Thai Coconut Chicken Soup

Total Time:
45 min
15 min
30 min

8 servings

  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 3 kaffir lime leaves, fresh or dried, hand torn
  • 2 small Thai chiles, halved lengthwise
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • One 3-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and cut into 4 chunks
  • 1 stalk lemongrass (white part only), cracked open with the flat side of a knife
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded cooked chicken
  • One 13-ounce can unsweetened coconut milk
  • One 8-ounce can straw mushrooms, rinsed
  • 2 tablespoons Thai fish sauce ( nam pla)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
  • Juice of 4 limes
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves, for garnish
  • Chicken Stock:
  • 1 whole free-range chicken (about 3 1/2 pounds), rinsed, giblets discarded
  • 2 carrots, cut in large chunks
  • 3 celery stalks, cut in large chunks
  • 2 large white onions, quartered
  • 1 head of garlic, halved
  • 1 turnip, halved
  • 1/4 bunch fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns

Bring the stock to a boil over medium heat in a soup pot. Add the lime leaves, chiles, garlic, ginger and lemongrass. Lower the heat to medium-low; cover the pot and gently simmer to let the spices infuse the broth, about 10 minutes.

Uncover the pot and stir in the chicken, coconut milk, mushrooms, fish sauce, sugar and lime juice. Simmer to heat the chicken through, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Ladle the soup into a soup tureen or individual serving bowls. Garnish with the cilantro. Be careful to avoid chewing the lemongrass, ginger or lime leaves.

Cook's Note: Lemongrass imparts a delicate citrusy flavor and aroma, but if you can't find lemongrass, use equal parts lemon peel and ginger. Kaffir lime is gently limey with lots of aroma, but you can substitute lime peel if you can't find it.

Place the chicken and vegetables in a large stockpot over medium heat. Pour in only enough cold water to cover (about 3 quarts); too much will make the broth taste weak. Toss in the thyme, bay leaves, and peppercorns, and allow it to slowly come to a boil. Lower the heat to medium-low and gently simmer for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, partially covered, until the chicken is done. As it cooks, skim any impurities that rise to the surface; add a little more water if necessary to keep the chicken covered while simmering.

Carefully remove the chicken to a cutting board. When its cool enough to handle, discard the skin and bones; hand-shred the meat into a storage container.

Carefully strain the stock through a fine sieve into another pot to remove the vegetable solids. Use the stock immediately or if you plan on storing it, place the pot in a sink full of ice water and stir to cool down the stock. Cover and refrigerate for up to one week or freeze.

Difficulty: Intermediate

Cook Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

Yield: 2 quarts stock

From Food Network Kitchens; after further testing and to ensure the best results this recipe has been altered from what was in the actual episode.

