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October 25, 2011

Recipe for Thai chicken red curry coconut soup


When Ted and I go to a Thai restaurant, I'm always the one who gets the Tom Yom Koong (shrimp in a fiery hot chicken-lime broth), and he's the one who orders Tom Kha Gai (chicken coconut soup). This recipe for Thai chicken red curry coconut soup meets us in the middle, incorporating some of the heat I crave with the smooth coconut milk he loves. My herb garden produced a bumper crop of fragrant lemongrass this year; if you don't have it, zest the lime before you juice it, and add the zest to the soup.

Thai chicken red curry coconut soup

Serves 6.


2 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
1 15-oz can coconut milk
1/4 cup Thai red curry paste
2 cups chicken stock
2 thin slices fresh ginger root
2 2-inch pieces of lemongrass, slightly crushed
Juice of 1/2 lime, or more to taste
2 scallions, thinly sliced on the diagonal
1/4 cup roasted unsalted peanuts
1/4 cup cilantro leaves, or to taste


Place the chicken breasts in a small saucepan with water to cover. Bring to the boil, then reduce heat to low and cook for 15 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through. Set aside to cool completely, then shred the chicken into bite-size lengths.

In a small stock pot or Dutch oven, combine the coconut milk, curry paste, 2 cups of chicken stock (you can use the poaching liquid from the chicken breasts), ginger and lemongrass. Set heat to low, and simmer the soup base for 15 minutes, to allow the flavors to marry. At that point you can remove the ginger and lemongrass, but I like to leave them in to intensify the flavor.

Add the shredded chicken, lime juice and scallions, and cook on low for 5 minutes.

Ladle the soup into individual serving bowls, and top with peanuts and cilantro leaves.

Print recipe only.


Posted by: pam | October 25, 2011 at 12:16 PM

My most favorite soup!

Posted by: Kalyn | October 25, 2011 at 01:34 PM

Wish you lived in Salt Lake so I could come over when you're making things like this!

Posted by: Lydia | October 25, 2011 at 08:46 PM

Pam, this could become my new favorite, too. It's nice and spicy!

Kalyn, wouldn't that be a blast?

Posted by: chris | October 26, 2011 at 09:20 PM

this soup was WONDERFUL! i substituted lite coconut milk, used about two cups of shredded chicken meat from a store bought rotisserie chicken, no ginger or lemongrass, instead used zest of a the juice of a whole scallions or peanuts..but, instead, one cup or more of chopped pressed fresh garlic..and lots of it! yum!!!! it was so easy and quick..and very satisfying...true comfort food! thanks for the recipe..chris

Posted by: Lydia | October 26, 2011 at 09:24 PM

Chris, your version sounds delicious -- great way to use what you have, and what you like, to make a recipe your own. I love it!

Posted by: Ellle Katzenburg | November 4, 2011 at 05:20 PM

Which red curry paste would you recomend? I've been using Mai Ploy because it's actually from Thailand, and I purchase it in a Thai supermarket in ThaiTown here in Los Angeles, but it's too salty for my taste. I want creamy heat, not salt! (ooh, did that sound dirty?) :)

Posted by: Lydia | November 4, 2011 at 05:25 PM

Ellie, the brand I'm using currently is Maesri, which comes in good-sized tubs like the Mae Ploy.

Posted by: Monique | October 25, 2012 at 09:19 AM

This is my go to when i order Thai. That, or Pad Se Ew. I have been wanting to replicate this at home and I am so happy to have stumbled upon this. I made my first coconut curry stew 2 weeks ago because my boyf is anti-soup (he's crazy). But I beleive that he likes coconut curry so much that he wont care its soup and just lap up the amazing broth.
Thank you!

Posted by: Susie | October 30, 2012 at 08:28 PM

Wow, this soup is so delicious. My husband and I honeymooned in Thailand and we love making recipes that remind us of our favorite Thai dishes from the trip. We decided to add some extra texture to the recipe with oyster mushrooms and bok choy as well as a dash of fish sauce.

This is definitely a recipe I plan on repeating!

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  • I'm Lydia Walshin, a longtime food writer who lives and cooks in a real log house. If I could, I'd eat Chinese noodles, grapes, ice cream and soup every day.
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