Tom ka gai

Tom ka gai is a popular soup and can be found in every Thai restaurant, but the quality and tastiness both differ widely and are completely subjective with some places being much better than others. This is my attempt. I also add tomatoes—a touch I learned from the Thai Village restaurant in American Fork.

Some restaurants make a very rich soup by reducing the amount of chicken stock and increasing the amount of coconut milk. Yummy.


  1 tbsp oil
  1 quart chicken stock
  1 stalk lemongrass, white part, crushed slightly
(or 1 tsp bottled sliced lemongrass)
  3 kaffir lime leaves (not often used, but can be kept in the freezer)
  several slices ginger root
  2 small fresh Thai chiles, halved lengthwise
  2 large garlic cloves, smashed
  1 can coconut milk (14.5 oz.)
  1 tbsp Thai fish sauce (nam pla in Thai)
  1½ tsp sugar
  1 can mushrooms (straw mushrooms if on hand)
  4 chicken breasts, very thinly sliced or shredded and precooked
  juice of 4 limes
  fresh ground black pepper to taste
  ¼ cup fresh cilantro to garnish (optional)


1. In large soup pot, bring chicken stock to a simmer over medium heat. Add lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, ginger slices, Thai chiles and smashed garlic cloves. Simmer, covered, for 10-15 minutes, then strain stock to remove these inedible flavorings.

This can be set aside or refrigerated for several hours ready for the next step to take place just before serving.

2. 15 minutes prior to serving, bring up to simmer and turn heat down to lowest setting. Stir in very thinly sliced chicken. Let steep 3 minutes.

3. Stir in coconut milk, fish sauce, sugar, mushrooms, lime juice and cracked pepper. Steep for 2 more minutes to blend flavors and ensure chicken is cooked. Sprinkle with cilantro if desired.