Tom Kha Gai Thai Chicken Soup
Yesterday I decided to get a Thai massage. I suffer from a stiff neck and shoulders. For some reason, I hold all my tension in there! I love a good hot oil massage but the Thai massage is, well slightly different. More ‘painful’ but today I can move really freely and feel great! The woman was literally walking up my legs and back, digging her knees and elbows into me and making me yelp! However, ‘no pain no gain’ as they say, and today I can honestly say I feel great after it. And yes, all that gave me the inspiration to make Tom Kha Gai Thai chicken soup.
Thai Food Inspiration
While I was having this massage, I was listening to Thai music, gazing around the room at Buddha statues, candles and Thai pictures, and afterwards sipping a Thai tea. So I guess I got a craving for Thai food! For this reason I decided to make tom kha gai, or Thai chicken soup, for lunch once I got home. I had most of the ingredients already, I just needed to grab some chicken and cilantro.
I found this quick and easy to put together and the flavor was wonderful. Making the chicken broth before sieving the ‘bits’ out and using it to make the actual soup is recommended. Just begin with all the ingredients laid out, plus one pot, one sieve and a serving bowl and spoon, and you will find this an absolute breeze to prepare.
You can switch the chicken thighs for breast but do NOT overcook it! Chicken breast is lean and yes, it has some flavor, but it dries out super-quick if you cook it too long while the thigh meat is more forgiving in Tom Kha Gai Thai chicken soup.
Some people use tofu to make this soup and, while that isn’t a traditional Thai ingredient, at least not in this soup, it does work. You could even use shrimp (prawns) but they will be cooked in about 2 minutes, so add them later than you would add the chicken.
Modifications for Gluten-Free or Low Carb
Use gluten-free chicken stock and fish sauce if you are eating a gluten-free diet, or swap the palm sugar/brown sugar for artificial sweetener if you are diabetic/eating low carb, or just prefer not to have sugar.
Although this recipe makes 4 servings of Tom Kha Gai Thai chicken soup, I admit it was so yummy I had 2 servings for lunch (instead of 1) and I am going to have the other half tomorrow! I will just reheat it in a pan on the stove until nearly boiling, then enjoy. This soup is authentic, yummy and really, really worth making, I promise you!
I changed the original tom kha gai recipe to make it quicker and easier to prepare without losing the authentic flavor, and this recipe really delivers. Serve it for lunch or dinner, or even in small bowls as an appetizer before your evening meal. So could you make crockpot Thai soup? Well probably but don’t add the cilantro until the very end.
- 2 fresh lemongrass sticks, in 2-inch (5cm) pieces (or 2 teaspoons bottled chopped lemongrass)
- 3 cups (750ml) chicken stock
- 1 tablespoon (20g) fresh galangal, peeled and thick-sliced (or 2 teaspoons bottled chopped galangal)
- 2 teaspoons cilantro (fresh coriander) roots and stems
- 4 kaffir lime leaves
- 1 lb (450g) thinly sliced chicken thigh fillets
- 7 oz (200g) sliced mushrooms
- 2 tablespoons lime juice
- 1 cup (250ml) coconut milk
- 1 teaspoon grated palm sugar or brown sugar
- 1 or 2 seeded, thinly sliced fresh Thai red chilies
- 2 tablespoons fish sauce
- 2 shredded fresh kaffir lime leaves (optional)
- 1 thinly sliced fresh lemongrass stick (optional)
- Handful of cilantro (fresh coriander) leaves
- If you're using fresh lemongrass, cut it into 2-inch (5cm) pieces and bash them with a kitchen knife to help release the flavor.
- Put the stock in a pan with the lemongrass, galangal, cilantro roots and stems, and whole lime leaves.
- Bring to a boil then turn the heat down and simmer for 15 minutes.
- Strain the stock into a bowl.
- Rinse out the pot then return the strained stock into there.
- Add the chicken and mushrooms.
- Bring to a boil then turn down the heat and simmer until the chicken is cooked (about 5 minutes).
- Now you can stir in the lime juice, coconut milk, sugar, chilies and fish sauce.
- Heat the soup through until it is almost boiling but not quite.
- Stir in the kaffir lime leaves and lemongrass (if using) and the cilantro, then serve hot.
I didn't have kaffir lime leaves either but just added some extra lime juice to the soup and it worked well.
I used light coconut milk and that worked fine.