Tom Kha Gai (Thai Coconut Soup)


Now that the weather has finally cooled off, we’ve been hungry for hot, comforting meals. Our daughter caught a nasty cold a couple weeks ago, which the hubby and I never caught, thankfully, but I guess it didn’t take long for the diseases to start spreading with the change of seasons. Caught something too? Sorry. Need a soup that basically heals souls and raises the dead? Look no further.


Packed with many of the most powerful superfoods out there, this soup is not only soothing and nourishing, but is also incredibly delicious, “going down easy,” as my mother-in-law would say. It is as cheap or expensive as you’d like it to be. The only problem is it’s not very filling — good for those who are sick or who have tender or healing guts, but a little hard on, say, hungry grown men who prefer meat and potatoes. I know someone like that. He nonetheless savors this soup when I make it, having a palate for more exotic flavors every now and then. The solution for extra-hungry family members: ramen or rice noodles thrown in.

My “recipe” is more like a soup base with a list of optional things that, in any combination, will make a great meal depending on your family’s tastes. I don’t really buy many cuisine-specific ingredients because of budgetary reasons, so if this isn’t authentic enough, too bad. You can change it.

Tom Kha Gai (Thai Coconut Soup) (serves 4-6)

Basic Soup:

2 quarts homemade chicken, beef, or fish stock

8oz ramen or rice noodles (optional) plus an additional 2 C water

8oz button mushrooms, sliced

several handfuls of baby spinach, washed and roughly chopped

2 cans additive-free, full-fat organic coconut milk (or 1 quart homemade coconut milk)

several cloves of garlic, minced

2 C pre-cooked chicken or shrimp

unrefined salt and freshly-ground pepper, to taste

fresh lemons or limes

Optional Add-Ins:

fresh cilantro, chopped

turmeric, fresh or powdered (be sure to pair with black pepper to get the full benefits)

1 sheet of toasted nori (seaweed), broken into pieces

fresh ginger, minced

coconut oil


chili paste or hot sauce or sriracha, though I’ve never tried it*

fish sauce*

Bring stock to a gentle boil; add the mushrooms and spinach, boiling until tender (if using noodles, add them and the water here too, cooking until slightly underdone). Stir in the coconut milk and garlic and bring to a simmer. Turn off heat and add salt, pepper, chicken/shrimp, and fresh-squeezed lemon/lime juice to taste. Add in your favorite extras to send the soup over the top. My favorites are cilantro, turmeric, and lots of fresh ginger.

*Check ingredients carefully if being healthy is your goal!


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