Thom Kha Gai (Thai Chicken Soup with Coconut)

thai-soup-02We had a little cold snap, so I’m feeling that it is still acceptable to make hot soup.   (Okay, by cold snap, I mean it got down to 60.  Sorry, rest of America.)

I’ve decided on this Thai staple because there’s a palm tree outside–therefore my soup should have a tropical flair.
This classic recipe calls for the leaf of the Makrut Lime tree.  It was formerly known as Kaffir lime, but that name has since been outed as one that carries great offense in certain parts of the world.  I don’t feel like being that guy, so I’ll use the Thai name.

The a fruit is cherished, not for the inner flesh or juice, but its super-potent double-lobed, figure-8 leaf. The leaf’s intense aroma is an essential ingredient throughout Southeast Asia. You’ll find it floating in broths, soups (pho, tom kha gai), and curries and combined with other herbs and spices like garlic, galangal, and chiles. The fruit is bright green and very bumpy and is no substitute for the intense lime aroma of the leaves. Makrut lime leaves are available at Asian markets.



1 (5.6-oz.) can coconut milk
4 cups chicken stock
1/4 cup fresh galangal, grated
2 stalks lemongrass, cut into 2-inch pieces
4 TB. fish sauce (nam pla)
6 makrut lime leaves, crushed
2 Thai chiles, minced
3 cups cooked chicken, shredded
2 limes, cut into wedges
1/] cup fresh cilantro, chopped


  1. In a large soup pot combine coconut milk, chicken broth, galangal, and lemongrass. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer 30 minutes. Strain and return liquid to the pot.
  2. Add fish sauce, lime leaves, Thai chiles, and chicken. Simmer 30 minutes more. Serve hot with lime wedges and chopped cilantro.
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