Sunday, August 24, 2014

Tom Kha Thai Soup

Accompanied by my illustrious photographer and culinary muse, JiJY, I present to you: Tom Kha. This fragrant soup is made with chicken and is bursting with flavor from the aromatic spices (and no curry powder/paste at all), and brought together with coconut milk and lime.

Finished product, garnished with Thai basil and an egg. Photo by JiJY Thanwalee.


  • 1 chicken
  • 4-5 quarts water
  • 1 chicken boullion cube
  • 3-4 stalks lemon grass
  • 1 galangal root
  • 6-8 kaffir lime leaves
  • 4 large shallots or 1 red onion
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 3 Thai chilies

Simmering the broth. Scoop off the scummy bits so you get a nice clear broth. I accelerated the process by using a pressure cooker. Photo by JiJY Thanwalee.
Place the chicken, aromatics, and water together in a large pot or pressure cooker. Bring to a simmer and simmer for 1 hour (or 35 min in pressure cooker). Drain the broth for use in the soup and discard the aromatics. Remove the chicken and when it is cool enough to handle, strip the meat from the bone. Use half of the meat in the tom kha (use the rest of the meat in some other recipe such as chicken laap salad).

Coconut Milk & Veggies:

  • 1 can (14 oz) coconut milk
  • 1 bunch Thai basil (reserve some for garnish)
  • 1.5 c. oyster mushrooms (or 1 can straw mushrooms)
  • 6-8 green eggplants, stems removed and quartered

NOTE: other vegetables are possible, such as long beans, tomatoes, or bamboo shoots, but I recommend restraint so that the other flavors shine through


  • 1-2 Tbsp. palm sugar or brown sugar
  • 3-4 Tbsp. fish sauce
  • Juice of 1 large lime

In a separate large pot, simmer down the coconut milk for 10-15 minutes to concentrate it. Add the broth and veggies and simmer until they are tender. Add the palm sugar, fish sauce, and lime juice and adjust seasonings to taste.


  • Thai basil
  • Cilantro
  • Thai chilies
  • Green onions
  • Beansprouts
In some ways, garnishing the soup is the best part...other than eating it, of course! Photo by JiJY Thanwalee.

Enjoy the amazing flavors of the soup, along with the crispy garnish. I froze some, so I'll let you know how well it works as leftovers.

Sometimes the chefs get hungry, so I recommend a meaty snack with a spicy kick: Hmong sausage and a chili pepper. Photo by JiJY Thanwalee

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