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    74 Reviews
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    So tasty! Exactly like I get at a favorite Thai Restaurant. I was looking to replicate the recipe from the restaurant & that's exactly what I got. Tyler's flavor profile is always right on.
    I don't know what I did wrong. It smelled and tasted fantastic along the cooking process but once I added the fish sauce it smelled horrible (I bought a high grade Thai fish sauce at local Asian market). The taste was OK but it was just too hard to get past the horrible smell. Didn't smell or taste anything like the soup that I get from the local Thai restaurant around the corner. My family all left the house because they thought the smell was so disgusting. Burning incense and opening all the doors in January to try to get the smell out of my house.
    Bummer, did the fish sauce smell bad before you added it to the soup? Different fish sauces smell and taste differently, so you should give it another go with a different brand.
    the chicken throws off the Thai taste of this type of soup..... chicken doesn't belong in this
    VERY Yummy!!!!! I have made it twice in the last two weeks. My husband loves it and my pregnant coworker does too! I actually love the lime taste. I used chicken bullion cubes and it still tasted as good as a Thai restaurant. Highly recommend! 
    Way too much lime, the soup was overly tart. I tried to save it by adding another tablespoon of sugar, and more stock....but unfortunately it couldn't be saved. Luckily I didn't bother with the from scratch stock, so there weren't many ingredients to waste in it.
    absolutely delicious. cut the lime, added more lemongrass, used brown sugar instead of white and served with jasmine rice. AMAZING!!!  
    This recipe is really good, but it lacked the punch of flavor I found at my favorite Thai restaurant which has sadly closed. 
    The proper name for this soup is Tom Kha Gai which literally translates to Chicken Galangal Soup. Galangal is a root in the same family as ginger, but it tastes very different. So I suggest getting that at an Asian market in lieu of ginger. I also suggest halving the lime juice, doubling the lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves, and adding a bit more sugar to taste. If you need more heat just add a little Sriracha sauce or other chili paste. 
    I was able to find all the exotic ingredients at Whole Foods. If you must use substitutes try these: 
    Galangal root ? Ginger root 
    10 Kaffir lime leaves ? 5 Bay leaves, zest of 2 limes 
    Thai chilies ? Sriracha sauce or another chili pepper, tsp at a time 
    1 Tbsp Palm sugar ? 2 tsp Brown sugar 
    3 shallots ? 2 cloves garlic, 1/2 red onion 
    Mushrooms ? Any fresh mushrooms?no dried!?except for shitakes
    Amazing!! I followed others' advice & used 2 limes and subbed basil for kefir lime leaves. I also added bamboo shoots. Next time I'm going to cut 2 Roma tomatoes in eighths & add those at the end since I've seen that in restaurants & it would add some color to this otherwise white soup. Other substitutions I had to make included carton chicken stock & lemongrass paste from a tube (used a few tsps. My husband loved it & said make this anytime!!
    This soup is easy & fabulous. I buy cooked rot chick at store & shred; cuts out a step. I serve with frozen dumplings from Asian market. All of my guest enjoy as well & ask for recipe.
    I've made this several times now, and it NEVER fails me! Abolutely YUMMY every time. I add extra garlic and ginger-we like it spicey. So easy and delicious!
    Simple and well liked by everyone I serve it to. Repeat winner!
    This tastes just like the soup I love in the restaurant and with the same price I can make 6 bowls! I added lime zest and 4 lemon grass instead of one. I made my own chicken stock and used the chicken for this soup. So good! I can eat a lot of rice with this soup.
    Absolutely delicious! I used store bought chicken stock and the juice of 2 large limes. Substituted palm sugar for the regular sugar. Almost identical to the soup I get at our favorite Thai restaurant.
    This soup was simply delicious and I highly recommend it! I followed the previous suggestions and used half the limes called for in the recipe (I tripled the recipe for a soup party my girlfriend and I were hosting, so we used 6 limes instead of 12. I'm thinking Tyler used small key limes for this hence the large number of limes. There are a few unique ingredients, but my local asian market had most of them, and the rest came from our local co-op. Still, it was well worth the extra trip to the market. I'll be cooking this one again soon!
    My husband & I went out for Thai Food last night and we had this soup. It was so good and so I decided to make it myself for dinner tonight. This recipe was equally the same. I used my own chicken stock and because I didn't have any kaffir leaves, I used fresh basil instead. A good substitute. I only used juice from 1 lime, don't like it too tart. I also added sliced bamboo shoots. What a great soup, my family loved it. I WILL make this again.
