Thai Coconut Chicken Soup (Tom Kha Gai) – You’ll want to make this one on repeat!

Thai Coconut Chicken Soup (Tom Kha Gai) – You’ll want to make this one on repeat!

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With super tender, melt-in-your-mouth chicken and a silky smooth sauce loaded with fresh veggies and tons of bright, fresh flavor, this Thai Coconut Chicken Soup ticks all the boxes!

I have been making this Thai Coconut Chicken Soup on repeat for the past two weeks. Everyone who’s tried it has loved it and EVERYONE has gone back for second helpings. But then, what’s not to love… super tender chicken, a silky smooth sauce that’s bursting with fabulous flavor and, on top of all that, it’s loaded with great nutrition!

Horizontal overhead photo of a pot of Thai Coconut Chicken Soup surrounded by small bowls of fresh vegetables and herbs on a wood table.

A delicious and comforting meal!

Although I’ve made this soup 4 or 5 times recently, I honestly wouldn’t mind a bit if you invited me for dinner tomorrow and featured this for dinner. It’s so delicious and the flavors are universally appealing. I’ve read that this Thai Coconut Chicken Soup (also called Tom Kha Gai) is one of the few things that actually tastes good and is satiating to patients who are undergoing chemotherapy. To me, that says that it’s comforting in addition to being delicious!

Vertical overhead photo of a pot of Thai Coconut Chicken Soup on a slotted wood platter surrounded by fresh vegetables, herbs and lime wedges.

My rendition

If you grew up with a Thai heritage or have spent time living or vacationing in Thailand, you might think that this recipe isn’t the same as the Thai Coconut Chicken Soup you experienced. And you would be right! This is my own personal rendition of this recipe with lots of similarities to classic Thai Coconut Chicken Soup but with my own adaptations and additions.

But again, as with many ethnic culinary classics, the ingredients and cooking techniques depend on which part of the country you lived in or visited. Different regions, communities and even families will have their own beloved version of the “same” recipe.

Vertical overhead photo of two serving bowls of Thai Coconut Chicken Soup garnished with rice, fresh vegetables, peppers and herbs.

My Thai Coconut Chicken Soup recipe includes many “authentic” ingredients like garlic, ginger, lemongrass and coconut milk but I also incorporate unique ingredients like potatoes to thicken the broth and bell pepper for color, flavor and extra nutrition. And to keep the ingredient list simple and attainable without having to visit an Asian specialty store, I incorporate a small portion of red curry paste.

You can find red curry paste in the Asian section of any grocery store that has an international section. I use Thai Kitchen Red Curry Paste which is the brand you’ll most easily find at your local grocer if you live in the U.S. Thai red curry paste includes lots of flavorful ingredients like red chili peppers, garlic, lemongrass, shallots, coriander root and Kaffir lime peel.

A magical technique

When I served this Thai Coconut Chicken Soup recently to our son Nick and his family, Nick asked, “how in the world do you get the chicken SO tender?”

Horizontal overhead closeup photo of a pot of Thai Coconut Chicken Soup.

The answer to that question lies in an old Chinese technique called  “velveting”. It’s an easy but unusual marinade technique that can be done while the broth for this soup is cooking. How does it work? You’ll need to thinly slice a few chicken breasts then, in a medium size bowl, mix up the magic potion which includes an egg white, cornstarch, rice vinegar and a splash of oil. Add the thinly sliced chicken breast and gently stir to coat the chicken.

It only takes 20 minutes and, when the broth has been cooked and pureed, bring it to a simmer then stir in the marinaded chicken. Bring the mixture back to a simmer, cover the pot tightly and turn off the heat. 10 minutes later remove the lid and discover super tender, VELVETY chicken! That’s it!

Vertical overhead closeup photo of a pot of Thai Coconut Chicken Soup.

How to serve this Thai Coconut Chicken Soup

If you check online, you’ll note there are a zillion different ways to serve this Thai-inspired soup. Recipes often include mushrooms in the soup. I like to sauté mushrooms separately until they’re golden brown and serve them as a beautiful garnish in lieu of just cooking them in the broth.

