My Recipes I Thai Coconut Soup (Tom Ka Gai)
New year, new soup
January 7, 2021
We already miss Teeny McMunn, our advertising manager and recipe writer who happily retired at the end of 2020. Her recipes were crowd favorites, not only for the food but for the good company. We've only begun to feel the void in the many ways she filled The Times office with joy. So, while there's a hole in our hearts, I can at least offer something to fill your bowl.
New year, new you? Whether you're eating better as a New Year's resolution or just looking for a warm and filling yet light and flavorful meal, Thai coconut soup to the rescue! I had this soup at a Thai restaurant in Seattle, and it was surprisingly delightful. It was a drizzly and foggy cold day, a day perfect for warm soup. That version had these small mushrooms I had never seen before nor since, but it's my life's goal to find them to perfect this experience.
As far as textures go, I expect soup to be more wet than saucy. This soup has a light yet rich consistency made from chicken or vegetable broth and coconut milk. The lemongrass gives it a zingy brightness that joins forces with the lime to great success. It tastes fancy for how low effort it is to recreate. In my notes below, I've included a cheat method that eliminates the necessity for the more exotic ingredients. So, if this will be the only time you're ever going to use fish sauce, you can skip it entirely by using the cheat method.
2 boneless skinless chicken thighs
1 can coconut milk
1 carton chicken/veggie broth
1 sprig of lemongrass
1 tsp. Fish sauce
⅛ cup cilantro
Chili garlic sauce to taste
⅛ tsp. Ground mustard
⅛ tsp. Ground ginger
1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 Bay leaf
1 cup sliced carrots
2 tsp. Coconut oil
Melt coconut oil in a large soup pot. Add sliced onion and carrots and cook until they just begin to melt, caramelize, then add chicken broth, coconut milk, bay leaf, Worcestershire sauce, ginger, mustard, chili garlic sauce, lemongrass, and fish sauce. Bring to boil, reduce heat, add mushrooms, and simmer uncovered for 20 minutes until chicken is cooked. Remove chicken and shred before returning to the soup. Remove bay leaf and lemongrass before serving. Garnish with lime, sriracha, and cilantro.
There is a cheat method! If you want to try this soup whilst purchasing the least amount of extraneous ingredients, get a can of Amy's Thai Coconut Soup, and skip the lemongrass and fish sauce. Use Amy's soup as a base to add coconut milk, broth, and as much or as little onion, carrots, mushrooms as you want. Even the cheat method should be garnished with fresh lime and cilantro.