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Vegan Tom Kha Gai – Thai Coconut Soup

DinnerSoupsAsianCoconut MilkVegan

Presenting one more delicious and flavourful Winter special soup recipe – Vegan Tom Kha Gai Soup. It is light, spicy, flavorful, aromatic, and healthy too. It is made with homemade red Thai curry paste because it is quite difficult to find a vegetarian or vegan one at the stores here in Munich.

If you enjoy this, then you must try our soup recipes too. There is some magic in Asian Recipes I guess. They all taste extremely delicious – light, full of flavors and the aroma is to die for.

Story Time

We had this Vegan Tom Kha Gai soup in an Asian restaurant soup in Prague. It was love at first bite. I generally don’t order soups when we go out but I am happy that I did on that day. We literally finished the entire soup in 5 minutes. It was that tasty. But we were craving for more. As soon as we were back home, I tried this recipe. Ahhh…it wasn’t the same. It took me a couple of attempts to crack the code of that soup recipe. Now, we can have it anytime we want.

Jatin even eats this soup as a meal – lunch or dinner. He loves it a lot. It has the right balance of sweet and spicy. It is tangy and extremely flavourful. There was a time when we didn’t like Asian recipes, especially Red Thai Curry & Green Thai Curry. We had some problems with the coconut milk recipes. But now after making them at home, we started loving them a lot. We make it at least once every week. Our favorite is vegetarian or vegan Khow Suey.

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What is Tom Kha Gai?

Tom Kha Gai is a sweet and sour coconut soup in Thai cuisines. It has a strong galangal and coconut flavor and is made with chicken. Its literal meaning is Tom – Soup or boiled/cooked, Kha – Galangal, Gai – Chicken.

The main ingredients of this soup are – lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, galangal, coconut milk, chicken, and mushroom.

But if you are a vegetarian or vegan, you can skip adding chicken or any other non-vegetarian ingredient. You can add tofu and other vegetables to the soup and make it filling, nourishing, and delicious.

Preparations for Tom Kha Gai Soup

1 – Red Thai Curry Paste

You can easily use store-bought Thai red curry paste but the aroma & the flavor that freshly made paste gives are unmatched. I tried both and telling you from my experience. And don’t worry. Making the paste at home is quite easy. Just dump all the ingredients in a mixer-grinder, grind and it’s done. I prefer to make it in a mortar pestle and I have a small one. It is time-consuming and you will need a lot of elbow grease too. But the aroma that you get after adding each ingredient is an experience. Now I am planning to buy a large mortar pestle because that will make my work much easier.

Check out the recipe for Red Thai Curry Paste. Also, check out the homemade green Thai curry paste too.

3 – Coconut Milk

This is one of the most important ingredients of this recipe. You can either make the coconut milk at home or use the store-bought one. I prefer to buy from the stores because that is just easy 🙂 If you are unsure about the flavor of coconut milk in curries, you can make it with the more diluted coconut milk. I made this recipe using coconut milk with around 76% coconut extract. It was quite thick and had a mild coconut flavor.

You can also reduce the amount of coconut milk and increase the amount of water in the soup. So, there is no rule. Modify according to your taste. But let me share that this curry has so many different herbs and spices that the flavor of coconut milk doesn’t dominate at all.

Other coconut milk recipes – Indian Vegan Rice Kheer, Vegan Dal Makhani, Vegan Mango Cheesecake.

4 – Vegetables

What I love about this recipe is that you can add any veggie of your choice. Since I am a veggie-lover, I add all kinds of veggies to it – mushrooms, carrots, zucchini, pink radish, spring onions. Also, tofu. That is my favorite. So, just make it as colorful as you like.

How to make Red Thai Curry Paste?

Making Red Thai Curry Paste at home is always a good idea. It makes the curry even more flavourful and aromatic. And you can even store the extra curry paste in the freezer and use it for as long as you want. Also, if you are a vegetarian or vegan, make sure to check the ingredients of store-bought Red Thai Curry Paste because it contains shrimp paste and fish oil.

There are two ways to make Red Thai Curry Paste at home:

  1. Using a blender – Dump each ingredient in the blender and blend into a coarse of fine paste. Do not add any water because it dilutes the flavour or add just a little if it is difficult to blend well. Of course it is easy and will make a tasty curry.
  2. Using a mortar-pestle – Crushing each ingredient using a traditional method is time-consuming (especially if you have a small mortar pestle) but the aroma and the flavour are unmatched. You can feel the change in aroma after adding and crushing each ingredient. It is an experience. But if you want to try this, make sure you have a large size of mortar-pestle. & be prepared for a good arm workout.

Ingredients of Red Thai Curry Paste

The authentic red Thai curry paste (vegan/vegetarian) requires some special ingredients like lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, galangal, shallots (small red onion), and Thai chili. Some of these ingredients can be replaced with what you can easily find in the markets. For example, galangal can be replaced with ginger or Thai Chilli can be replaced with dry red chili. The taste will differ slightly but you can still make it absolutely tasty.

I even add tomato paste in the red Thai curry paste because I feel that in the authentic one shrimp paste is added which adds its own unique flavor and that umami to the paste. But since we are making the vegan or vegetarian paste, we can add that umami effect in the paste using some tomato paste. It not just adds a unique burst of flavor but also adds a nice color to the paste.

