Tom kha kai soup, the wonderful Thai chicken soup

La sopa Tom kha kai (oh Tom kha gai) es one of the most famous dishes in Thai cuisine. Its name literally means galangal and chicken soup, which are its main ingredients. For its preparation, coconut milk and a set of aromatics are used, which give the dish a very pleasant mixture of sweet, sour and spicy flavors.

Among the above aromatic ingredients, many common ingredients are used in Thai cuisine, but which are generally somewhat unknown in these countries. In particular, we refer to galangal (similar in appearance to ginger, but more lemony in taste), citronella (also known as lemongrass or lemongrass) and lemon or kafir or combava leaves (a small and wrinkled variety of lime).

However, the rarity of the products does not prevent you from trying this delicious soup. Such is its popularity that any Asian supermarket (physically or online) with a Thai cooking section you will almost certainly have them available, if not in their fresh form, you will find them frozen or in the form of pasta paste for cooking. Even for those who want to try sporadically, they also sell small packets with the right amount of each ingredient.

Damian Serrano

recipe information

  • Preparation time: 10 minutes
  • Cooking time: 20 minutes
  • total time: 35 minutes
  • rations: 4
  • Category: main course
  • type of kitchen: Thai
  • Calories per serving (kcal): 369

Tom kha kai soup ingredients for 4 people

  • 1 piece of galangal 1 cm
  • 2 stalks citronella, lemongrass or lemon grass
  • 2 or 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 to 3 Thai chilies (red and green)
  • 4 or 5 leaves kafir or combava lime
  • 1 sprig of fresh coriander
  • 1 medium onion
  • 500 g boneless, skinless chicken thigh
  • 250 g mushrooms or mushrooms (oyster, shiitake…)
  • 600 ml chicken broth
  • 400ml coconut milk
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 teaspoon palm sugar or regular sugar
  • 2 tablespoons of fish sauce
  • 1 lime
  • A few drops of chili oil (optional, for serving)

Tom Kha Kai Soup IngredientsDamian Serrano

How to Make Tom Kha Kai Soup

The first thing we are going to do is prepare the aromatic ingredients of the sauce. We take 1 piece of 1 cm galangal and cut it into about 3 or 4 slices. Then we need 2 stalks of citronella, lemon grass or lemon grass which we have to crush lengthwise to be able to cut them into pieces later. Peel and crush 2 or 3 cloves of garlic, remove the stem from the Thai chilies and crush them too (we will put 1 to 3 depending on our taste for spice). You need to remove the stem from 4 or 5 kafir or combava lime leaves and chop them, chop 1 bunch of cilantro—which we’ll keep until almost the end—and, to finish, peel and chop 1 onion.

Prepare the aromatic ingredients for tom kha kai soupDamian Serrano

We continue with the chicken, from which we will need about 500 g of boneless, skinless thighs that we will cut into bite-sized pieces. Finally, we will get about 250 g of mushrooms or mushrooms, which can be the type we like the most, although it is quite common to use the oyster or shiitake variety. We also cut them into pieces.

Chop the chicken and the mushrooms for the tom kha kai soupDamian Serrano

With everything ready, we start preparing the soup, which basically consists of adding the ingredients to the pot in turn. We start by combining 600 ml of chicken broth with 400 ml of coconut milk and heat it.

Mix the chicken broth with the coconut milkDamian Serrano

In the first batch we are going to put the main aromatic ingredients. Add the galangal, citronella, garlic, chilli and kafir lime leaves to the pot, as well as 1 teaspoon of salt and another palm or regular sugar.

Add the aromatic ingredients of the tom kha kai soupDamian Serrano

Heat over medium heat and when we see it is going to boil, add the onion to the pot along with the chopped chicken. We continue to heat and cook until the chicken is cooked, which can take about 20 minutes. We will try to make it a light boil, that is to say that it does not boil in streams, so that the mixture of sauce and coconut milk does not cut off.

Add the onion and chicken to the potDamian Serrano

When the chicken is almost ready, we will add the mushrooms or mushrooms and continue cooking until they are cooked.

Add the mushrooms to the tom kha kai soupDamian Serrano

Finally, remove from the heat and add 2 tablespoons of fish sauce. Mix well so that it loses some heat and add the juice of 1 lemon. We ended up adding salt to the brim and adding some of the chopped fresh cilantro we had reserved.

Spread the tom kha kai soupDamian Serrano

We serve the soup in bowls and finish with a little more chopped cilantro on top and, if desired, a few drops of chilli oil.

Serve the soupDamian Serrano

Easy preparation summary

  1. Cut the galangal into 4 slices, press and chop the lemon grass, peel and press the garlic, stem and press the chillies, stem and chop the kafir lime leaves, chop the coriander sprig and peel and chop the onion
  2. Chop the mushrooms and the chicken
  3. Heat the coconut milk in a saucepan with the chicken stock
  4. Add the galangal, citronella, garlic, chillies, lemon leaves, salt and sugar.
  5. When it boils, add the onion and chicken and cook for 20 minutes.
  6. Add the mushrooms and finish cooking
  7. Add the fish sauce from the heat, mix and add the juice of the lime and coriander
  8. Serve the Tom kha kai soup immediately with chopped coriander and optionally with a few drops of chilli oil

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