    I used imagine organic chicken stock. added shredded carrots, fresh mushrooms and a cup of brown rice. had to let it simmer longer for the rice but it was well worth it.  
    I prefer a stronger flavor so tripled the chilis, lemon grass and the garlic (my local farmers market was out of lime leaves  
    I cant wait to make this again!
    Delicious!!! Used Rice Noodles and it was amazing!!!! Cannot wait to share with my sisters!
     ; Di from Del Mar
    We make this all the time BUT cut the lime juice in half. WAY TOO limey. You can always add more, but it's hard to take away afterward.
    This really is a five star soup. I recently went to a Thai restaurant with a friend and had coconut soup for the first time and loved it, so I searched for a recipe and this sounded the closest to what I had. It was so good, that my friend said it was better than what we had at the restaurant. Now I have to make the hot and sour soup and I have no doubt it will be five star also...Thanks Tyler :)
    This is the best recipe for Thai Chicken soup I have ever used! Thank you!
    Maybe I made it wrong, but this was a lot of work and not a lot of flavor. I wouldn't make it again.
    I'm so glad that I read the previous review that recommended you cut the lime in half. That amount is perfect. (2 limes) The only other changes I made (besides adding tomato and cauliflower) were to add one teaspoon of red pepper flakes and 1/4 c. of brown sugar. With a little jasmine rice on the side this dish is complete!
    Wow! I never thought I'd be able to make this at home without it being really difficult. This tasted just as good as at the Thai restaurants I've been to and it was incredibly simple to make. I went to an Asian grocery to buy the lemongrass and the kaffir lime leaves. As soon as I cracked the lemongrass and broke the leaves into pieces, I could smell that wonderful aroma of Tom Kha Gai that I love so much. I will be making this all of the time from now on! Thanks for the great recipe, Tyler!
    I'm a big fan of Tom kai gai so I was looking for a recipy, and this recipy was almost same as the one from a Thai restaurant. But like other reviews say, it's too sour if you put all 4 lime juices. I think 2 could be enough, you can taste it then put another one. And it's lighter than what you get at the restaurant, so if you like that creamy texture like the restaurant one, it's better to put one more coconut milk. I usually put it over a cooked rice, it's HEAVENLY!!!!
    This soup was very easy to make. I could not find fish sauce so i used soy sauce instead.Also i used lime zest instead of lime leaves.I added waterchestnut and bean sprouts. Garnished with cilantro and mint . This is a keeper
    My favorite Thai food place is now in a different state then me and I had accepted that I would never have my favorite panang kai again. But with this, all the memories come flooding back! It's so tangy and full of lemongrass and ginger infusion! My husband freaked out when he took his first bite. We ladled this soup over our rice (which we made in our rice cooker with a few cloves and lime juice, which only added more flavor). So good...I need to make this all the time now!!!
    We loved this recipe. I added some fresh vegetables and made rice noodles seperately to eat with the soup. It was filling and delicious. We grated some if the ginger in addition to the slices and that increased the potency of the the ginger. Will definately make agian.
    Excellent soup recipe. Although I did tweak it a bit to my taste as I made it. I didn't have kaffir lime leaves, so I used the zest of two limes. I couldn't find lemongrass, but I did find fresh lemongrass in the tube and used 1T. My juiced limes made 1/4 c of lime juice. I started adding slowly but wound up using all of the juice. I also only used 1T fish sauce (tasted first before adding second tablespon--I suggest readers do the same as fish sauce is strong). I also only used 1/4 t sugar. I liked my recipe on the tart side. Surprisingly! Next time I'm going to make it with red curry paste as one reviewer suggested below. Bottom line, tweak as you like but the basic building blocks of this recipe are excellent and I highly recommend.
    This is a great recipe! I have made this several times as it is written but the last time I made it, I tweaked it a little bit and found the results to be just as good. I added less lime juice, added large strips of lime zest in place of the lime leaves, and added brown sugar instead of the white sugar. I was really pleased with the results. I could eat this soup every day.
    I love this recipe and have made it many times. I think it's up to you to make it the exact way you like it which might take a couple of minor adjustments and trial and error. Here are my adjustments: 
    - Substitute lite coconut milk (makes it less creamy but healthier) 
    - add dried galanga for flavor 
    - extra kaffir lime leaves and lemongrass 
    - LESS lime juice or it is too sour 
    - use red Thai chili paste for flavor, easy to adjust to give it more kick 
    - I sometimes use straw mushrooms or button mushrooms depending on what I have on hand. Both turn out delicious! 
    - top with chopped green onions 
    LOVE LOVE LOVE this recipe!
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