Paleo Tom Kha Gai – Thai Coconut Chicken Soup
When I get sick, all I want is soup. Usually I have plenty of stock and/or frozen soup on hand but sometimes I send Mike out to fetch me some Tom Kha Gai from our favorite Thai place. (Note: I am the worst sick person ever and I feel like he deserves a medal each time because I would just punch me in the face.) This creamy, sweet, spicy chicken soup always makes me feel better – the spice loosens my stuffed nose and the warm, rich coconut milk warms me up.
Today I am not sick, but as I go through this 21-day sugar detox, I am in the WOE IS ME stage where everything looks like a piece of chocolate and WHAT IS THAT IN YOUR PANTS? ARE YOU HIDING GHIRARDELLI?!?! So I picked up the ingredients to make this – some of which most “Paleo” households will have on hand. I admit, I had no idea where to start really because every recipe is different. Some call for lime juice, others do not. Some use the entire lemongrass stalk and steep it in the soup for a long time, which I’m sure is the most accurate traditional way to make it. I don’t claim to have any vast Thai ethnic cooking knowledge and to be honest, I went the easy quick route with most of the ingredients. Mike was working late, the kids were feral, and I was HONGRAY. If you’re interested in learning the traditional way to cook it, this is an amazing tutorial post.
I bought this fresh lemongrass paste as well as fresh organic ginger puree, as you can see in the picture below. I am lucky that my local store carries a wide variety of ingredients like this, most organic and all the same as fresh. I have an entire shelf of my fridge for these – along with many freeze-dried herbs. They make having ingredients on hand for almost any recipe easy and they last a long time, rather than the 1/2 package of fresh herbs that go bad and I find them in the back of the fridge in a pile of slimy goo. They’re definitely worth the money in my opinion. The other ingredients were readily available in the Asian section of a regular supermarket, nothing fancy needed here.
The soup came together fast (but there is some decent simmer time) and I tasted and added this and that until the taste was perfect. I like a little spice but not too much so you can adjust the amount of red chili paste that you use based on your preference. I used around 4-5 cups of sliced chicken which was four-five small (the free-range chickens are smaller) breasts or 2-3 large ones. You can’t really mess up the amount of meat. Traditionally, this also will have mushrooms in it but I am not a fan of things that taste like worms, so I skipped on those. Feel free to add them in.
Recipe: Paleo Tom Kha Gai – Thai Coconut Chicken Soup
- 1 med-lg onion, sliced
- 1 tbsp coconut oil
- 2 tbsp fresh lemongrass paste (or minced fresh lemongrass – here’s how to cook it)
- 2 tbsp fresh ginger paste (or minced ginger)
- 2 tbsp Thai red chili past (adjust to spice preference)
- 2 1/2 tbsp fish sauce
- 2 cans full-fat coconut milk, stirred
- 4-5 c. diced/sliced chicken breast
- 4 c. chicken stock
- In a soup pot, melt the coconut oil on low and add in the onion. Cook on low for 15 minutes or so or until the onion is translucent.
- Add in the lemon grass, ginger, chili paste and fish sauce and stir well. Keep heat low.
- Add in the chicken stock and diced chicken breast and turn heat up to medium. Simmer for 15-20 minutes until the chicken is cooked.
- Turn off hear and add in the coconut milk and mix well. Do not bring back to a boil as the coconut milk can curdle (note: if you do this, no worries, it will still taste the same and is not bad for you; it just doesn’t look pretty!).
- Alternatively, just throw everything in the crockpot, though I really like when the flavors are brought out by the simmering in coconut oil!