Tom kha gai (Thai coconut soup)

This hot, sweet and sour coconut chicken broth from Andy Oliver makes a great starter or light meal
Tom kha gai (Thai coconut soup)
  • Rating:
  • Serves: 2
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Effort: easy


  • 400 ml coconut milk
  • 400 ml chicken stock
  • 3 small shallots, finely sliced
  • 3 sticks lemongrass, brown ends trimmed
  • 5 coriander roots, (see Cook's note)
  • 4 cm galangal, peeled and sliced (see Cook's note)
  • 7-8 Thai bird's eye chillies
  • 4-5 fresh lime leaves, (see Cook's note)
  • 1 tbsp palm sugar, (see Cook's note) or soft light brown sugar
  • 1 skinless chicken breast, cut into 1cm-thick slices
  • 100 g chanterelle mushrooms, or other wild or button mushrooms
  • 5 baby sweetcorn
  • 1-2 tsp fish sauce, or to taste
  • 1 lime, juice only, or to taste
  • small handful coriander leaves

Tips and Suggestions

If you buy fresh coriander in Asian supermarkets it will often come with the roots attached - these are what you need for this recipe. If you can't find coriander with roots then just use the stalks from a small bunch of coriander.

Galangal is similar in appearance to ginger, but slightly paler in colour and more pointed. If you can't find galangal, use the same quantity of ginger and add a little extra lime juice.

Palm sugar is used to sweeten many South East Asian dishes. It can be bought in hard blocks for grating or as a soft toffee-like mixture for spooning. Either can be used in this recipe.

Fresh lime leaves are available in many Asian supermarkets but are difficult to source elsewhere. You can buy dried lime leaves in the spice section of most supermarkets which will make an acceptable substitute.


1. Pour the coconut milk and chicken stock into a saucepan, place over a medium-high heat and bring to a simmer.

2. Tip the shallots, lemongrass, coriander roots, galangal and chilies into a pestle and mortar and bash a few times to bruise the ingredients. Add these to the pan, along with the lime leaves, and bring back to a simmer.

3. Stir in half the palm sugar and taste. Continue adding the rest of the palm sugar until the soup tastes slightly sweet.

4. Tip in the chicken, chanterelles and corn and simmer for 5 minutes or until the chicken is opaque and cooked through.

5. Add some of the fish sauce and lime juice and taste again. Add more palm sugar, fish sauce and lime juice until you have an even balance of sweet, salty and sour.

6. Ladle the soup into warm serving bowls and scatter over the fresh coriander leaves.

Rate This Recipe