Chicken and Coconut Soup with Galangal

Based on a Thai soup called Tom Kha Gai, this is a hot, spicy, sweet soup made with coconut milk.


  • 1 tblsp sunflower oil
  • 25 g root galangal (peeled and thinly sliced)
  • 2 lemongrass stalks (outer leaves removed and thinly sliced)
  • 4 fresh or frozen kaffir lime leaves
  • 1 large skinless chicken breast fillet (thinly sliced)
  • 400 g tin of coconut milk
  • 500 ml chicken stock
  • 2 tsp sweet chilli sauce
  • 2 tsp thai fish sauce (nam pla)
  • 100 g shiitake mushrooms (trimmed and thinly sliced)
  • 1 tblsp fresh lime juice
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • coriander leaves, to garnish


  1. Heat the sunflower oil in a large heavy-based saucepan over a medium heat. Add the galangal, lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves and cook for 1 minute, stirring continuously.
  2. Add the chicken strips to the saucepan with the coconut milk and stock, then stir well to combine. Bring to a simmer, then mix in the chilli sauce, Thai fish sauce and shiitake mushrooms.
  3. Bring to a gentle boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 6–8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the chicken is completely tender and cooked through and all of the flavours have combined.
  4. Season with salt and pepper to taste and stir in the lime juice. Ladle into warmed oriental-style bowls and garnish with coriander leaves.


Neven's note: Galangal is a rhizome from the same family as ginger and has a mild peppery flavour – it can be bought in root form and used in much the same way as root ginger. While travelling around Thailand, my wife Amelda and I tasted many versions of this, including one made with seafood (Tom Kha Talay), and a vegetarian option made with tofu (Tom Kha Tofu). You may need to visit an oriental supermarket for some of the ingredients but the results are well worth the effort.


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