tom kha gai soup

5 from 4 reviews



1 tablespoon neutral oil
2 shallots, peeled and thinly sliced
2” galangal root, sliced
1 lemongrass stalk, chopped
5 large kaffir lime leaves
1 rounded tablespoon red curry paste
7 cups chicken stock (homemade is best)
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, thinly sliced
2 1/2 cups full-fat coconut milk
1 1/2 tablespoons fish sauce
2 oz palm sugar, coconut sugar, or brown sugar
8 oz cremini mushrooms, quartered
3/4 lb raw medium shrimp, peeled, tails removed, and deveined (optional)
1/3 cup heavy cream, optional
fresh lime juice
salt to taste
chopped cilantro
chili oil, optional


  1. In a 4 quart heavy bottomed pot, add the oil and turn the heat to medium. Once the oil is warm, add the shallots, lemongrass, and galangal, and cook for 2- 3 minutes, until the shallots start to soften. Add the kaffir lime leaves and curry paste and cook for 2 minutes, until the curry paste is fragrant. Add the chicken broth and bring to a simmer for 20 minutes.
  2. Once the chicken broth has reduced by a bit, use a slotted spoon to remove the galangal, lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves. Add the chicken, coconut milk, heavy cream, palm sugar, and fish sauce and bring to a gentle simmer.
  3. After about 20 minutes, the chicken should be cooked through. At this stage, the mushrooms can be added directly to the soup but I actually like to sauté them in a cast iron with a little oil first to brown them, it’s entirely up to you! If you’re using shrimp, add them in with the mushrooms and simmer for another 4-5 minutes. Season the soup to taste with salt and lime juice (I personally like lots of lime juice).
  4. Ladle the soup into bowls, topped with chopped cilantro and chili oil, if desired.


This soup doesn’t normally have shrimp in it, but I like to add it for extra protein and flavor.

See the above notes on where to source ingredients!

I like to add heavy cream to the soup for extra creaminess. This is how I did it back in my restaurant days. This is not traditionally and it’s totally optional.

Keywords: soup

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