The Thai Tom Kah soup is one of the most popular Thai dishes. This delicious soup combines spicy flavours with sweet, salty and sour ones and sends your mind on a journey to the Far East. Galangal, ginger, lemon grass, lime leaves and fresh cilantro give it its typical spicy taste. The combination of spicy chili and sour lime juice makes the taste unique. Coconut milk gives this soup a pleasant creaminess and soothes the spiciness somewhat.
The spicy-savory soup with its slightly sour note is offered all over Thailand. The original recipe unfortunately contains shrimps and fish sauce. But in the numerous vegan and vegetarian restaurants of Thailand we could also enjoy the vegan version of this soup. We then learned how to prepare the Thai Tom Kah soup in the vegan cooking school of Mai Kaidee in Chiang Mai.
This Thai soup is super healthy.
Tom Kah soup is low in calories and its spiciness stimulates digestion. It also contains lots of fresh vegetables. It is therefore perfect for a healthy, low-calorie diet. The vegetables can also be varied depending on what you have in the house. Whether you use mushrooms, mini corncobs, broccoli, Chinese cabbage, white cabbage, cauliflower, peppers, mangetout, green beans – just take your favorite vegetables.
The list of ingredients for Tom Kah soup appears long at first glance. But the soup is easy to cook and it really only takes a few minutes to prepare. Our seasoning chili paste can be prepared in a blender in no time at all.
Secret of Tom Kah soup
The secret of the original Thai Tom Kah soup lies in the freshly made chili paste. This consists of chilies, carrots, garlic and onions, which are fried and chopped. In Thailand a mortar made of stone is used to prepare the paste. I just use a strong mixer at home. It’s really quick and easy. But if you are really short on time you can use store-bought chili paste that you can get in any Asian market or online*. But selfmade chili paste tastes 100 times better, I promise! The chili paste is the same as for the Tom Yam soup. The only difference is that the Tom Kah soup contains more coconut milk and is creamier than the Tom Yam soup.
The only challenge lies in sourcing the exotic ingredients, but there are also simple solutions. You can find all the ingredients in an Asian market, either fresh, dried or frozen. If you don’t have an Asian market nearby, you can also find the ingredients in some well-stocked supermarkets. As a last resort you can also order the ingredients online.
Lemon grass, galangal and lime leaves are seasoning ingredients and they are not eaten. In Thailand they stay in the soup and are pulled out and set aside during the meal.
If you like this recipe, you’ll also like the other recipes we brought back from Thailand, such as the spicy papaya salad, the red Thai curry, the fresh spring rolls with peanut sauce or the mildly spicy Massaman curry. When you’ve tried one of our recipes, leave us a comment and tell us how you liked it.
Thai Tom Kah Soup
- 2 cups water approx. 700ml
- 4 slices galangal alternatively ginger
- 1 piece lemongrass
- 4 kaffir lime leaves
- 1 carrot
- 1 large tomato
- 1 onion
- ½ block tofu* approx. 200g per block
- 2 handful mixed vegetables e.g. mushrooms, white cabbage, bell pepper, broccoli…
- 4 tbsp soy sauce*
- 2 tsp cane sugar
- 4 tsp Tom Yam Chili Paste see recipe below or store-brought
- 2 teaspoons lime juice
- 8 tbsp coconut milk
- 2 spring onions
- 1 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
- Cut the galangal, carrot and spring onion into thin slices. Cut lemongrass into 3 cm pieces. Dice tomatoes, tofu and onions. Cut the vegetables into bite-sized pieces. Chop the cilantro.
- Bring the water to a boil in a wok. Add the galangal, kaffir lime leaves, lemon grass, vegetables and tofu.
- While everything is boiling, add the soy sauce and the sugar. When the vegetables are soft, lower the heat. The water should not be completely evaporated.
- Add Tom Yam chili paste, lime juice and coconut milk. Bring to a boil briefly and season to taste. Depending on your taste, add more water or coconut milk for the right consistency.
- Fill into soup bowls. Top with spring onions and cilantro and serve.
Tom Yam Chili Paste
- ½ cup rapeseed oil or sunflower oil
- ½ cup grated carrot
- ½ cup chopped onion
- ½ cup chopped garlic
- ½ cup dried chillies
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 tbsp lime juice
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce*
- Put the oil in a wok or pan and fry the carrot, onion and garlic until the carrot is soft and the garlic is brown. Then add the dried chillies and roast again for about 3 minutes.
- Add sugar, lime juice and soy sauce and stir well. Fry for 2 more minutes together.
- Place the contents of the wok in a blender and mix until the consistency of a solid paste is reached.
- Fry the paste again for 2 minutes over medium heat in the wok. The paste should now have a dark red, almost black color.
If you liked this recipe for Thai Tom Kah Soup you may also like one of these other Thai recipes:
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