Authentic Tom Kha Gai – a simple delicious recipe for one of Thailand’s most popular soups! Full of fragrant Thai ingredients like lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, ginger, and galanga root, this Thai Coconut Chicken Soup can be made on the stovetop or in an Instant Pot. Paleo, Gluten-free and Vegan-adaptable. Includes a Video!

Authentic Tom Kha Gai (Thai Coconut Chicken Soup), an healthy, paleo recipe that can be made in an instant pot. Gluten-free and Vegan Adaptable! #tomkha #thaisoup #tomkhagai #chickensoup #instantpotI would say that there exist a thousand unbreakable links between each of us and everything else, and that our dignity and our chances are one. The farthest star and the mud at our feet are a family; and there is no decency or sense in honoring one thing, or a few things, and then closing the list. ~Mary Oliver 

This authentic recipe for Tom Kha Gai (Thai Coconut Chicken Soup) is full of amazing flavor and can be made quickly and easily on the stovetop or in an Instant Pot pressure cooker.

What makes this recipe for Tom Kha Gai recipe truly authentic, is the use of galangal root. 

What Does Tom Kha Gai mean? 

Tom Kha Gai translates to Chicken Soup with Galangal.  Tom means SOUP, Kha means GALANGAL and Gai means Chicken.

So Galangal root is the star of the dish. And believe me, it will elevate. Galangal is hard to find at regular grocery stores and may require a trip to your local Asian Market, but trust me when I tell you, you’ll love yourself for it. So will your family.

And what is nice is, you can buy extra galangal root and kaffir lime leaves and freeze them for future use, because I promise you’ll want to make this soup again. Soon!

The rich, fragrant coconut broth is especially comforting when feeling under the weather.

Watch How to make Toma Kha Gai! | 60-sec video


Authentic Tom Kha Gai Soup (Thai Coconut Chicken Soup) - a healthy, delicious and easy recipe that can be made in an Instant Pot or on the stove top. Vegan Adaptable! #tomkha #thaisoup #tomkhagai #paleo #keto #thaichickensoup #galangal #coconutsoup #traditional

What is Galangal Root? 

Galangal root (also called galanga)  looks very much like ginger but tastes very very different. It has an exotic pine flavor, that in my opinion, totally makes the soup. Like I mentioned above, the word Kha means galangal.  So don’t make the soup, until you have time to go to the Asian Market.  Trust me.  😉

While you are there, pick up some kaffir lime leaves, fresh ginger and lemongrass. Both the galangal and the kaffir lime leaves may be in the frozen section of the market. You may also find chopped frozen lemongrass, which I happen to love because then there is always some on hand in the freezer.

While I haven’t made a vegan version of this yet, I know it is possible using tofu (or fried tofu) and this vegan fish sauce.

Tom Yum vs Tom Kha 

The primary difference between Tom Yum and Tom Kha is that Tom Kha is richer and creamier with the addition of coconut milk. Tom Yum Soup is brothy, spicy, and sour and typically made with a spicy paste. Tom Kha is rich and creamy, with sweeter notes.

Authentic Tom Kha Gai Soup (Thai Coconut Chicken Soup) - a healthy, delicious and easy recipe that can be made in an Instant Pot or on the stove top. Vegan Adaptable! #tomkha #thaisoup #tomkhagai #paleo #keto #thaichickensoup #galangal #coconutsoup #traditional

You’ll need about a quarter cup of both galangal and ginger and just a heads up- you don’t need to peel the ginger or the galangal, just thinly slice. There are some who believe ginger doesn’t belong in Tom Kha, but I still like to add both. Up to you.

thai red chilies fresh

Thai red chilies are a nice addition to the soup too, but you can also use chili paste.

Authentic Tom Kha Gai Soup (Thai Coconut Chicken Soup) - a healthy, delicious and easy recipe that can be made in an Instant Pot or on the stove top. Vegan Adaptable! #tomkha #thaisoup #tomkhagai #paleo #keto #thaichickensoup #galangal #coconutsoup #traditional

Authentic Tom Kha Gai Soup (Thai Coconut Chicken Soup) - a healthy, delicious and easy recipe that can be made in an Instant Pot or on the stove top. Vegan Adaptable! #tomkha #thaisoup #tomkhagai #paleo #keto #thaichickensoup #galangal #coconutsoup #traditional

Make the Tom Kha Gai in an Instant Pot with chicken breast or chicken thighs, or cook it more authentically on the stovetop. Your choice!

The instant pot version is very quick and easy- just put it all in the pot and set.

When it’s done squeeze with fresh lime and serve in bowls. Feel free to add cilantro.

Authentic Tom Kha Gai Soup (Thai Coconut Chicken Soup) - a healthy, delicious and easy recipe that can be made in an Instant Pot or on the stove top. Vegan Adaptable! #tomkha #thaisoup #tomkhagai #paleo #keto #thaichickensoup #galangal #coconutsoup #traditional

Enjoy this Tom Kha Gai – a warming Coconut Chicken soup that is full of amazing Thai flavor.

