Tom Kha Soup (Thai Coconut Soup)

4.34 from 6 votes

Make Tom Kha Soup (Thai Coconut Soup) using my easy recipe. This flavorful soup is made using fragrant herbs, spices, and coconut milk and comes together quickly. You can make it with veggies, chicken, or shrimp too.

Here are some more Thai recipes that you may like: Chicken Pad Woon Sen Noodles, Thai Pumpkin Red Curry, Thai Red Curry, Vegan Pad Thai Noodles, and Thai Fried Rice.

Vegan Tom kha soup served in a bowl.
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About Tom Kha Soup

Tom means soup, and Kha means “galangal” in Thai. So, Tom Kha means soup with galangal.

It is a traditional Thai soup that typically features coconut milk, galangal, lemongrass, and kaffir lime leaves. This one-pot soup can also include chicken, shrimp, mushrooms, tomatoes, and other vegetables.

Tom Kha is often considered a healthier alternative to other Thai soups like tom yum due to its lower fat content. This soup is also relatively easy to make at home, making it a popular choice for home cooks.

Thai coconut soup has a complex and layered savory and sweet flavor. The coconut milk lends the tom kha soup richness and creaminess, while the galangal and lemongrass add depth of flavor. The kaffir lime leaves give it a subtle citrusy taste.

Rich and creamy yet tangy and salty, this soup recipe is light on the stomach but still fills you up for longer. The best part is that it has so many flavors dancing in your mouth, and the heavenly aroma can make you hungry instantly.

One serving of this soup has approximately 315 Calories. Tom Kha soup is also rich in minerals and vitamins. If you add noodles, the calories will increase per serving, but it will be filling.

This soup is naturally vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free, and paleo, and the recipe can be easily doubled or tripled.

Try my restaurant-quality Tom Kha recipe at home!

Ingredients

This creamy soup requires ingredients easily available in the Asian section of any grocery store (Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, etc), Asian market, or local Asian grocery store.

Coconut Milk – The base of tom kha is made with coconut milk, which makes it different from other soups. It makes the soup rich and creamy and gives it a distinct flavor.

I have used canned coconut milk, but you can use fresh, homemade coconut milk for a more authentic flavor.

If you can get your hands on coconut cream, it will make the soup creamier.

Vegetables – I have used only onions and button mushrooms. You can also use oysters or shiitake mushrooms. For a more intense flavor, use rehydrated dried mushrooms.

You can make this soup more nutritious by adding your favorite vegetables, such as carrots, broccoli, green beans, baby corn, bok choy, etc. Veggies like green onions, red bell peppers, yellow bell peppers, etc can also be added.

You can also add tofu to this coconut milk soup.

Galangal is another important ingredient in this recipe, which adds a significant taste.

Galangal root is a rhizome from the ginger family with a more peppery and pungent taste. If you can’t find fresh galangal, you can use ginger instead. 

Lemongrass and Kaffir Lime Leaves (Makrut Lime Leaves) – These two are my favorite ingredients! The taste of these two ingredients added to the soup is out of this world. So make sure you don’t miss them, especially lemon grass.

You will find it in the produce section or frozen in a tube in the freezer section. Use lime zest instead of kaffir lime leaves if you are not able to find them.

Thai Bird’s Eye Chilli – Adds spiciness to this soup. You can adjust the amount of these Thai chilies according to your taste. 

You can use spicy red chilies if you cannot find them.

Vegetable Broth – As coconut milk is thick and creamy, add vegetable broth to give it a soupy consistency. This adds flavor and enhances the soup’s taste.

Coconut Oil – Make it in coconut oil to enhance the flavor. But if it’s unavailable, you can use any cooking oil instead. 

Other Ingredients – You will also need garlic, freshly squeezed lime juice, and brown sugar (or palm sugar).

You can garnish the soup with fresh cilantro, lime wedges, red chilies, chili oil, etc.

How To Make Tom Kha Soup

Make The Broth

Heat 1 tablespoon coconut oil in a large pan or a Dutch oven over medium heat.

Coconut oil heating in a pan.

Once the oil is hot, add ½ cup sliced onions and 1 teaspoon chopped garlic and saute for a minute.

Onions and garlic added to the pan.

Add the following and bring the soup to a boil.

  • 3 lemongrass stalks (lightly crushed)
  • 2-3 inch piece of galangal (sliced), or ginger
  • 6-8 whole Thai red chilis
  • 2-3 kaffir lime leaves (roughly torn)
  • 4 cups of vegetable stock
Lemongrass, red chilies, kaffir lime and galangal to the pan.
Vegetable stock added to the pan.

Reduce the heat to low.

Cover the pan with a lid and let the soup simmer for 25-30 minutes.

Pan covered with a lid.

Using a strainer or a slotted spoon, remove the onions, lemongrass, galangal, kaffir leaves, and chilies.