A detailed list of the ingredients is here.

How to store Red Thai Curry Paste?

You can put it in an air-tight container and store it in the refrigerator for around a week. But if you want to have a longer shelf life, store it in the freezer. It stays good for months. When you want to cook something using the curry paste, just take it out and keep it on the kitchen counter so that it is not hard while using.

tom kha

Easy Swaps

  1. Galangal: You can use ginger instead but see if you can find galangal because the aroma and the flavor of both are different.
  2. Kaffir Lime Leaves: If you can’t find kaffir lime leaves, use the lemon zest. It has almost similar aorma and flavor to that of the kaffir lime leaves.
  3. Coconut Oil: Use any cooking oil that you have at home but make sure it doesn’t have a strong taste.
  4. Vegetables: You can add any vegetable of your choice like tomato, cherry tomatoes, french green beans, egg plant, bell peppers, zucchini, etc.
  5. Dry Red Chilli: If you can find thai red chilli, use 7 to 10 in the red thai curry paste.
  6. Green Chilli: I couldn’t find Red Thai Chilli but if you have it, use 2 of that instead of green chillies in the soup.
  7. Tomato Paste: Instead of tomato paste, you can use sun-dried tomatoes in the red thai curry paste. Although, it is an optional ingredient but tomato paste adds a nice umami flavor in it.

Is this recipe Vegan?

Yes. All the ingredients used in this recipe are plant-based and vegan. Even the homemade red Thai curry paste that we made is vegan. There is no shrimp paste or fish oil added to it.

You can try this recipe if you are a vegan or vegetarian.

If you want more vegan recipe suggestions, try our vegan Mexican Burrito, Bajra Khichri with Kachumber Salad, Protein-Rich, and low carb Stuffed spinach cheela. You can check all of the vegan recipes here.

More Recipes to try

  1. Mexican Burrito (Vegan)
  2. Mexican Burger (Vegan)
  3. Italian Minestrone Soup

That’s it, my dear friend. You are all ready to make veg or vegan Tom Kha Gai Soup. So, grab all the ingredients because you are ready to make a happy meal for yourself.

If you like the recipe, please share the photo on Instagram and tag us too @marriedfriends. We love to see your recreation of our recipes.

Happy Cooking.

Love from us

Richa & Jatin

Recipe

Vegan Tom Kha Gai – Thai Coconut Soup

Aromatic. Flavourful. Vegan.

Servings

2

Prep Time

10 min

Cook Time

20 min

Rest Time

0 min

Ingredients

Tom Kha Soup

  • 1 tbsp Coconut Oil
  • 2 tbsp Red Thai Curry Paste
  • 1 tbsp Tomato Paste
  • 400 ml Coconut Milk
  • 4 cup Water
  • 1 cup Mushrooms cut
  • 1/4 cup Pink Radish cut
  • 1/2 cup Zucchini cut into half moons
  • 1/2 cup Carrot cut into thin circles
  • 100-150 g Tofu cut into cubes
  • 2-3 tbsp Coriander Leaves chopped
  • 2-3 tbsp Spring Onion Greens chopped
  • 2 tsp Soy Sauce
  • 1 tbsp Lemon Juice
  • 4 tsp Sugar
  • Salt to taste
  • Cooking Oil to brush the pan
  • 2 tbsp Lemongrass chopped
  • 4-6 Kaffir Lime Leaves
  • 2-Inch Piece Galangal
  • 1 tsp Tamarind Paste
  • 2 Green Chilli slit

Steps

Tom Kha Soup

  1. In a deep pan, add some coconut oil and heat.
  2. To the pan, add the prepared red Thai curry paste and saute for 3 to 5 minutes on low flame.
  3. Add tomato paste and around 100 ml of coconut milk. Mix and let it cook till it releases the oil. It takes around 7 to 10 minutes on medium-low flame.
  4. Meanwhile, let's roast tofu pieces. Brush some oil on a pan and sprinkle some salt. Place tofu pieces and brush oil over them. 
  5. Let them lightly roast from one side. Then flip and roast from the other side too. Keep them aside. 
  6. Coming back to the soup, once the coconut milk starts to release the oil, add the remaining coconut milk and water. Also add galangal, lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, and green chili. Mix, boil, cover, and cook on low flame for 10 minutes.
    Tear the kaffir lime leaves while adding. It releases more flavor.
  7. After 10 minutes, you may remove galangal, kaffir lime leaves, green chili, and lemongrass from the soup. They come in between while you enjoy the soup.
  8. Add your cut veggies - mushrooms, pink radish, zucchini, and carrots. Also add tamarind paste, sugar, salt to taste, and soy sauce. Mix, cover, and cook for another 5 to 7 minutes.
  9. Switch off the flame and add chopped spring onions, coriander leaves, and lemon juice. Mix and serve hot. Your happy meal is ready :)

Serving Suggestion

  1. Serve it with some rice or noodles. 
  2. While serving, garnish with some chopped spring onion greens and a little bit of homemade chili oil. Your happy meal is ready :)
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