Tom Kha Soup

We love the exotic flavors of this fabulous Thai soup, spicy, a bit sweet and salty, creamy, with fresh lemongrass and galangal flavors, with a sumptuous umami taste. It’s easy to prepare and is crazy addictive with an intoxicating aroma.

You can also substitute shrimp for the chicken, or tofu as well, and make this soup veggie. Either way, it’s like a magical ticket to Thailand!


6 cups chicken bone broth (we boil down the bones from a whole rotisserie chicken)
6 boneless skinless chicken thighs already seared or broiled, or the meat from a deboned whole rotisserie chicken
14 ounces of coconut milk or 7 ounces of coconut cream (we prefer cream since it’s richer)
20 shiitake fresh mushrooms, or cremini, cut in half (or 20 shiitake dried and reconstituted)
1/2 pound small fleshy tomatoes or red cherry tomatoes (optional but very traditional)
2 shallots, finely chopped (we use a small food processor)
4 large garlic cloves, crushed
3 tablespoons Thai red curry paste (we use Mae Ploy brand)
3 tablespoons galangal paste (we sometimes use a little 3.5 ounce jar of Tom Yum paste from Mekhala, easily available on Amazon) or a 2 inch piece of galangal, peeled and finely chopped using a small food processor (please be careful in cutting the galangal, it’s very hard)
2 lemongrass stalks, peeled, bruised to release flavors and cut into 1 inch chunks (or use 2 tablespoons lemongrass paste, the Tom Yum paste from Mekhala has just enough)
2 tablespoon fish sauce (we use Red Boat brand)
3 to 4 limes, juiced (depending on size and juiciness)
1 tablespoon light brown sugar or coconut palm sugar
2 tablespoons coconut oil
8 Kaffir lime leaves, bruised by hand to release the flavors (alternate name is Makrut)
2 red chilies, sliced (mostly because it looks cool!)
1 bunch cilantro, chopped and served with the soup in the bowl
1 teaspoon salt, to taste
1 teaspoon black pepper, to taste


Using a large saucepan, simmer the shallots on low to medium heat in the coconut oil until translucent, about 3 minutes.

Add the mushrooms and sear for about 2 minutes.

Now add the garlic, red curry paste, galangal paste, lemongrass pieces or paste, and simmer for another 2 minutes, until aromatic and sizzling.

Add the chicken bone broth, the coconut milk or cream, fish sauce, sugar, and lime juice. Once the soup begins to bubble, simmer on low/medium for about 6 minutes, until married.

Now that the exotic aroma is filling the kitchen, add the chicken, the tomatoes, Kaffir lime leaves and the red chili slices. Once the soup is simmering again, turn the heat to low and allow the chicken and the broth to marry, about 5 minutes.

Serve in bowls with the cilantro and with jasmine rice on the side. Enjoy!