This Thai soup is my FAVOURITE thing to order from our local Thai takeaway. A spicy soup, made with coconut milk, galangal (more on this later), lemongrass, shiitake mushrooms, chillies and chicken. I’m not kidding, it will blow your mind!

It makes a fantastic lunch or starter, or you can serve it with a bowl of boiled rice for dinner. Take a spoonful of rice and dunk it in the soup. Bliss!

Close up of a spoonful of soup being taken from a bowl of Tom Kha Gai - a Thai chicken soup with coconut milk and galangal. The soup is in a white bowl on a light background. The soup is garnished with fresh coriander.

There’s a fantastic Thai restaurant up the road from me – which is where I was introduced to Tom Kha Gai.
I wasn’t hugely hungry, so I just ordered some soup. One that I hadn’t tried before.

First taste and I was totally hooked. Now I order it every time!

I decided to figure out how to make it at home. But just for those days when I’m in a soup-making mood. I still love my local takeaway 😍

What is Tom Kah Gai?

It’s a spicy Thai coconut soup with galangal and chicken.
Tom = soup, Kah = galangal, Gai = chicken

Tom Kha versus Tom Yum

Tom Kha is a creamy-spicy soup, made with coconut milk, whereas Tom Yum is a non-creamy, hot and sour soup, often containing prawns (shrimp).

📋 What do we need?

Ingredients for Tom Kha Gai Soup on a wooden board.
  • Galangal – this single most important ingredient in this recipe. You can use fresh, but I use galangal paste for simplity.
  • Chicken – Use cooked, shredded chicken thighs to make this soup extra speedy.
  • Coconut milk – Use full fat, NOT half-fat. Full-fat = creamier and won’t split when heated in the pan.
  • Mushrooms – I’m using shiitake, but you can use your favourite mushrooms
  • Lemongrass – you can use lemongrass paste, but I think fresh, sliced lemongrass makes a big difference to this dish
  • Red Thai Curry Paste – to give it that lovely flavour and colour

📺 Watch how to make it

Full recipe with detailed steps in the recipe card at the end of this post.

👩‍🍳PRO TIP Some people like to scoop out the lemongrass, but the light citrus tang and crunch of it in this soup works perfectly!

I love to finish with a few drops of chilli oil and a sprinkling of coriander (cilantro).

Tom Kha Gai - Thai chicken soup with coconut milk and galangal - in a white bowl on a light background. The soup is garnished with lime slices and coriander. There is a spoon, napkin and further slices of lime around the bowl. A second bowl of soup is just in shot.

🍽️ What is galangal?

Fresh galangal and galangal paste on a board next to each other.
  • Although it looks similar to ginger, and is from the same family, galangal is less spicy and more citrus-tasting than ginger.
  • Ginger has darker skin and softer flesh.
  • You can’t swap it out for ginger – especially in this soup. The ‘Kha’ in ‘Tom Kha Gai’ literally means galangal.
  • Galangal is a lot tougher than ginger, which makes it difficult to slice, Be very careful if slicing!
  • I prefer to use galangal paste, as I’m a bit clumsy.

Tom Kha Gai - Thai chicken soup with coconut milk and galangal - in a white bowl on a light background. The soup is garnished with lime slices and coriander. There is a second bowl of soup in the background with a black spoon in it.

🍲 More Thai-inspired recipes

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5 from 8 votes

Tom Kha Soup

A spicy soup, made with coconut milk, galangal, lemongrass, shiitake mushrooms, chillies and chicken. I'm not kidding, it will blow your mind!
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Servings: 4 – 6 servings
Course: Appetizer, Dinner, Lunch
Cuisine: Thai


  • 1 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 1 onion peeled and finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic peeled and minced
  • 2 tsp galangal paste or a 2cm piece of galangal, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 lemon grass stalk tough outer leaves removed and inner stalk sliced finely (or 1 tsp lemongrass paste)
  • 4 kaffir lime leaves
  • 2 red chillies sliced (I use milder fresno chillies, but you can replace with Thai chillies if you like it spicier)
  • 10 shiitake mushrooms sliced in half
  • 1 tbsp red Thai curry paste
  • 1 litre good quality chicken stock
  • 400 ml (14 oz) can of coconut milk
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 tbsp light brown sugar
  • juice of 1 lime about 2 tbsp
  • 6 cooked chicken thigh fillets shredded

Optional – it you want to thicken the soup slightly:

  • 1 tbsp cornflour (cornstarch) mixed with 3 tbsp cold water to form a paste/slurry

To Serve:

  • small bunch fresh coriander roughly torn
  • 2 tsp chilli oil for drizzling
  • 1 lime sliced


  • Heat the oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat.
    1 tbsp sunflower oil
  • Add the onion and cook for 5 minutes, stirring often, until softened.
    1 onion
  • Add the garlic, galangal paste, lemongrass, lime leaves, chillies, mushrooms, and Thai curry paste. Cook for one minute, stirring often.
    3 cloves garlic, 2 tsp galangal paste, 1 lemon grass stalk, 4 kaffir lime leaves, 2 red chillies, 10 shiitake mushrooms, 1 tbsp red Thai curry paste
  • Add the chicken stock, coconut milk, fish sauce, sugar, lime juice, and shredded chicken.
    1 litre good quality chicken stock, 400 ml (14 oz) can of coconut milk, 1 tbsp fish sauce, 1 tbsp light brown sugar, juice of 1 lime, 6 cooked chicken thigh fillets
  • Bring to the boil and simmer for 5-6 minutes, until the chicken is fully heated through. If you would like to thicken the soup at all, slowly pour in the cornflour/water slurry, whilst stirring.
    1 tbsp cornflour (cornstarch) mixed with 3 tbsp cold water to form a paste/slurry
  • Taste the soup and season with a little salt and pepper if needed.
  • Divide between bowls, then top with fresh coriander and drizzle with a little chilli oil. Top with slices of lime before serving.
    small bunch fresh coriander, 2 tsp chilli oil for drizzling, 1 lime



Make it vegetarian?
Yes, leave out the chicken, or swap it for a vegetarian chicken alternative (i.e Linda McCartney’s vegetarian chicken pieces or Meatless Farm vegetarian chicken breast).
Swap the chicken stock for good quality vegetable stock.
I would also add some extra mushrooms.
Can I make it ahead?
Yes, you can make the soup, then cool, cover and refrigerate. Reheat in a pan, over a medium heat, stirring occasionally, until piping hot.
Nutritional information is per serving, based on this recipe serving 6 people.


Calories: 337kcal | Carbohydrates: 12g | Protein: 22g | Fat: 24g | Saturated Fat: 15g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 6g | Cholesterol: 57mg | Sodium: 943mg | Potassium: 513mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 576IU | Vitamin C: 29mg | Calcium: 47mg | Iron: 4mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Some of the links in this post may be affiliate links – which means if you buy the product I get a small commission (at no extra cost to you). If you do buy, then thank you! That’s what helps us to keep Kitchen Sanctuary running. The nutritional information provided is approximate and can vary depending on several factors. For more information please see our Terms & Conditions.

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Hi, I'm Nicky and I love to cook! I want to share with you my favourite, delicious family friendly recipes. I want to inspire you to create fantastic food for your family every day.

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  1. 5 stars
    So aromatherapy c and ABSOLUTELY delicious. MAJOR BONUS is that ll of my kids love it as well…ages 9, 13, and 15.
    I also add large stewed tomatoes to mine which add more texture.