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Authentic Tom Kha Gai Soup (Thai Coconut Chicken Soup) - a healthy, delicious and easy recipe that can be made in an Instant Pot or on the stove top. Vegan Adaptable! #tomkha #thaisoup #tomkhagai #paleo #keto #thaichickensoup #galangal #coconutsoup #traditional

Authentic Tom Kha Gai Soup

  • Author: Sylvia Fountaine
  • Prep Time: 10
  • Cook Time: 20
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 8 cups ( 4 servings) 1x
  • Category: soup, gluten-free, vegan-adaptable
  • Method: instant pot, stove top, pressure cooker
  • Cuisine: Thai

Description

Learn how to make authentic Tom Kha Gai (Thai Coconut Chicken Soup) with this simple delicious recipe. Can be made in an Instant Pot or on the stove top. Gluten-free and vegan adaptable! Updated 3/20 ( see notes)


Ingredients

Scale
  • 12 shallots, diced
  • ¼ cup ginger, sliced into ⅛ inch thick disks, skins ok ( 2 inch piece)
  • ¼ cup galangal root, sliced into ⅛ thick disks, skins ok ( 2 inch piece)
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped lemongrass– or use lemongrass paste.
  • 8 kaffir lime leaves
  • 2 cups chicken broth or veggie broth
  • 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken- whole breasts or thighs (or sub 1 pound crispy Tofu)
  • 8 ounces mushrooms (oyster, shiitake, cremini, or straw mushrooms) or sub other veggies like bell pepper, snow peas, etc.
  • 24 fresh Thai Chilies, or add chili paste to taste at the end
  • 3 tablespoons fish sauce (or sub vegan fish sauce)
  • 1 ½ teaspoons salt

————–

  • 2 x 14-ounce cans of  coconut milk (full fat)
  • 3 tablespoons lime juice ( 12 small limes) to taste
  • 2 teaspoons palm, coconut or brown sugar

Serve this on its own, over rice or rice noodles!


Instructions

Instant Pot Instructions:

  • Place everything in the instant pot except lime juice, coconut milk and sugar – leaving the chicken thighs or breasts whole. Don’t forget the salt. Give a stir. 🙂
  • If using chicken breasts, pressure cook on high pressure for 7 minutes, or 10 minutes for thighs. If using tofu, pressure cook 4 minutes.
  • Naturally release for 10-15 minutes. Shred the chicken into bite sized pieces using two forks and add the coconut milk, sugar and lime juice. Taste- adjust salt, lime and spicy heat. Serve with a lime wedge.

Stove Top Cooking instructions:

  • Slice the chicken into thin bitesized pieces ( across the grain) and season with salt and pepper and set aside.
  • In large heavy bottom pot or dutch oven, saute shallot in a little oil over medium heat. Add ginger, lemongrass, lime leaves and  galalagal and 2 cups broth and simmer gently for 5 minutes, letting the broth infuse. Add the chicken (or tofu) and mushrooms and gently poach, simmering for 3-4 minutes or until chicken is just cooked through. Stir in the coconut milk, fish sauce, chilies, and salt and bring to a gentle simmer. Add the lime juice and sugar. Taste. Adjust salt and lime and the spice level by adding more chili paste.

Notes

It may smell “fishy” at first, but after you add the lime juice, it will all balance and mellow out.

When making the stove top version, sometimes I’ll poach whole chicken breasts in the infused broth (covered) then shred with 2 forks- a little longer cooking time, but no pre-cutting required. Then add the remaining ingredients. 🙂

Boiling coconut milk will take some it’s lovely sweetness away, so don’t over boil it or over cook it, just simmer gently and not for too long. 🙂

To make a vegan version, sub veggie broth for the chicken broth. Add crispy tofu. ( Pan- sear cubes of tofu in a skillet, with olive oil, salt and pepper) Add other veggies if  you like! Sub vegan fish sauce for regular fish sauce.

Feel free to serve over rice or rice noodles.

RECIPE UPDATE: I changed the Instant Pot version, to add the 2 cans of  coconut milk AFTER pressure cooking. Some folks were having issues with the coconut milk curdling during the pressure cooking.

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1 1/2 cups using chicken breast
  • Calories: 461
  • Sugar: 3.4 g
  • Sodium: 1123.7 mg
  • Fat: 33.9 g
  • Saturated Fat: 28.3 g
  • Carbohydrates: 9.5 g
  • Fiber: 0.7 g
  • Protein: 25.6 g
  • Cholesterol: 66.2 mg

Keywords: instant pot tom kha gai, tom kha gai soup, tom aha recipe, authentic tom aha gai soup, vegan tom kha recipe,

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Comments

  1. The soup was simple and quick to make, but the chunks of ginger and lemongrass were just not at all good. Maybe it’s just my taste, but I found this soup incredibly hard to eat.

    1. Sorry about that- it is pretty typically to serve it this way with the big chunks in the soup- have you tried it at a restaurant before? You can always fish them out beforehand too.

  2. How do you get 8 cups from this recipe when there is only 2 cups of liquid in the ingredients list. I think I might get 4 or 5 cups.