For the Thai Coconut Chicken Soup in this post, I serve the soup with a scoop of basmati rice and sugar snap peas that I simply steam in the microwave for a minute. This can be done in advance to make dinner time super easy.

I’ve also served this soup with steamed broccolini to include a healthy green veggie. Here are a few other options:

  • Tiny, sweet frozen peas, either added to the broth at the very end or served as a topping and pretty garnish.
  • Top it with shredded red cabbage that’s been combined with a splash of fresh lime juice and a drizzle of honey. Beautiful!
  • Instead of rice, top each bowl with a portion of rice noodles.
  • Steamed broccoli is delicious and makes a pretty presentation.
  • I always include lime wedges and fresh herbs as garnishes for this Thai Coconut Chicken Soup. Herb options are basil, Thai basil, cilantro or mint (or a combination of all of these if my herb garden happens to be prolific).
  • Sometimes I scatter a handful of peanuts or cashews over the top for a nice salty crunch.
  • If you like a bit of heat without making the soup itself spicy, a few slices of red chili peppers will do the trick! (I use serrano peppers but use whichever type you like!)

I hope I’ve convinced you to make a pot of this Thai Coconut Chicken Soup! You probably won’t have any leftovers but if you happen to be lucky, this soup rewarms beautifully and makes a fabulous work or school lunch. You can also make it ahead for meals on busy evenings and easy entertaining. Try it! I think you’ll be sold, just like my family and friends are!

ทานให้อร่อยนะครับ/คะ – Bon Appétit in Thai!

Vertical overhead photo of a bowl of Thai Coconut Chicken Soup on a wood table with rice, fresh vegetables, herbs, lime wedges and Serrano peppers.

Café Tips for making this Thai Coconut Chicken Soup (Tom Kha Gai)

  • Don’t be tempted to cook the chicken longer than the recipe directs. It will cook to super tender perfection if you follow the steps given.
  • This recipe calls for finely grated fresh ginger and lemongrass. Ginger can be found at most larger grocers in the produce section. Lemongrass can be a little trickier to find. I always keep Gourmet Garden Ginger and Lemongrass Paste in my fridge or freezer. You’ll find ginger and lemongrass paste in the produce section of many larger grocery stores, including Super Target and Super Walmart. Store it the refrigerator for 2-3 weeks or in the freezer for much longer. I usually keep mine in the freezer and let it thaw for about 10 minutes when I need to use it. I squeeze out as much as I need then pop the tube back in the freezer.
  • As the recipe name suggests, coconut milk is one of the main ingredients in this Thai Coconut Chicken Soup (Tom Kha Gai). I have used both light coconut milk and full-fat coconut milk with good success. Use whichever is best for you and your dietetic needs.
  • This recipe calls for fish sauce. Fish sauce is a classic Thai (and Vietnamese) ingredient. It may sound weird if you’re not familiar with it but if you’ve enjoyed any Thai or Vietnamese food, you’ve, most likely, had it without knowing. Fish sauce, as Bon Appétit magazine says, “Few ingredients bring as much immediate, show-stopping flavor to a dish as fish sauce does.” It adds salty, savory, sweet umami to dishes like this Thai Coconut Chicken Soup. Don’t skip it! I really like Red Boat Fish Sauce. It will keep in the refrigerator for a long time and there are lots of dishes that call for it.

Thought for the  day:

He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood,
and the name by which He is called is The Word of God.
On His robe and on His thigh He has a name written,
King of kings and Lord of lords.
Revelation 19:13, 16

What we’re listening to for inspiration:

King of Kings

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If you enjoy any of these recipes, please come back and leave a star rating and review! It’s so helpful to other readers to hear your results, adaptations, and ideas for variations.


Thai Coconut Chicken Soup (Tom Kha Gai)

With super tender, melt-in-your-mouth chicken and a silky smooth sauce loaded with fresh veggies and tons of bright, fresh flavor, this Thai Coconut Chicken Soup ticks all the boxes!

