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Thai Chicken Coconut Soup (Tom Ka Gai Recipe)

Photo and recipe of Thai Chicken Coconut Soup (Tom Ka Gai) courtesy of my buddies at Andrews McMeel Publishing. 
A note on galangal/ginger: while often used together, they are not the same ingredient and taste very different! Many recipes will have you substitute ginger for galangal (which can be difficult to find), which isn't really a "substitute." Think of it as - if you can't get galangal, ginger would be great in this soup too. Find galangal at the Asian market - sometimes you can get fresh galangal otherwise you may find it frozen. ~jaden 
Tessa's intro: "I just wouldn’t cope with not knowing how to make some version of this soup. I love it. You can add a few mushrooms, a couple of fresh spinach leaves or some slices of zucchini in with the chicken. Also wonderful instead of the chicken is to cook some large, shelled shrimp on a barbecue or grill pan and toss them into the soup just before serving. The fish sauce is the salt in this soup so adjust the quantities according to your taste (and the same with the chile). I like it not too strong. Keep the cilantro stems in your freezer to add flavor to a broth or stew."
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 10 mins
Total Time 20 mins
Course Soup
Cuisine Thai
Servings 4 people
Calories 105 kcal


  • 1-1/2 inch piece of galangal or ginger peeled and sliced
  • small bunch fresh cilantro with stem about 8 stems worth of cilantro, reserving some cilantro leaves for serving
  • 4 kaffir lime leaves makrut, torn
  • 1 stem lemongrass halved lengthways
  • 3 tablespoons fish sauce
  • juice of 2 small limes
  • 1-3/4 cups coconut milk
  • 1/2 pound skinless chicken breast cut into thin strips
  • 1 red chile seeded and sliced


  • Put the galangal, cilantro roots, lime leaves, lemongrass and 4 cups of water in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Add the fish sauce and lime juice, decrease the heat, and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove the cilantro and discard. 
  • Add the coconut milk, bring back to a simmer for a couple of minutes. Give the broth a quick taste. Too sour? Add more coconut milk or water. Not salty enough? Add a couple dashes more of fish sauce. 
  • Add the chicken pieces and cook for just a minute or so, until the chicken is soft and milky looking and cooked through. 
  • Throw in the chili and stir. Serve in bowls with the cilantro leaves roughly chopped and scattered over the top.


Sodium: 1128mgCalcium: 11mgVitamin C: 19.1mgVitamin A: 125IUSugar: 1gPotassium: 325mgCholesterol: 36mgCalories: 105kcalSaturated Fat: 3gFat: 4gProtein: 13gCarbohydrates: 2gIron: 1mg
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