Thai Chicken Coconut And Noodles Soup (Tom Kha Gai)
This is a soup I can have on the regular. It’s one I often order when I’m out having Thai food and if it’s not this one, it’s one with very similar flavours. I was craving this one for a while but especially the other week when I was feeling a bit under the weather. It’s a great alternative to your regular chicken noodle soup.
As I was craving it I wondered if I could make it. I was gifted some Thai ingredients from a company and decided to check out their recommended recipes. One of them was this soup and they referred to a recipe for it by Bon Appetit. I did some comparison research for it and this is my version of the top three that I found. A bit of a mish-mash of the three but it worked so well and I was very happy with how it turned out!
Thai flavours are multi-faceted and I would even say a bit complex. There is a real balancing of flavours and spices when making Thai dishes, this one included. I often shy away from them because they intimidate me so much and that’s why I was happy to find some recipes I could test until I got the flavours exactly the way I love them and also balanced.
This soup has a little spice and slight heat in the background which I love, there’s also an underlying creaminess and some sweetness due to the coconut, and most definitely a touch of tart or sour from the lime and lemon grass. The ginger and lemon grass also create a beautiful fragrant flavour in the broth that is signature to this dish. The finishing fish sauce gives it a little saltiness and unique kind of flavour. It’s a ‘Unami bomb’ that will give depth and richness to sauces and main dishes like this one.
The flavours all work beautifully together but that being said if you know you love a lot of ginger in your soup please feel free to add more and that also goes for the lemon grass as well. The curry powder I used was super fragrant and delicious but not overly spicy, which is great especially if your making this dish for company and not too sure how much spice everyone can take. You can always add more heat later by adding a little extra chili oil and sliced chili peppers to garnish.
Another fabulous thing I love about this soup is all the mushrooms in it! I absolutely love mushrooms. They add some heartiness to the soup along with a bit of earthiness and some extra textures in it too. I used a variety because I ended up finding a great variety pack but that is not necessary. Using one or two types of mushrooms is just fine.
Two other things I wanted to mention about it is the chicken in it and also the noodles. If you want it meatless feel free to just omit the chicken. The noodles are also optional. I don’t think this this dish traditionally has noodles. At least that is what I read. But I wanted a bit of extra substance to it and added the rice noodles and they were perfect in it! Some people serve it with the noodles on the side and that is ok too. I also read that many people serve it with rice on the side if you are not using noodles. I have yet to try it with the rice but I know that either way would be delicious according to your preference.
This is a very simple soup and chock full of flavour and the next time you’re craving chicken noodle soup - this one is for you especially if you want a bit of a change from the usual. It was comforting and just what I needed and I’m so glad I finally found a delicious recipe for it and can enjoy it at home. I know you will love it too!
- 1 L salt-reduced chicken stock
- 2 x 270 ml cans coconut milk
- 3 cm piece ginger, thinly sliced
- 2 stalks lemongrass, white part only, smashed and chopped (feel free to use dried lemon grass if fresh stalks are unavailable)
- 5 kaffir lime leaves
- 2 small skinless chicken breast fillets or 3-4 boneless chicken thighs (about 400g), thinly sliced
- 200 g mixed mushrooms, sliced (I used a combo of shiitake, oyster, and maitake)
- 100 g rice vermicelli noodles or rice Thai noodles
- 1 Tbsp red curry paste (or 1 tablespoon of Thai Red Curry powder mixed into 1 tablespoon water and 1 tablespoon cooking oil)
- Juice of 1 lime plus more lime slices for garnish
- 2 Tbsp fish sauce
- 1 Tbsp sugar
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Cilantro to garnish
- Sliced red chilli, to garnish
- Chili sauce to garnish
- Put stock, coconut milk and 500ml water in a large heavy-based saucepan over a high heat.
- Add ginger, lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves to the pot and bring to the boil, then reduce heat to medium-low, simmering for 10 minutes.
- Remove ginger, lemongrass and leaves with a slotted spoon and discard. (I usually strain the whole broth into another pot but that is optional)
- Add chicken, cooking for 6 minutes. Stir in mushrooms, noodles and curry paste. Cook for a further 2 minutes or until noodles are transparent.
- Remove from heat and stir in lime juice, fish sauce and sugar.
- Spoon chicken and noodles into serving bowls. Ladle over soup. To serve, garnish with herbs and chillis, lime wedges and drizzle over some of the chili sauce for a little extra heat.