Chicken Coconut Soup with Lemongrass

Rated 5 out of 5
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One of the most-requested dishes in Thai restaurants is this soup, called tom kha gai. It is also easy to prepare at home, however, once you have the right ingredients on hand. While you may not be able to find kaffir lime leaves or galangal (a gingerlike rhizome) at your market, grated lime zest and fresh ginger work well in their place. Bottled fish sauce and canned coconut milk are now widely available, so this delicate and fragrant soup can grace your table often.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Servings 4 to 6
Serves 4 to 6.


  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 8 large slices peeled fresh galangal or 4   slices peeled fresh ginger
  • 1 large lemongrass stalk, cut into 2-inch pieces,   crushed
  • 16 fresh kaffir lime leaves, torn in half,   or grated zest of 1 large lime
  • 2 cans (each 14 oz.) coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup lime or lemon juice
  • 2 to 3 Tbs. Thai fish sauce
  • 2 Tbs. light brown sugar
  • 1 Tbs. red chili paste
  • 1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into   bite-size pieces
  • 1/2 lb. fresh white mushrooms, brushed clean and   thinly sliced
  • 5 small fresh red or green chilies, sliced   crosswise paper-thin
  • Fresh cilantro leaves for garnish


In a large saucepan, combine the broth, galangal, lemongrass and lime leaves. Place over medium heat and slowly bring to a boil. Boil for 1 minute.

Reduce the heat to low, add the coconut milk, stir to combine and bring to a simmer. Add the lime juice, fish sauce, brown sugar and chili paste; mix well and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the chicken pieces and simmer until tender, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms and simmer until tender, about 1 minute more.

To serve, ladle into warmed bowls. Float the chili slices and cilantro leaves on top.
Serves 4 to 6.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Lifestyles Series, Soup for Supper, by Joyce Goldstein (Time-Life Books, 1998).
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great for workday lunches This soup is absolutely delicious, and a cinch to make. I personally like to simmer the lemongrass, lime and galangal in the chicken broth for much longer than 1 minute - usually about 20 minutes or so for maximum flavour. I will often use chicken that has been leftover from a roast chicken dinner, and that works nicely. I've also experimented with different mushroom varieties, and all work well in this soup. Last, in a pinch, I have used Red Curry Paste (a particular common brand at many grocery stores) in place for the Red Chilli Paste when I didn't have any of the latter on hand. The soup keeps and reheats well, and I've often had it several times in the week for lunch - simple, filling and delicious!
Date published: 2014-02-19
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