Tom Kha Soup
Tom Kha soup is a spicy and pungent dish
from Thailand. It might possibly be my
most favorite savory dish ever. We eat this
repeatedly during the winter months.
The richness of the coconut milk mingles with the
tartness of the lemongrass and the spiciness of the
green curry and ginger. All of this blends into a base
of savory bone broth soup. It just tastes so darn good!
We make a big batch of this soup once a week and
eat it numerous times throughout the week. When
we have dinner guests or bring food to folks (because
of injury or recent birth) we generally serve this soup.
It’s always a big hit!
We love to eat this soup as part of our medicine cabinet to keep our immune systems strong
throughout the winter and to avoid getting upper respiratory infections like colds and the flu.
It is packed full of powerful immune and spicy warming herbs that are perfect for the cold winter
There are lots of Tom Kha recipes out there, I hope you enjoy this version, which has a few more
local veggies than what you’d typically see in these recipes. Soups beg to be altered so experiment
Before we get to the recipe here’s a bit more information about the health benefits of the yummy
herbs in this soup.
Lemongrass is a prominent spice in Thai cooking. It has an aromatic, lemony scent and taste, but
also has something so much more. I find it hard to describe myself but I recently heard someone
describe it as a lemony pepper taste with a hint of rose.
Besides its seductive taste, lemongrass is a powerful medicinal herb. It is used for fevers, for digestive
complaints and for headaches.
It makes a delicious tea. I often add small amounts to other tea blends simply because I love the
taste of it so much.
This recipe calls for fresh lemongrass. If you can’t find it fresh, you can also make a strong tea out of
dried lemongrass for a similar taste. I would try two heaping tablespoons of lemongrass in 8 ounces
of just-boiled water. Let sit for 10 minutes, then strain and add the tea to the soup.
Written by Rosalee de la Forêt. Taste of Herbs © LearningHerbs.com, LLC 13
Cilantro is often thought of as simply garnish for guacamole, but this is yet another unassuming
plant that is disguised as potent medicine.
Before I go on I know someone out there is thinking, “yuck! I hate cilantro.” It’s true people seem
to either adore cilantro or detest it. If you think cilantro tastes like soap, then it’s probably not your
fault! Some people genetically lack the ability to taste the flavor that most people love in cilantro.
Concurrently, they also have a stronger reaction to another flavor within cilantro. If you don’t like
cilantro, feel free to omit it from the soup.
Cilantro is loaded with antioxidants and is an aromatic carminative herb that is great for promoting
digestion. My teacher Michael Tierra recommends strong cilantro tea or cilantro pesto for stubborn
urinary tract infections.
Garlic is a strong antimicrobial herb that stimulates circulation and boosts the immune system. It’s
the perfect example of a pungent herb! Just eating one fresh clove a day (not bulb, clove) can deliver
powerful health benefits, such as supporting good cholesterol ratios and promoting digestion.
Ginger is a spicy and pungent herb that can promote digestion, quell nausea, lessen headaches,
reduce pain, fight intestinal infections, and shorten the duration of a cold or flu. Ginger is one of
my most reached-for herbs simply because it does so much and it does it so well!
I adore shitake mushrooms, so I love piling them in the soup until it looks like I am eating shitake
mushroom soup! Shitakes are a wonderful food for the immune system. They have been studied
extensively for preventing and treating cancer.
Written by Rosalee de la Forêt. Taste of Herbs © LearningHerbs.com, LLC 14
Here’s the recipe!
• 32 fluid oz bone broth soup (or substitute any meat or veggie broth)
• 3 cans regular coconut milk (look for BPA free coconut milk)
• 2 big stalks lemongrass, sliced in large pieces
• 4 tablespoons fish sauce
• 2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
• 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
• 4 tablespoons lime juice
• 4 tablespoons minced ginger
• 8 cloves minced garlic
• 1-2 lbs skinless chicken thighs, cubed in very small pieces (sometimes we use salmon instead)
• 8 ounces shitake mushrooms, sliced
• 1 bunch bok choy, chopped
• 1 bunch of kale, chopped
• 1 bunch green onions
• 2 carrots, chopped
• 1 tablespoon green thai curry paste
• 1 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped (leave the stems in!)
Heat the bone broth and coconut milk in a large, heavy bottomed pan.
Once the liquids are heated you can add the fish sauce, tamari, apple cider vinegar, lime juice, ginger
Bring the broth to a slow simmer, make sure it
doesn’t boil, and do not cover it during cooking.
When the broth is simmering, add the chicken,
mushrooms, bok choy, kale, green onions, carrots
and green curry paste.
When the chicken is fully cooked and the carrots
are tender, add the cilantro. After a minute, taste the
soup and add some lime juice if desired.
It’s ready to serve! A cilantro and red pepper garnish
is a nice touch.
This recipe makes a lot of soup. Perhaps 8 – 12
servings. It makes great left overs!