Remove onions, red chilies, lemongrass, galangal and kaffir lime.

Make The Soup

Bring back the heat to medium.

Add 7 oz (200 g) of sliced button mushrooms to the pan and cook for 3-4 minutes.

Mushrooms added to the pan.

Add the following ingredients and bring the soup to a simmer, stirring frequently.

  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 2 cups of coconut milk

Garnish with cilantro, chopped red chilies, and lime wedges, and serve hot.

You can also drizzle some chili oil on top for a spicy kick.

Remaining ingredients added to the ready tom kha soup.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I make it in an instant pot?

To make this soup in an Instant Pot, press the SAUTE button.

Add coconut oil to the Instant Pot. Add onions and garlic and fry for a minute. Add all the ingredients except coconut milk, lime juice, and sugar to the Instant Pot. Close the lid and pressure cook on high for about 5 minutes. Once done, let the pressure release naturally. 

Open the lid. Using a strainer, remove the onions, lemongrass, galangal, kaffir leaves, and chilies. Add coconut milk, sugar, and lime juice, mix, and serve hot. 

Pro Tips By Neha

Thai bird’s eye chilies are very, very hot. Don’t try to bite into them.

You can also use oyster mushrooms. For a more intense flavor, use rehydrated dried mushrooms.

Smash the lemongrass stalk with the back of a knife and add it to the soup to release all its flavor. I also like to use lemongrass leaves wrapped in a bindle to flavor the soup instead of the stalk sometimes.

Variations

With Chicken – When this soup is made with chicken, it’s called Tom Kha Gai Soup (Thai Coconut Chicken Soup). To make this version, add boiled and shredded boneless chicken breasts or chicken thighs to the basic vegetarian soup recipe. You can also replace the vegetable broth with chicken broth (chicken stock). You can also add prawns to this soup instead of chicken. 

With Noodles – Make it into a full meal by adding some cooked noodles. I like adding rice vermicelli noodles, but you can add whichever ones are easily available.

To give the soup a spicy kick, add some red curry paste or green curry paste to it.

If veganism is not your concern, add a teaspoon of fish and soy sauce for an umami flavor.

A little shrimp paste is traditionally added to this Thai coconut soup recipe.

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Make Tom Kha Soup (Thai Coconut Soup) using my easy recipe. This flavorful soup is made using fragrant herbs, spices, and coconut milk and comes together in no time. You can make it with veggies, chicken, or shrimp too (vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free, paleo)
4.34 from 6 votes

Tom Kha Soup Recipe (Thai Coconut Soup)

Make Tom Kha Soup (Thai Coconut Soup) using my easy recipe. This flavorful soup is made using fragrant herbs, spices, and coconut milk and comes together in no time. You can make it with veggies, chicken, or shrimp too.
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 40 minutes
Total: 50 minutes
Servings: 4 people

Ingredients 

  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil (or any other cooking oil)
  • ½ cup sliced onions
  • 1 teaspoon chopped garlic
  • 3 lemongrass stalks (lightly crushed)
  • 2-3 inch piece of galangal (sliced, or ginger)
  • 6-8 whole Thai bird's eye chilies
  • 2-3 kaffir lime leaves (roughly torn)
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 7 ounces button mushrooms (200 g, thinly sliced)
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 2 cups coconut milk
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Instructions 

Make The Broth

  • Heat coconut oil in a pan over medium heat.
  • Once the oil is hot, add onions and garlic and saute for a minute.
  • Add lemongrass stalks, galangal, Thai red chilies, kaffir lime leaves, and vegetable stock, and bring the soup to a boil.
  • Reduce the heat to low.
  • Cover the pan with a lid and let the soup simmer for 25-30 minutes.
  • Using a strainer, remove the onions, lemongrass, galangal, kaffir leaves, and chilies.

Make The Soup

  • Bring back the heat to medium.
  • Add mushroom to the pan and cook for 3-4 minutes.
  • Add brown sugar, lime juice, and coconut milk, and bring the soup to a simmer, stirring frequently.
  • Garnish with cilantro, chopped red chilies, and lime wedges, and serve hot.
  • You can also drizzle some chili oil on top for a spicy kick.

Video

YouTube video

Notes

Thai bird’s eye chilies are very, very hot. Don’t try to bite into them.
Smash the lemongrass stalk with the back of a knife and add it to the soup to release all its flavor. I also like to use lemongrass leaves wrapped in a bindle to flavor the soup instead of the stalk sometimes.

Nutrition

Calories: 311kcal, Carbohydrates: 17g, Protein: 5g, Fat: 28g, Saturated Fat: 24g, Sodium: 1313mg, Potassium: 531mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 7g, Vitamin A: 501IU, Vitamin C: 7mg, Calcium: 32mg, Iron: 5mg
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