This blog post, recipe and pictures were prepared by Rebekah Klewicki, Virginia Tech, Class of 2022, B.S. in Human Nutrition, Foods and Exercise, Dietetics Concentration
Tom kha gai is a traditional Thai soup consisting of mushrooms and chicken cooked in a creamy coconut broth.
It’s full of flavor and perfect for cold winter days. This recipe, while not perfectly traditional, requires mostly pantry staples that you’re likely to have on hand. The few ingredients that are a bit more authentic aren’t too hard to find and can also be substituted out.
This meal is flavorful, quick and easy to make, and provides nutrients like B vitamins, Vitamin D, and minerals like iron and manganese.
Red curry paste – This includes some of the harder to find ingredients traditional to tom kha gai like lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves in an easy-to-use paste. I recommend the brand Thai Kitchen, which usually isn’t too hard to find. However, if you want to omit it, increase the amount of ginger to 2 tbsp and the garlic to 3 cloves. Add 1 tsp of chili powder if you want to keep the red/orange color.
Chicken – This soup is traditionally made with chicken, but also works well with shrimp or tofu. If using shrimp or tofu, add them in about 10 minutes before the soup is done to avoid overcooking.
Lemongrass – This brings a traditional flavor to the soup, and can generally be found in the produce section with other packaged herbs. You can sometimes also find it in a paste, which is convenient and does not require removing the lemongrass stalk at the end.
Fish sauce – This is very traditional to Thai and other Asian cuisines, and has a unique fermented, salty flavor. However, it can sometimes be difficult to find. Soy sauce is a good alternative.
Tom kha Soup
- 1 tablespoon oil
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1½ tablespoons ginger, minced
- 1 tablespoon red curry paste
- ⅛ teaspoon red pepper flakes more if you like it spicy
- ½ onion, thinly sliced
- 1 pound boneless skinless chicken, cut into bite sized pieces
- 2 13½ ounce cans light coconut milk
- 4 cups low sodium vegetable broth
- 16 ounces mushrooms, sliced
- 1 stalk lemongrass, bruised optional
- 3 tablespoons fish sauce or use soy sauce
- 3 tablespoons lime juice (about 1½ limes)
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 1 bunch scallions sliced, green & white
- ½ cup cilantro, chopped
- Heat oil on medium heat in a large pot and add minced garlic, minced ginger, curry paste, and red pepper flakes. Stirring constantly, cook until fragrant – about 1-2 minutes.
- Add sliced onion and cook for another 5 minutes or until soft and translucent.
- Add raw chicken and sauté for 2-3 minutes until chicken is no longer pink on the outside. Add chicken when mushrooms are almost cooked if using cooked chicken.
- Add coconut milk, vegetable broth, sliced mushrooms, lemongrass, fish sauce, lime juice, and brown sugar
- Bring to a boil and then simmer for 10-20 minutes or until chicken is cooked and mushrooms are soft.
- Add more lime juice, fish sauce, and brown sugar to taste.
- Remove lemongrass stalk.
- Add sliced scallions and cilantro.