Thai Coconut Soup (Tom Kha Gai) is a warm, filling, and richly flavored traditional Thai soup made with coconut milk, red curry paste, and an assortment of veggies. Thai Coconut Curry Soup is a simple recipe you can make for friends and family to warm them up on cold days!
What Is Thai Coconut Soup?
Tom Kha Gai means to “boil galangal (a plant in the ginger family) and chicken.” Though we are making this recipe vegan (making it Tom Kha only), it’s traditionally made with chicken (Gai). This is a simple, spicy soup which finds it’s origins in Thai cuisine. The flavor of this soup is unmistakable about three things: galangal (or ginger), coconut, and red curry. The flavors are warm and this is definitely a soup that will fill you up.
This is one of the favorite recipes of Thai food lovers around the world and I’m certain you’ll be hooked as well.
My version of this recipe doesn’t include galangal but ginger instead. I personally love making it this way but I would encourage you to stay true to the original recipe if you’re so inclined.
Why I Love This Recipe
- Amazing flavors! If you sometimes struggle in adding enough flavor to your recipes, you won’t have to worry about that with this dish; Thai Coconut Soup (Tom Kha Gai) is loaded with nothing but flavor. The first sip of the broth will be impressionable if you’ve never had it before. While the broth is soft like satin, the flavors are robust and warming. If you love curry, coconut, and ginger, this is a must for you.
- Easy recipe! There are really only a few simple steps to this Thai Coconut Curry Soup recipe. You will be creating a base vegetable broth flavored with lemon grass and ginger. Then, you will combine your curry paste and coconut milk. Sauté your mushrooms and onions. Finally, add all of it together, toss in your veggies and you’ve got the best Thai Coconut Soup you’ve ever had!
- It’s healthy. All ingredients in this Thai Coconut Soup recipe are healthy. For example, studies have found that coconut is not only loaded with nutrients but is also a natural disinfectant. Coconut is also believed to help regulate blood sugar levels. Ginger is also believed to be beneficial for managing blood sugar. Finally, curry is packed with anti-inflammatory properties.(1)(2)(3)(4)
- It’s vegan. As mentioned earlier, Tom Kha Gai means “boil ginger and chicken”. However, we are making this recipe vegan which excludes chicken. You can check out my suggestions below if you’re looking to add a protein source. Tofu would be a great option because it won’t interfere with the overall flavor of the soup.
Tom Kha Gai Ingredients
While it appears that there are several ingredients required to make this recipe, only a few are responsible for the wonderful flavor of the broth of this Thai Coconut Curry Soup. I’ll note which ingredients are responsible for the flavor.
- Vegetable broth
- Lemon grass – Adds a nice lemony flavor to the broth.
- Ginger – This ingredient is indispensable as it adds to the overall flavor of the Thai Coconut Soup broth.
- Coconut milk – Coconut milk is a key ingredient. Coconut mixed with red curry paste are essential to the flavor.
- Red curry paste – Is an essential ingredient in making Tom Kha Gai.
- Vegan butter
- Red onion – Both red and green onions are great for creating a rich base flavor for the broth.
- Broccoli – I love adding broccoli; the broccoli becomes tender in the broth and is simply delicious.
- Bamboo shoots – Bamboo shoots along with water chestnuts add a nice crunchy and fresh texture.
- Water chestnuts
- Mushrooms – Mushrooms lend a lot to not just the flavor but the texture of the soup as well.
- Green onions
- Lime juice – Adds a nice tang to the overall flavor of the Thai Coconut Curry Soup.
How To Make Thai Coconut Soup
- Prepare broth base. Pour vegetable broth into a large pot with lemon grass and ginger. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to simmer while you prepare remaining ingredients.
- Combine coconut milk and curry. Using a medium pot, heat up the coconut milk and then add in the curry paste; use a whisk to fully combine.
- Sauté mushrooms and onions. Add vegan butter to a large soup pot and sauté mushrooms, green onion, and red onion.
- Combine broth, coconut milk, and sauteed ingredients. Pour the veggie broth and coconut curry milk into the pot with the mushrooms and onions.
- Add veggies and lime juice. Add broccoli, bamboo shoots, water chestnuts, and lime juice.
- Simmer. Allow soup to simmer for about 10 minutes until broccoli becomes tender.
While there is absolutely no variation I would suggest you make to the overall flavors of the Thai Coconut Soup, here are some ideas for veggies that you can add.
- Rice noodles
- Baby bok choy
Is Thai Coconut Curry Soup Spicy?
Yes, Thai Coconut Soup (Tom Kha Gai) is spicy but not overwhelmingly so. Red curry paste has a bit of a kick to it so be warned if you’re sensitive to spicy foods. However, speaking for myself, I don’t find this to be an uncomfortably spicy soup. On a scale of 1 to 10 (with 10 being extremely hot) I’d place this soup at about a 6.
Thai Coconut Soup will keep for up to 5 days if sealed in an airtight container and refrigerated. You can also freeze this soup for up to a month. Dethaw by placing soup in the refrigerator overnight.
Thai Coconut Soup FAQs
- Where can I find lemongrass? Most grocery stores sell lemongrass and you’ll likely find it in the same section along with fresh herbs.
- Do I need to use galangal and if so, where do I find it? You don’t have to use it. As mentioned, I used ginger instead. However, you may find fresh galangal at your local grocer. Yet, it’s not something I’ve commonly seen displayed. That’s why an Asian market might be your best bet.
More Vegan Soups And Stews
- Pozole Verde
- Shipwreck Stew
- White Bean Chili
- Vegan Chili
- Moroccan Harira Soup
- Vegan Tortilla Soup
- 4 Ingredient Potato Soup
- White Bean Tomato Soup
- Potato Leek Soup
- Cuban Black Bean Soup
- Ribollita Soup
- 4 Cups vegetable broth
- 2 Stalks lemon grass, cut in 1-inch pieces and smashed
- 1 medium knob of ginger, peeled and chopped
- 3 (13.5 oz.) Cans coconut milk
- 1 (4 oz.) Jar of red curry paste
- 2 Tablespoons vegan butter
- 1 Red onion, finely chopped
- 1 Head of broccoli, chopped
- 1 (13.5 oz.) Can of bamboo shoots, drained
- 1 (8 oz.) Can of water chestnuts
- 1/2 Cup of baby bella mushrooms, sliced
- 1 Bunch of green onions, chopped
- Juice of 1 lime.
- Place lemon grass and ginger in a large pot. Pour in vegetable broth and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and let simmer while you prepare the coconut curry milk and Sautee veggies.
- Using a medium pot, heat up the coconut milk over medium heat. Add in the red curry paste and use a whisk to fully combine, making sure there are no clumps of curry paste.
- Add butter to a large soup pot and sauté the mushrooms, red onion and green onions for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
- Pour the vegetable broth mixture and red curry coconut mixture into the large soup pot with the mushrooms and onions, stir to combine.
- Add water chestnuts, broccoli, bamboo shoots, and lime juice; stir to combine.
- Let soup simmer over medium-low heat for about 10 minutes to allow broccoli to become tender.
Please see the body of the post for recipe variations.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 145Total Fat: 9gSaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 404mgCarbohydrates: 15gFiber: 3gSugar: 3gProtein: 3g
The Vegan Plate attempts to provide accurate information. However, this nutritional information is provided as a courtesy and is an estimate only. The nutritional information provided comes from online sources and calculations. https://theveganplate.com/privacy-policy-2/