  3. This was my first time making Tom kha gai and omg – it was better than the restaurant that got me hooked on it!

    1. I’m not sure Tara- I personally have not tried freezing. It should be ok? Coconut milk may separate, but give agood stir.

  4. This was delicious! I think it would have been even better if I’d had everything as recommended. I had to substitute bonito flakes since I didn’t have fish sauce. The galangal and makrut lime leaves really do make the flavor pop! 3/4 kids, husband, and I highly approved. I’m going to try this again when I’ve gotten some fish sauce and will try it to accompany pad Thai as these are my favorite Thai dishes.

  5. Very delicious soup. One of my favourite soups. It has an authentic Thai taste.
    When I put the coriander in at the end, it just brought it to life.
    I’ll definately be making this again.
    Thanks for the recipe

  6. I made this tonight, added mushrooms and omitted the chili’s cause I wasn’t in the mood for the heat. I’ve tried other Tom kha Gai recipes and THIS is the one I’m keeping.

  7. This recipe is so delicious, so tasty, so easy to make! I have made this recipe several times and each time it taste better. Give it a try, but you must use the galangal root. You can find all the ingredients on Amazon, and then freeze for future use as I have done. My compliments to the Chef!!

  8. This soup was such a hit- amazing flavors and textures! While ingredient prep was not quick, the process of cooking it on the stovetop was a breeze. I added extra fish sauce and lime juice for depth of flavor.

  9. I have made this soup many times and love it. Today I find myself with out the fresh galangal. What are your thoughts about using dried?

  10. Loved this recipe!! How do you suggest storing the leftovers? Will leaving the aromatics in the leftovers make the flavor too strong? Thanks!

  11. I’ve cook this recipe before and it was lovely! This time I have no lemongrass – help!

  12. Our favorite thai restaurant has a to die for Tom Kha that when we do eat out with usually regular there because of how good it is, and how difficult I thought it would be to make at home. Thank you for this recipe and breaking the thought it my mind that it was something I could not replicate at home because it is 99% spot on! I’m making a second batch now and just need to cook my noodle a bit longer (which has nothing to do with your recipe) and it will be PERFECT. I found all ingredients at our asian market thankfully but was prepared to order it all on amazon because I love tom Kha so much. Next time will do with shrimp as my family likes that protein as well with this soup. Thank you for another wonderful recipe! SO glad I found your blog!

  13. So delicious!! Made this working from home on my lunch break. In Perf time. She’s a winner, healthy, easy and sooooooo yummy.

  14. My dad is super hard to please and as soon as he tasted this he said, “oh wow, this is so authentic!” and my whole family loved it. I was worried because the Asian market I went to was out of lime leaves, but I substituted the zest of three small limes and two bay leaves and it came out great.

  15. Hello Everyone-

    I am writing from Everett, WA…outside of Thailand…. perhaps MORE Thai restaurants and people from Thailand than anywhere else in the world.

    While I have never been to Thailand, I have eaten Tom Kha Gai at more than a dozen Thai restaurants in the Pacific NW.

    Unfortunately, this recipe IS NOT correct.

    in addition to the dozens of Thai restaurants in the Pacific NW, we also have DOZENS of authentic everything Pacific Rim grocery stores.

    I followed this recipe to the letter and it did not even come close to what one can find at (for example) Tasters Wok in Lynnwood, WA.

    IT WAS WAY TO SALTY. (I use RED BOAT #40 Fish Sauce)

    If you try this recipe, PLEASE do not add the 1.5 t salt and limit the Fish Sauce to 1 or 2 tablespoons (at first).

    BTW, I used organic reduced sodium chicken broth.

    I may try this recipe again…. but will first talk to some local Thai cooks to find out what the error is with this recipe.

    I mean no disrespect to Sylvia…. I am merely trying to pass on my findings to everyone.

    The ingredients are not cheap… so be advised.

    Good Luck!

    1. Hummm, sorry about that. Really dont know what could have happened here. Did you add both cans of coconut milk?

  16. I love this soup. Previous attempts, using different recipes, were disappointing. This recipe is excellent. I actually have a kefir lime plant that a co-worker found for me a couple of years ago when we were both into Thai cooking. I used boneless, skinless chicken thighs. My local Central Market carries all the rest of the aromatics so assembling the ingredients was not difficult. I already had some button mushrooms that I needed to use or throw away so I used them and they were fine but I will definitely try one of the more exotic type mushrooms when I make it next time.

  17. This is my third time making this soup as my son and family keep asking for more👍🏻 The flavours are very authentic and it is super easy to make

  18. Absolutely delicious. I bought extra ingredients the second time I made it and gave the extra ingredients to my mom and sister with copies of the recipe. This is definitely a recipe worth sharing and making weekly! I love it!

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Hi, I'm Sylvia!

Chef and author of the whole-foods recipe blog, Feasting at Home, Sylvia Fountaine is a former restaurant owner and caterer turned full-time food blogger. She currently lives in the Pacific Northwest and shares seasonal, healthy recipes along with tips and tricks from her home kitchen.

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