How to Make Authentic Tom Kha Soup (Thai Coconut Soup With Shrimp)
Do you ever wish you could make your own restaurant-quality Thai food at home? There are a lot of great Thai curry recipes on the interwebs, but it’s hard to know what will end up tasting authentic. And there’s always the time consideration: Which authentic Thai recipes have a short enough cook time that you can reasonably give them a try on a weeknight?
Tom Kha is a great place to start. There are usually at least two soups listed on the menu at a typical Thai restaurant: Tom Kha and Tom Yum. The former is a creamy, slightly sour coconut soup, usually featuring some sort of mushroom, cilantro, and very light veggies like baby corn. If it contains chicken, it’s called Tom Kha Gai. With shrimp, it’s Tom Kha Goong. Tom Yum is a clear, brothy soup, much more sour, sweet, and spicy, and is usually made with shrimp.
We’re going to create a hearty Tom Kha Goong, featuring Kettle & Fire bone broth and a few more veggies than the more traditional recipes. This way, you’re making a one-pot meal with everything you need to leave you feeling full and satisfied, without a ton of kitchen clean up or fuss. This recipe feeds six to eight, so you’ll have leftovers for another night.
Collecting Your Ingredients
If you don’t love shrimp or have a shellfish allergy, feel free to substitute the shrimp for boneless chicken breast, cut into cubes, and account for a slightly longer cooking time to ensure the chicken is cooked all the way through. Your Thai coconut chicken soup will be just as delicious as our shrimp version!
The most authentic recipes for this Thai coconut soup feature a few ingredients that might not be familiar to the average American home cook. It’s likely you’ll need to plan a trip to an Asian market and factor that into your night of cooking. It’s also possible that your local Whole Foods or comparable high-end grocery store with a large variety in the produce section could have everything you need.
Unlike other recipes with obscure ingredients, almost everything you need for this recipe will be used up during cooking, so you won’t have a pile of unusual ingredients lingering in your kitchen that you don’t know what to do with. Anything you don’t use completely will freeze well or keep for a long time. The fish sauce, for example, is fermented, so it lasts a long time, and it can be a great source of unexpected umami in future dishes.
The original ingredients intended for this soup can be replaced with more familiar and easy-to-find alternatives. You’ll definitely enjoy the finished product, but it might not be exactly like what you’ll find at your local Thai restaurant. You might also come across recipes that forego many of the ingredients we’ve listed and opt instead for a few scoops of store-bought red curry paste. This soup dish isn’t intended as a curry, so we recommend sticking to the individual ingredients for a lighter, truer flavor.
Admittedly, we’re already going to be making a version of this Thai dish that’s slightly different because we’re adding a lot more veggies than the standard Tom Kha, but the flavors will all be there. In truth, most of these veggies will be in one version or another of this soup – we just chose to include them all in one bowl, giving us a beautiful rainbow of veggies.
Everything that isn’t in a standard, restaurant-style Tom Kha has been listed as optional in our ingredients list below. Here are the subs you can make if you don’t have time to get to the Asian market:
|Fresh galangal root||Fresh ginger (1:1)|
|Fresh lemongrass (1 stalk)||Fresh lemon zest (1 teaspoon)|
|Fresh kaffir lime leaves (10 leaves)||Fresh lime zest (1 whole lime)|
|Thai chili peppers||Dried cayenne peppers or serrano chilis|
|Coconut palm sugar||Brown sugar|
|Sesame oil||Extra-virgin olive oil or coconut oil|
Veggie-Packed Authentic Tom Kha Goong
Learn how to make delicious Tom Kha soup with bone broth, creamy coconut milk, fresh shrimp, unique veggies, and tons of authentic flavor.
- 3 Tbsp. sesame oil
- 2 lbs. shrimp peeled and defrosted
- 4 shallots sliced
- 1 red bell pepper thinly sliced
- 4 stalks lemongrass only the bottom white parts, cut into 2-inch long pieces and smashed with a mallet
- 3-inch long section fresh galangal root thinly sliced
- 20-25 fresh kaffir lime leaves mashed in your hand (crunch them in your fist to release the aroma)
- 3 cups fresh cilantro plus more for garnish (about 30 sprigs, stems and leaves included)
- 6 cups Kettle & Fire Chicken Bone Broth
- 4 cups water
- 1 Tbsp. coconut palm sugar
- 6 oz. mushrooms oyster, straw, cremini, or button
- One 15-ounce can baby corn
- 2 carrots shredded
- 1 Tbsp. soy sauce or tamari if you’re gluten-free, plus more to taste
- 3-5 Thai chilis depending on how spicy you want it
- 1/2 cup fish sauce
- 3 cups full-fat coconut milk
- Juice of 3 limes plus more for garnish
- 1 Chinese eggplant cubed
- 8 oz. sugar snap peas
- 10 grape tomatoes sliced in half long-ways
- One 15-ounce can sliced bamboo shoots
- Sriracha for extra spice
Warm the pot to medium heat and add sesame oil.
Add shallots and bell peppers and saute until aromatic.
Add shrimp and stir until mostly cooked.
Remove everything from the pot and set aside.
Add chicken broth, water, lemongrass, galangal, kaffir lime leaves, and cilantro to the pot.
Simmer on medium-high heat for 10 minutes, then strain out the herbs using a fine mesh sieve and discard.
While the broth is cooking, cube the eggplant, shred the carrots, and chop the mushrooms to the size of your preference.
Lower the heat to simmering and add coconut sugar. Stir to let it dissolve.
Add all veggies except the tomatoes, Thai chilis, and scallions.
Stir in soy sauce, and cover the pot for 10 more minutes.
Turn heat off and add shrimp mixture, fish sauce, coconut milk, and the lime juice.
Serve immediately with garnishes of cilantro, lime, additional thai chilis, and sriracha.
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