Rich, creamy and deliciously fragrant, my coconut chicken soup is an inspired take on a classic Thai soup called tom kha gai. Easy to prepare with aromatic ingredients including ginger, lemongrass, garlic, lime, fish sauce and creamy coconut milk, this coconut chicken soup recipe is sure to warm your belly and tantalize your tastebuds!
A Simple Take on Classic Tom Kha Gai
Friends, there's just something truly magical about Thai cuisine, with its layers of flavors—sweet and savory, spicy and sour, just to name a few...
Bite after bite of pretty much any Thai dish is full of complex flavor, which makes it one of our favorite cuisines to enjoy when we're craving food that turns our tastebuds on and offers up lots of comfort.
“Tom kha gai” is a classic coconut-based Thai soup that's utterly brimming with flavor and coziness, and a fantastic pick when craving a hot, aromatic bowl of creamy soup filled with flavor.
Because I love tom kha gai so much, I decided to prepare my own inspired take on it using ingredients that may be a little easier to find than some of those traditionally used in the preparation of this scrumptious soup.
Enter my coconut chicken soup recipe, simmered up in no time with fragrant ingredients such as ginger, lemongrass, shallots, garlic, lime peel and lime juice, fish sauce, a touch of brown sugar, plus creamy coconut milk and rich coconut cream.
Served topped with a few red chili slices, cilantro, and lime wedges, and a generous scoop of jasmine rice, a bowl of this coconut chicken soup has an abundance of Thai-inspired flavor infused within it.
It's the perfect comforting recipe to prepare when you're craving some wonderfully complex flavors!
My Recipe For Coconut Chicken Soup
Traditional tom kha gai soup has a couple of ingredients such as galangal (looks a bit like ginger but is not) and kaffir lime leaves, which may not be as easy to find at your local market as some substitutions.
To create a similar flavor, I substitute ginger and use the peel of a whole lime (plus juice) when preparing this tasty coconut chicken soup recipe, and add in a few other aromatic ingredients to give it that classic flavor.
For my recipe here, I add a hefty amount of garlic, lemongrass, shallots, red chili slices, fish sauce and a hint of brown sugar for some mild sweet and savoriness.
I also cook my chicken breast separately...
This ensures that the chicken doesn't overcook in the soup, since I'm actually first creating an aromatic soup “base” that I strain before adding in my coconut milk and cream, along with some mushrooms and the chicken.
Here's a glance at my coconut chicken soup recipe: (or just jump to the full recipe...)
- To get started, I season a couple of split chicken breasts and roast them in the oven just until cooked through.
- While the chicken breasts roast, I prepare the aromatic “base” for my coconut chicken soup by adding to a pot some chicken stock, plus all of my aromatic ingredients, and allow that to gently simmer for about 45 minutes.
- Once the chicken is cooked, I allow it to cool just enough so I can handle it, then discard the skin and bones, and shred the breast meat. Once shredded, I set the chicken aside for a moment.
- When the soup “base” has simmered, I then strain it of all of the aromatics so that it is just a fragrant broth. Into this I stir my coconut milk and coconut cream, then add in some fish sauce, some brown sugar, and lime juice.
- To finish, I add in my shredded chicken and some shiitake, oyster or straw mushrooms, then ladle the soup into bowls, topping it with red chili slices, cilantro, and extra lime, if desired. I like to serve my soup with jasmine rice or noodles, but this is optional.
Coconut Chicken Soup
by Ingrid Beer
This rich coconut chicken soup is inspired by classic tom kha gai soup, brimming with aromatic lemongrass, ginger, lime and fish sauce!
Cuisine: Southeast Asian
Yield: Serves 6
Nutrition Info: 528 calories per serving (soup only)
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook time: 45 minutes
Total time: 1 hour 10 minutes
- 2 skin on, bone-in chicken breasts (1 pair of split chicken breasts)
- Black pepper
- 8 cups chicken stock
- 4 large lemongrass stalks, halved and roughly chopped
- 2 small shallots, sliced
- 2 ½” piece of ginger, peeled and sliced
- 1 small red jalapeno, sliced
- 6 large cloves garlic, smashed
- Peel of 1 lime (use a vegetable peeler for this, and only use the green skin)
- 1 (13.5 ounce) can coconut milk
- 1 (13.5 ounce) can coconut cream
- 1 ½ tablespoons fish sauce
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons lime juice
- 4 to 6 ounces shiitake, oyster or straw mushrooms, thinly sliced
- Sliced red jalapenos, for garnish
- Cilantro leaves, for garnish
- Lime wedges, for garnish
- To begin, gather and prep all of the ingredients according to the ingredient list above to have ready and organized for use.
- Preheat the oven to 400°, and line a baking sheet with foil or parchment paper. Place the chicken breasts onto the baking sheet, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast the chicken for 45 minutes, or until just cooked through.
- Once cooked, cool the chicken just enough to handle it, then discard the skin and bones, and shred the breast meat. Set the meat aside.
- While the chicken roasts, prepare the soup: pour the chicken stock into a large pot, and turn the heat on medium-high. Add in the lemongrass, shallots, ginger, red jalapeno, garlic, and lime peel, and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat and allow the soup to simmer for 45 minutes, uncovered.
- Strain the soup using a fine mesh strainer, and discard the solids so that only the aromatic broth remains. Add the coconut milk and the coconut cream to this hot broth, and stir to combine and allow any thick cream to melt in.
- Next, add in the fish sauce, brown sugar and lime juice, and stir to combine. Taste to see if any additional salt is needed.
- Place the soup back onto medium heat and add in the mushrooms, and allow the soup to simmer for about 5 minutes more, just to heat the mushrooms through.
- To finish and serve the coconut chicken soup, add the shredded chicken into the pot, and stir. Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with slices of red jalapeno, cilantro and lime, or serve with some jasmine rice or rice noodles, if desired.
Tips & Tidbits for my Coconut Chicken Soup recipe:
- Cook your chicken separately for better results: While you could certainly cut your chicken into pieces and cook it directly in the hot soup before serving, I like to prepare my split chicken breasts separately to keep the meat juicy and tender. I simply roast the chicken, then discard skin and bones, shred the meat and add it to the soup at the end.
- Coconut milk and cream for richer soup: I'm opting for both coconut milk and cream for this recipe, as the milk is a little lighter in consistency and the cream adds a bit more richness. You can use all coconut milk if you prefer, or all coconut cream, for even richer (and slightly thicker) results.
- Use galangal and kaffir lime leaves, if you can find them: If you happen to have a Thai or Asian market nearby, you may be able to find galangal and kaffir lime leaves for this recipe. Just substitute about 6 leaves, and use about the same amount of galangal as ginger is called for.
- What to serve with coconut chicken soup: While this rich and comforting soup is perfect on its own, if you'd like to make it a bit more substantial you can serve bowlfuls with a generous scoop of jasmine rice, or even noodles of your choice.