Author: Chris Scheuer

Prep Time:
20 mins

Cook Time:
30 mins

Total Time:
50 mins

Servings: 8

Calories: 254 kcal


For the soup:

  • 1
    coconut oil
  • 1
  • 1
    large sweet onion
    roughly chopped
  • 1
    large yellow bell pepper
    roughly chopped
  • 3
    medium cloves garlic
  • 2
    finely grated fresh ginger
  • 2
    finely chopped lemongrass or lemongrass paste
  • 1
    Thai red curry paste
    more to taste
  • 5
    low sodium chicken broth
    maybe more
  • 27
    coconut milk (regular or light)
    (I use 2 13.5-ounce cans)
  • 2-3
    peeled and roughly chopped (around 14 ounces, before peeling)
  • 2
    granulated sugar
  • 2
    fish sauce
    (I like Red Boat)

  • teaspoons
    kosher salt
    more to taste

For the chicken:

  • 3-4
    boneless skinless chicken breasts
    1¼-1 ½ pounds – 567-680g (cut in half, lengthwise and thinly sliced about ⅛-inch thick)
  • 1
    egg white (from 1 large egg)
  • 2
    corn starch
  • 2
    rice vinegar
  • 1
    extra virgin olive oil

For serving:

  • lime wedges
  • fresh cilantro
    basil, Thai basil and/or mint leaves
  • sugar snap peas
    optional (see notes below)
  • see the post above for other serving options


For the soup and chicken:

  1. In a large (5-6 quart) Dutch oven or soup pot, heat the coconut oil and butter over medium heat. Add the onion and yellow bell pepper and sauté until the onion is softened and translucent. Add the garlic, ginger, lemongrass and red curry paste and cook for another minute until fragrant.

  2. Add the chicken broth, coconut milk, potatoes, sugar, fish sauce and salt. Bring to a boil and cook, uncovered, for 25 minutes or until the potatoes are very tender.

  3. Using an immersion blender or a regular blender, puree the broth mixture until nice and smooth. (If using a regular blender, let the broth cool for a bit and be sure to vent the top to prevent the heat from building up in the blender container and causing an explosion.)

  4. Taste the pureed broth. Add more salt if needed. If you like things a little spicier, you can add more Thai red curry paste.

  5. While the broth is simmering prepare the chicken by combining the egg white, cornstarch, rice vinegar and oil in a medium size bowl. Add the thinly sliced chicken and stir well to coat. Allow the chicken to marinate for 20 minutes.

  6. After the chicken has marinated for 20 minutes, bring the pureed broth to a low simmer. Add the chicken and stir well to separate the pieces. Allow the broth to return to a simmer (don’t let it boil vigorously) then cover the pot tightly and turn off the heat. Allow the soup to sit, undisturbed for 10 minutes, then serve and enjoy.

For serving:

  1. There are lots of serving options. We like to serve it with basmati rice (as pictured), lots of fresh herbs and lime wedges. See the post above for other serving options.

Recipe Notes

See Café Tips above in the post for more detailed instructions and tips to ensure success.

If you prefer to use Metric measurements there is a button in each of our recipes, right above the word “Instructions”. Just click that button to toggle to grams, milliliters, etc. If you ever come across one of our recipes that doesn’t have the Metric conversion (some of the older recipes may not), feel free to leave a comment and I will add it.

If I use sugar snap peas as a garnish/topping for this soup, I simply slice them diagonally and microwave them for 1 minute then rinse under cold water to stop the cooking.

Calories 254kcal

Fat 12g

Saturated fat 9g

Trans fat 0.1g

Polyunsaturated fat 1g

Monounsaturated fat 2g

Cholesterol 31mg

Sodium 906mg

Potassium 585mg

Carbohydrates 21g

Fiber 2g

Sugar 5g

Protein 14g

Vitamin A 383%

Vitamin C 40%

Calcium 27%

Iron 1%

Thai Coconut Chicken Soup (Tom Kha Gai) - You\'ll want to make this one on repeat!

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