I’ve always loved Asian Cuisine, the basis of it being some of my favorite ingredients. Almost every dish has some combination of ginger, garlic, scallions, chiles, and coconut cream- and those alone are ingredients I try to use as often as possible. Asian food also is so healing and beneficial nutrient wise, as its usually very simple, light meals, that have a superfood packed ingredient list. This particular soup is one of my favorite things to make whenever I’m feeling a little under the weather. The combination of turmeric, garlic, ginger, cilantro, citrus, lemongrass, & chiles really help to kick whatever cold or flu you have in the butt, and it is really soothing on your sinuses & throat. Tom Kha Gai soup is a sort of hot and sour soup, that’s also sweet and incredibly creamy. This soup is great to make for big dinners as well because it’s so customizable topping wise, so you can serve everyone a big bowl of broth & noodles, while having a variety of toppings out for everyone to add themselves. This is a relatively easy recipe, so let’s just jump right into it!
So to start this soup out, you’ll need to make your soup base. This is pretty simple to do, because it’s just throwing all your ingredients in a pot & letting them do their thing. You’re going to need some unique ingredients here, which can be found at most asian markets or larger supermarkets, but I’ll give you substitutes for some of the harder to find stuff incase you really can’t find it. You’ll need- vegetable stock, lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, fresh ginger, fresh galangal, garlic cloves, Thai chiles (red or green), organic cane sugar, black pepper, pink himalayan salt, tamari, chile paste (we used sambal olec), fresh lime juice, fresh cilantro, and ground turmeric. Let’s go over a few of these ingredients & how to use them / where to find them first. Lemongrass is one of my favorite things, and I hate that I don’t use it more often in my recipes. The smell will probably be familiar to some of you, as its scent is used in a variety of common candles & fragrances, but it has really amazing healing properties & adds a really great depth of flavor. To prepare the lemongrass, smack the thicker end on your cutting board decently hard a few times to release the oils inside so it can better diffuse. Make sure to cut them in half too so they properly fit into your pot. Galangal is the next up, and I’m sure many of you have never even heard of this. It’s very similar to ginger, but is a tad more mild. Traditional Tom Kha Gai doesn’t have fresh ginger at all, it only has galangal, but I like to add both mainly because I love ginger, but it’s also a really great immune booster. It’s sold at most Asian markets, but if you cannot find this, you can easily just add more fresh ginger instead, no big deal. Same goes with Kaffir Lime Leaves. These usually are sold fresh rather than dried, and again are found at most Asian or Thai markets. If you cannot find these though, you can substitute bay leaves (2 dried, or 4 fresh). Once you’ve gathered all your ingredients, throw them in the pot & bring to a boil. Make sure to slice your galangal & ginger, smash your chiles, and squeeze your limes before adding those to the pot though. I like to also add the entire lime in there after squeezing to cook because it infuses a lot more flavor (don’t worry, everything gets strained out at the end). Once your broth is boiling, cover and reduce to a simmer and cook for about thirty to forty minutes over very low heat to really let all of the flavors infuse.
Once your broth has been simmering for about forty minutes, add in your coconut cream. You’ll want to let this simmer, covered, for another twenty minutes or so. Once it’s cooked for a bit, you can strain this mixture through a fine mesh strainer into another pot, so that all of your aromatics are removed from the soup and you’re left with a clean broth.
For the cooked vegetables in the soup, I decided to keep it very simple and just add a bunch of baby bok choy. This soup is really more about the toppings & the broth itself for me, so I like to keep it a bit simpler when adding vegetables to it. You’ll want to add the bok choy about 2 minutes before you serve it though so that they don’t totally lose their crunch and still stay a vivid green color.
I always like to add rice noodles to this because it adds a lot of substance to the soup and makes it more filling, plus who doesn’t love noodles in soup? These guys are super easy to cook up, just throw them in boiling water for like 1-2 minutes until they’re cooked through! They cook pretty quick so make sure to keep an eye on them. Drain them once they’re finished and set aside.
Let’s talk about toppings! For this you can pretty much add WHATEVER you’d like! Baby tomatoes, bean sprouts, pineapple, shiitake bacon, Thai basil, etc. We chose to do scallions, cilantro, fresh jalapeno, fresh red Thai chile, and white beech mushrooms. White beech mushrooms are great because 1. they look really beautiful on the dish, but 2. they really hold their firmness well and don’t get incredibly mushy when they touch the broth, which I prefer. Chop them up all fine (except the mushrooms), and sprinkle over top the soup once you’re done! That pretty much wraps up this soup recipe, I told you it wasn’t too complicated. This is a great soup to make in huge batches and freeze (the broth part only, not the bok choy or toppings) and then that way you can just have some on hand to reheat if you get sick & you can just throw in your fresh veggies. I really hoped you enjoy this recipe, see you next week!
- 4 cups vegetable stock
- 4 cups coconut cream
- 4 stalks lemongrass
- 6 kaffir lime leaves
- 4″ piece of ginger, sliced
- 4″ piece of galangal, sliced
- 7 garlic cloves
- juice of 3 limes
- 5 Thai chiles (red or green), smashed
- 4 tbs organic cane sugar
- 3 tbs pink himalayan salt
- 3 tbs black pepper
- 1 1/2 tbs ground turmeric
- 3-4 tbs chile paste / sambal olec
- 4 tbs tamari
- 1/2 c fresh cilantro
- rice noodles
- baby bok choy
- fresh cilantro
- fresh jalapeno
- red or green Thai chiles
- white beech mushrooms
- lime wedge
- Add everything besides the coconut cream under the soup base ingredient list to a pot and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cover for 40 minutes.
- Add your coconut cream and stir to combine. Bring back to a simmer, cover, and cook for an additional 20 minutes.
- Add your baby bok choy to the soup about two minutes before serving so they slightly cook but still have some crunch to them.
- Strain the soup through a fine mesh strainer into another pot so you’re left with a clean broth.
- Cook your rice noodles according to the package instructions and drain.
- Slice all of your toppings (besides the bok choy because that was added to the soup base) thinly, besides your mushrooms and set aside.
- Laddle some broth & bok choy into your bowl, then add your rice noodles in the center, and top with however many toppings you’d like.