Oh, I’ve been wanting to make this soup for such a long long time! There are few things that I like more than coconut milk so I just knew this was going to be good. …and there was no “lite” in my coconut milk this time, folks. It was full fat, creamy coconut goodness!
I was really pleased with how simple this soup was to prepare. You pretty much just throw everything in a pot and heat it up. How “soup”er easy!
This recipe is basically an Americanized version of Tom Kha Gai. Tom Kha Gai doesn’t require many ingredients but there are some that can be hard to find if you don’t have an Asian market near by. So, here are the ingredient substitutions that I made:
- ginger in place of galangal
- lime peel in place of keffir (lime) leaves
- red pepper flakes in place of red bird’s eye chilis
I know the soup is probably 100 times better with the original ingredients but it still tasted fantastic with the substitutions and I know these ingredients are more realistic for most of you. If you have a chance to get the good stuff, by all means do! I did not make a substitution for the lemongrass because it is a major player in the flavor and there really is nothing like it. Check the produce section of your grocery store near the fresh herbs. Sometimes you can get it minced up in a tube, which will also work.
A word of warning about the fish sauce… if you’re not familiar or acclimated to it, go easy or don’t use it at all. And by all means, DO NOT SNIFF THE BOTTLE or else that’s all you’ll be able to taste in the final soup and you won’t be happy. Just speaking from experience. The fish sauce gives the soup a deep, savory, salty, umami flavor. Prior to adding the fish sauce, the broth tasted really light and fresh – more like coconut milk. Honestly, I liked the broth both before and after the fish sauce. Two totally different beasts but both good.
Because I live in the south and we put rice in anything remotely liquidy, I also cooked up a batch of jasmine rice and served the soup over it. The soup was good by itself but once I added the fragrant jasmine rice, it went from good to HEAVENLY. So, give that a thought.
Coconut Chicken Soup
- 1 stalk lemongrass $2.49
- 4 inches fresh ginger $1.14
- 1 med lime $0.50
- ¼ tsp crushed red pepper $0.03
- 2 (13.5 oz) cans coconut milk $3.38
- 1 Tbsp chicken bouillon $0.36
- 3 cups water $0.00
- 2 lg. chicken breasts $2.48
- 1 Tbsp fish sauce $0.07
- 1 bunch cilantro $0.69
- Peel the ginger and slice into medallions. Remove any dry or black layers of the lemongrass and cut into 1 inch sections. Wash the lime well to remove any waxes or residues and remove the peel with a vegetable peeler. Try to get as little of the white pith as possible on the lime peel.
- Place the ginger, lemongrass, lime peel, both cans of coconut milk, chicken bouillon and water in a pot. Place over medium heat and stir to combine the ingredients and dissolve the coconut milk solids. Bring the liquid to a simmer.
- While the soup is coming up to a liquid, thinly slice the chicken. Once the broth reaches a simmer, add the chicken, allow it to come back up to a simmer and let it cook for about ten minutes or until the chicken is fully cooked.
- Once the chicken is fully cooked, turn off the burner. Add the juice from the lime and the fish sauce. Serve hot with a few sprigs of fresh cilantro. Serve over hot jasmine rice if desired.
Step By Step Photos
This is all that goes into the soup: coconut milk, crushed red pepper, fish sauce, chicken bouillon, lime, ginger, lemongrass and cilantro. Oh, and chicken which isn’t pictured.
This is the lemongrass that I used. Not the best but it is what is available in most grocery stores. You can find it in the produce section near the other packages of fresh herbs. This is basically one stalk that has been cut to fit in the box.
First I just removed the dry ends and black, dry bits from the tips.
Then I just cut it into one inch pieces. I also tried to smash it a bit under the blade of my knife to release some flavor. It smells SOOO good.
I also peeled the lime using a vegetable peeler. Try not to get very much of the white pith under the green because that will make the soup bitter.
I also peeled and sliced the ginger. Place the ginger, lime peel and lemongrass in a pot.
Add the two cans of coconut milk to the pot. See how the creamy coconut oil separates from the liquid? YUM. If you use light coconut milk, it will most likely be a homogenous mixture.
Also add your 3 cups of chicken broth (or 1 Tbsp of bouillon plus 3 cups water, in my case). Turn the heat on to medium, stir it until it’s smooth and then let it come up to a simmer.
While you’re waiting for the soup to come up to a simmer, slice the chicken. I kind of wish I would have cut slightly smaller pieces so that there would be more of them throughout the soup.
Once the soup comes up to a simmer, add the raw chicken. Let the soup come back up to a simmer and then cook for about 10 minutes or until the chicken is fully cooked. Then, turn off the burner and add the juice from the lime and the fish sauce.
Serve the soup with fresh cilantro. I also served mine with jasmine rice (not pictured) which really gave it a nice mellow, floral flavor. YUM.
I left the lemongrass and peels in and just ate around them. When I ate this soup with rice, I ate the big chunks of ginger along with it! The rice was enough to mellow out the spicy ginger.
I packed up six servings of the soup with rice and cilantro for my lunches this week. I ate one today after give it a quick hit in the microwave. It was PERFECT.