Thai Coconut Soup (Tom Kha)

DSC_0016Usually I have recipe writer’s block. The harder I try to think of something to make, the more I can’t. It’s those times when I buy random ingredients and get home to my pantry and fridge that inspiration strikes. What the heck?! My local market had wild-caught shrimp on sale, which I couldn’t resist, and when I got home I suddenly thought: tom kha! This is a common Thai soup that is really easy to make but has so many layers of complex flavor. Wha-bam! That’s the flavor hitting your tongue.

The only problem is that I didn’t have lemongrass or Thai chili paste that most of the recipes I looked at called for, so I thought…I’m going to solutionize (yes, that’s a made up word) this scenario. I omitted the lemongrass but doubled the lime juice and used sriracha instead of red chili paste. In 5 minutes – plus the time it took me to peel and devein the shrimp – I had a hot, yummy bowl of tom kha in my hands! It might not be 100% authentic but it is 1) easy, 2) fast and 3) a damn good recreation.

Prep time: 5 min     Cook time: 10 min    Makes: ~4 cups


  • 14 oz can full-fat coconut milk
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 lb (500 g) shrimp or chicken breast
  • 1 inch piece of ginger, peeled and sliced into rounds
  • 1 cup sliced mushrooms
  • 2 Tbsp lime juice
  • 1 Tbsp fish sauce (I like Red Boat Fish Sauce)
  • 1 tsp sriracha (or red chili paste)
  • Chopped cilantro for garnish


  1. Prepare the shrimp by peeling and deveining if not already done prior to purchase. If using chicken, clean the chicken of any connective tissue and cut into small chunks.
  2. In a pot over medium heat, combine the coconut milk, chicken stock and ginger. Bring the liquid to a boil then reduce heat to a simmer.
  3. Add the shrimp or chicken, mushrooms, lime juice, fish sauce and sriracha. Simmer until the shrimp (less than 5 min) or the chicken (5-10 minutes) is cooked through.
  4. Top with fresh chopped cilantro for garnish.

10 thoughts on “Thai Coconut Soup (Tom Kha)

  1. YES! PERFECT! Shrimp is on sale out here too, I will definitely make some of this this weekend. And I can never find lemongrass, though I do have the chili pasts :)

  2. I was sitting in my living room the other day craving thai with an abnormal amount of coconut ingredients. I think I will be making a version of this, this weekend. Thanks for the reminder.

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