and continue to simmer until chicken is cooked, about 4–5 minutes over low heat. Season with salt and sugar to taste. Turn off the heat.
  • Add the sauce to the hot soup and serve.