Friday, March 1, 2019

Paleo Tom Kha Gai Soup Recipe; Easy, Gluten Free, and Delicious Thai Hot and Sour Soup (Vegan Option)

One of my favorite things to do is recreate foods that I've eaten at a restaurant at home and in a way that is suitable to my diet (gluten free, egg free, etc). So far I've done it with Chinese restaurant food: pineapple chicken, corn soup, sesame chicken, moo goo gai pan, Middle Eastern: shawarma, falafel, Italian: three cheese sauce, pizza, and Thai: curried noodles with chicken, corn soup and lots more. Now I'm adding to the list of Thai restaurant foods with this addition to my repertoire of Tom Kha Gai soup. I've eaten it a few times in restaurants and it is delicious, but the last time I tried ordering it in a restaurant it contained gluten, which left me disappointed and therefore I recreated it at home stupendously, which leaves me very excited.

Tom kha gai literally means chicken galangal soup, galangal being a relative of ginger with a similar taste. Though less authentic, you can make this soup with ginger, as I did, and it'll still taste great. I actually did a few things that weren't so authentic for this recipe, using coconut aminos or gluten free soy sauce instead of fish sauce, and using lemon juice in place of lime juice, plus leaving out the kafir lime leaves.

This recipe is actually not from one specific place, but after reading so many different recipe posts, as well as what makes this different from tom yum soup (tom yum has no coconut, among others), I came up with this recipe that is pretty awesome. I don't know if it tastes exactly identical to the stuff in the restaurants, but its pretty close and, honestly, relatively easy to make. I've seen some recipes that call for the addition of Thai basil and cilantro to the recipe, but I didn't have Thai basil, and couldn't even find my dried regular basil to add to the recipe and it was amazing without it. If you have and want to add, feel free, though, as I mentioned, it isn't necessary.

The way I made this recipe is completely paleo, other than the rice noodles, which you can leave out; it is wonderful without them too. While I used the specific vegetables mentioned below, feel free to add whatever vegetables you like at the end, such as cabbage or snow peas or bok choy, or even leave them out. This recipe is versatile; play with it as you like.

You can even make this vegan if you use vegan consomme instead of the chicken broth. I'm sure it'll also work great with vegetable broth but I haven't tried that yet.

Paleo Tom Kha Gai Soup Recipe; Easy, Gluten Free, and Delicious Thai Hot and Sour Soup

1 tablespoon oil of choice
1 large onion
1-1 1/2 tablespoons fresh chopped or grated ginger or galangal
Approximately 1 tablespoon chopped inner soft lemongrass stalk or 5-6 leaves tied together
3 medium tomatoes or approximately 1 1/3 cup
7 cups chicken broth
3 tablesooons coconut aminos or gluten free soy sauce
1 box mushrooms
Hot peppers to taste, either fresh or hot pepper flakes
1 can coconut milk
3 tablespoons lemon juice or lime juice
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder or to taste
Salt to taste
Optional additions:
1/2 package noodles
1 cup packed swiss chard or spinach
1 cup packed bean sprouts
1 bell pepper chopped thinly
Deboned chicken from the broth or velveted chicken
Chopped cilantro or parsley

1. Chop your onion and saute it in oil together with your lemongrass and ginger. Since lemongrass can be hard, if you don't want to worry about fishing out hard pieces from your soup, you can tie lemongrass pieces together so you can remove them easily. If you only have dry lemongrass, don't worry, it'll be fine.

2. Chop tomatoes and mushrooms, add them and the broth to the pot and bring to a boil.

3. Once boiled, add coconut milk, lemon or lime juice, coconut aminos or soy sauce, garlic powder (if using), hot peppers to taste, and then salt to taste.

4. At this point the soup is done and you can serve it as is, if you want.

5. Alternatively, you can take a package or half a package of rice noodles and cook them in the soup (but then it'll use up most of the liquid) or you can cook it and serve it together with the soup. Adding some swiss chard, bean sprouts, or bell peppers into the soup a minute before serving will give them time to wilt a bit but still be fresh and al dente and perfect. Add chicken if you want. (Officially it needs it to be called gai, since gai means chicken. But you can make this vegan by leaving that out.) Top with chopped parsley or cilantro.


Ever have tom kha gai before? What was in it? Have you ever made it? How do you make it? Does this look like a recipe you'd try?


  1. Your adaptations for what I would order as "take-out" are amazing... For example, I have used your recipe for velvet chicken in dozens of ways. Although I do not have any specific allergies, your step-by-step recipes teach me ways to adapt the ingredients on hand to create new flavors -- while saving money! Many thanks!

  2. Loved the recipe. I like tufu so I added some. Excellent.


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