Tom Kha or Thai Coconut Milk Soup
Tom Kha Soup is one of my favorite Thai dishes, so I was thrilled when I received a request for a recipe. Tom Kha is unique in that it’s spicy, it’s sweet, and it’s sour....all in one soup! And it has coconut milk, which might be the best part. Usually Tom Kha is served with chicken or seafood inside, but I am going to teach you a vegetarian Tom Kha, and if you want to add chicken or another meat, that’s up to you.
Different names for Tom Kha that you might see at a Thai restaurant:
Tom Kha Pak: Vegetable Coconut Soup
Tom Kha Gai: Chicken Coconut Soup
Tom Kha Moo: Pork Coconut Soup
Tom Kha Taohoo: Tofu Coconut Soup
Tom Kha Talay: Seafood Coconut Soup
What’s great about making your own soups is you can adjust it to your liking. Play around with the spice level by adding more chilies. Add more sugar or more lime – totally up to you.
This soup probably won’t take you more than 30 minutes to make! The longer you simmer it however, the better it will taste!
What You Need:
Vegetables of your choice – I like tomatoes, baby corns, carrots, mushrooms (all kinds of mushrooms – always a must in Tom Kha) , onions or even whole small shallots, broccoli, cauliflower…..really its up to you.
**If you make a meat version I suggest the meat, mushrooms, and onions or shallots.**
Coconut Milk: At least 4 cups. Try to buy a brand that’s as close to pure coconut milk as possible
Shallots: As many as you want, in this recipe we used about 6 or 7 small ones
Tom Yum Paste: You should be able to find this paste at any grocery store. If yours doesn’t sell it, try an international store such as an Asia food store. It usually comes in a glass jar or a can.
Galangal: A member of the ginger family. You don’t actually eat the galangal in the soup, it’s there for flavor. Its critical in this dish so don’t forget it. I happen to love galangal however, and if its been cooked long enough to be soft I love to chew on it or even eat it. Not many people would though!
* Galangal can be hard to find, you can substitute with regular ginger*
Lemongrass: Another critical component to this soup. Buy it in the whole stalks if possible. *Do not eat the lemongrass.
Keffir Lime Leaves: Keffir lime leaves are hard to find, you can substitute them with extra fresh lime or lime zest.
*Do not eat the keffir lime leaves
Chilies : whole and fresh are desirable, but you can work with any kind of chili, all depends on your preference.
Broth: Either chicken, beef, or vegetable. I use vegetable. 2 cups
1. Slice the whole spices as seen in the photo below. You can leave the shallots and garlic whole if you want.
2. Chop your vegetables however you want. I leave the mushrooms whole unless their hard, baby corn whole, carrots in thicker strips, broccoli and cauliflower in small chunks, tomatoes in small chunks, etc.
3. Fry the shallots, garlic, galangal, lemongrass, keffir lime leaves, chilies (to your spice level), and any other whole spices in coconut oil or another oil or your choice.
4. Scoop in Tom Yum Paste and fry for a few minutes with the whole spices. The amount depends on your flavor preference. I would use 1 large tablespoon for a flavorful and slightly spicy soup. You can add anywhere from 1/2 tablespoon to 2 tablespoons.
5. Pour in 2 cups of broth. Simmer for 6-8 minutes or so.
6. Add 4 cups of coconut milk and simmer for another 10 minutes or so. Taste soup first to see if it needs to cook longer before adding the vegetables. You don’t want the vegetables to get too soft (well I don’t!)
7. Add vegetables and cook until desired texture.
8. Taste and adjust by squeezing lime, putting in fish sauce, and some palm sugar to achieve desired balance of sweetness, saltiness, and sourness.
9. Add cilantro at the end.
** Remember, you can make this soup your own. Add spices and flavor to your liking **