Tom Kah Gai

On the third day of Christmas, there was cold and flu season. Yes, while this seems odd to include in a Christmas countdown,  no one is immune to the common cold. What’s more, it tends to strike around the least opportune times (i.e., during the holidays, when we have better stuff to do than being stuffed up.) Clear your sinuses with my favorite remedy, this Thai Coconut Chicken Soup.

This Thai Coconut Chicken Soup is riff on the classic Tom Kah Gai, the delicious coconut milk soup served at every Thai restaurant. It includes mushrooms and red bell pepper, (for their anti-inflammatory properties, mostly because I love them) but you can add almost any vegetable you desire.

As with most Asian soups, the broth of this Coconut Chicken Soup is the key. This one is bolstered with lemongrass, lime, a little brown sugar, ginger, and nam plah, a.k.a. fish sauce. Those of you who steer away from fish sauce, please don’t. It’s not fishy. And this broth isn’t the same without it. This is one of those recipes for which procuring all the ingredients is essential. For extra sustenance, I add rice noodles and chicken. The garnishes are also important, so don’t skimp. I add a healthy drizzle of chile oil for some sinus-clearing power, but you can also use sriracha or any other hot sauce. My son loves this “coconut soup” so I tend to let everyone add their own spice, but to make this Thai-hot, add some thai bird chiles to the broth while simmering. Delicious.

Tom Ka Gai
3 from 6 votes

Thai Coconut Chicken Soup

A rich, slightly spicy Thai coconut chicken soup.

Course Soup
Cuisine Thai
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 8 people



  • 1 pound chicken breasts sliced into strips
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 stalk lemongrass crushed
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1 can of coconut milk full fat or light
  • 4 - inch piece of ginger root
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 package rice noodles also called pad thai noodles or rice sticks
  • 1 red bell pepper sliced
  • 1 package mushrooms I like to use mixed wild mushrooms but you can use any kind
  • cilantro lime, and chile oil for garnish


  1. Combine chicken broth, water, lemongrass, lime juice, ginger root, fish sauce, and brown sugar in a large pot and bring to simmer for 20 minutes to an hour. Add bell pepper and mushrooms halfway through. Remove lemongrass and ginger root. Add coconut milk and stir--keep at low simmer.

  2. Slice chicken thinly. Add chicken slices to pot and stir until full cooked, making sure they don't stick together. 

  3. Soften noodles according to package and add to soup--or add noodles to individual bowls and add broth on top.

  4. Ladle into bowls and garnish with cilantro, lime, and chile oil.

While I hope you don’t fall ill this holiday season, know you’re now armed with the sinus-clearing, age-old remedy of chicken soup, this time with a kick. Know a friend who has succumbed? Bring them a thermos of this. You’ll be on the nice list, I promise.