Chicken and Galangal Coconut Soup - Tom Kha Gai

Creamy, salty, naturally sweet and a little bit sour… This perfectly sums up this amazing and flavorful soup that can be prepared in almost the same amount of time that it takes you to offer and serve a drink to your guests!  Seriously, once your ingredients have been mise-en-placed (i.e, measured out and ready to go), it takes about 5-7 minutes to prepare this soup that is so emblematic of Thai cuisine.  As for the ingredients, they are not commonly found in regular grocery stores.  Therefore, I encourage you to seek an Asian market in your area. 


Serves 4


2 cups chicken stock

1 stalk lemongrass, cut into ½ inch pieces

2-inch piece galangal, thinly sliced

4 kaffir lime leaves, torn into pieces

2 shallots, roughly chopped

1 cup chopped tomatoes

2 cups sliced mushrooms

3 ½ cups (2-13.5 oz. cans) coconut milk

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs or breasts, thinly sliced against the grain

2-3 bird’s eye chili peppers, slightly crushed

¼ cup fish sauce

2 teaspoons sugar

1 tablespoon lime juice

Salt to taste

½ cup packed fresh cilantro leaves

2 scallions, finely sliced



Place chicken stock in a medium saucepan.  Add the lemongrass, galangal, kaffir lime leaves and shallots.  Note that the lemongrass, galangal, kaffir lime leaves and shallots are aromatics and are not meant to be consumed.  If you prefer, you may wrap these aromatics in a cheese cloth so you can easily remove them prior to serving. Otherwise, do as the Thai and leave them in the bottom of the bowl.  


Add the tomatoes and sliced mushrooms and bring the contents of the pan to a boil.  Reduce the heat to low and add the coconut milk, chicken, and bird’s eye chili pepper.  Add the fish sauce and sugar.  Cook until the chicken is fully cooked, about 2-3 minutes.  Remove the pan from the heat season with the lime juice and salt, to taste. Garnish with cilantro and scallions right before serving.