Tom Kha Gai Soup for Dummies

funny name, delicious tasting

funny name, delicious tasting

I recently returned from an exhausting weekend with my parents.

We spent our days eating, shopping, talking about eating and discussing shopping.

Oh, and I almost forgot – we got massages too (my mother is like Santa Claus with boobs).

None of which has anything to do with this soup, except to say that when I returned home I was feeling lazy. Really, really lazy.

Too lazy to cook anything elaborate, so this aromatic Thai soup got tossed together and really hit the spot.

I’ve called it Tom Kha Gai for dummies because in my Caribbean paradise, some of the more traditional ingredients aren’t readily available.

(galangal and kaffir lime leaves, I’m lookin’ at you)

So I did what any decent cook would do and improvised with plain old ginger and lime zest. My unrefined (but very greedy) palate didn’t even notice the difference.

Tom Kha Gai (serves 3-4)

  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1 can full-fat coconut milk
  • 2 large, skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
  • 1 small punnet shitake mushrooms, sliced (this was about 8 mushrooms)
  • 1 small, white onion, finely chopped
  • 1-inch piece root ginger, peeled and finely chopped or grated
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 stalks lemongrass
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • 2 tbsps thai red chili paste
  • the zest of one lime
  • the juice of one lime
  • 1 small bunch fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
  1. Melt the coconut oil in a large saucepan. Add the onion, garlic and ginger. Saute until the onion browns. Pour in the broth.
  2. Bash the lemongrass with a heavy object (I used my wooden spoon) until you can easily pare away the rough outer husk. Chop each stalk into three sections and toss into the pot. Stir in the chili paste.
  3. Bring to a boil then reduce and let simmer for 15 minutes. Take it off the heat and add the lime zest and the mushrooms.
  4. At this point I went away for an hour and did something else. Leaving it like this lets the flavours mingle and will make for a tastier soup but if you are pressed for time you can skip straight to the next step.
  5. Add most of the cilantro, reserving about 2 tbsps worth. Stir in the chicken, fish sauce and coconut milk. Gradually bring to a boil so everything heats through. Pour in the lime juice just before serving and sprinkle each bowl with the remaining cilantro.

NB: If you’ve fussy guests you might want to fish out the lemongrass before serving. I didn’t bother but it’s worth remembering that it’s in there just in case.

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2 thoughts on “Tom Kha Gai Soup for Dummies

  1. I love those shopping and eating weekends with my mom! But you’re right, we’re usually both exhausted at the end of one. 🙂 Your soup looks fabulous and just want Santa (without boobs) ordered for rest and relaxation!

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