Warm, rich, savory coconut creamy broth, swirls of chili oil floating on top, beautiful veg and cubes of flavor-soaked tofu, and a pile of steamy rice at your service. This soup is a cool night, sweatshirt sleeves over your palms, curl up and into a warm bowl kinda meal.
Oh, we love so many things about this one. It is super fast and so very customizable because you can play around with your protein and veg. We found it to be great for the whole fam, too. Like for example, if your kiddos find soup-eating to be the literal hardest thing in the world? Cool, cool, no prob – you can pull out the tofu and veg and just serve it on rice for them without the broth (more for you).
It’s super cozy with warm, punchy, fresh, sweet-spicy flavors, and we are so ready to curl up with big trough-y bowls of this all season long.
Prefer To Watch Instead Of Read?
How To Make Thai Coconut Soup
This beauty is inspired by an absolute favorite Thai soup called Tom Kha. Traditional Tom Kha has galangal in it (the “Kha” part, the “Tom” means “soup”), which is a fragrant root vegetable that is like, ginger-adjacent, as well as makrut lime leaves, lemongrass and Thai chiles. Though these ingredients are extremely delicious, we found them a bit harder to find in our regular grocery stores. So we substituted some things like ginger, lime juice, and chili paste, while still keeping the fresh lemongrass (which is becoming increasingly more common to find, yay!), earthy mushroom and sweet red pepper, and creamy coconut milk for a definitely inspired-by-but-not-totally-authentic nod to the soup we love.
For a look at a more traditional soup, blogger and YouTuber Seonkyoung Longest has a really beautiful video and recipe post for Tom Kha Gai (made with chicken or “Gai”) that’s worth a watch. She explains a bit more about the difference between galangal and ginger as well as the other ingredients that you would traditionally see in a Tom Kha recipe.
Bringing this soup-nod together is actually pretty darn easy. You’ll get the aromatics going first, and then it’s kind of just a stack and simmer sort of deal.
Sauté garlic, ginger and lemongrass until super fragrant and yummy.
Add chili paste and any veg you like (we did mushrooms + red pepp).
Then add your tofu (or other protein of choice, chicken is also great) and broth and let it simmer for a bit.
Coconut milk goes in and deepen the flavors with some brown sugar, lemon zest, fish sauce, and fresh cilantro. Yum, yum, yum!
Scoop over some steamy rice, top with chili oil, more fresh cilantro…whooboy, we’re getting hungry.
So many beautiful fresh ingredients and flavors that only get better the longer they sit together (hello yes, leftovers dream!). The tofu holds its shape and texture beautifully, however, you could omit it if you like. But oh my, it is nice how that amazing broth just sneaks up into those delicious little cubes.
What To Serve With This Soup
Our favorite way to serve this champ is just ladled right over the top or alongside some fresh steamy rice. The soup is so good to scoop and slurp on its own, but we loved the extra little texture chomps that the rice provided.
Is there a limit to how much fresh cilantro you can slap onto something? Hahahaha no, just pile it on there. Shower with a fresh lime squeeze, dribble some chili oil on top, and then dribble some more because it is so spectacular.
This keeps really well for leftovers, but we would store the rice and soup separately for optimal texture success. If your soup separates a little, that’s totally okay! Just give her a good shake and she’s good to go.
Make It Your Own
We also love a good go-with-the-flow meal and this soup IS that. It is super versatile, so you can customize it to whatever you fancy. Not a tofu fan? No prob – chicken or shrimp would be outstanding. Want a bunch of other vegetables in there because, oh no, you got overzealous in the produce aisle this week? Great, toss them in!
Don’t like cilantro? How dare you, please leave. KIDDING. Other fresh herbs, like basil, would be so, so good.
However you put your signature on it, get ready to have yourself warmed from the inside out. Slurp after smile after slurp after smile, this little cozy, fragrant, rich, creamy little wonder has got your number.
Thai Coconut Soup: FAQs
Can I use a different protein?
Absolutely! Chicken or shrimp in this soup would be really good.
How can I make this vegan?
Fish sauce and chili paste are the only non-vegan ingredients in this soup. You could either purchase a vegan fish sauce (typically found at health-food stores) or use soy sauce (to taste) in place of the fish sauce. You could omit the chili paste or use a fresh Thai chili instead.
Any subs for lemongrass?
If lemongrass is a hard-to-find ingredient for you, a bit of lemon zest can work in a pinch.
How can I made this in the Instant Pot?
We’ve got what you need right in the notes section of the recipe card for full Instant Pot instructions!
It’s Thai Coconut Soup with Tofu and Rice! A savory coconut creamy broth, swirls of chili oil floating on top, beautiful veg and cubes of flavor-soaked tofu, and a pile of steamy rice at your service.
5 cloves garlic, minced
one 3-inch piece of ginger, peeled and cut into thin slices
3 stalks lemongrass, ends trimmed, outer layer peeled, and cut into bigger chunks
1–2 tablespoons roasted red chili paste
8ounces fresh mushrooms, sliced
1red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 block of extra firm tofu, pressed and cut into small cubes
5–6cupsvegetable or chicken broth
about 20ouncesfull fat coconut milk (I like Aroy-D brand, and I use about 1.5 cans)
3 tablespoonsfish sauce (more or less to taste)
3 tablespoonsbrown sugar
juice and zest of 1-2 limes (to taste)
salt to taste (about 1 teaspoon)
lots of cilantro
chili oil for serving
rice for serving
Heat the oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Add the garlic, ginger, and lemongrass; sauté for 3-5 minutes (but don’t let the garlic brown – if it starts browning, remove from heat / turn the heat down).
When everything is soft-ish and smells really nice, add the roasted red chili paste and sauté for 1-2 minutes. Add the mushrooms and red pepper (and any other veggies you like). Sauté for 3-5 minutes to get them sweating a bit, and then add the tofu and broth and bring to a simmer. Simmer for 10-15 minutes.
Add coconut milk, fish sauce, brown sugar, lime juice and zest, and salt. Stir in the cilantro. Taste and adjust till you get it just how you like it. Pull out the lemongrass chunks.
I like to ladle the soup over a shallow bowl filled halfway with rice – so the soup kind of goes on one side and the rice on the other, with the coconuty broth spilling over into the rice a bit. Top it off with extra cilantro and chili oil. SO, SO GOOD.
Some recipes instruct you to keep the ginger in bigger chunks so you can pull it out before serving – but personally I kind of enjoy an occasional bite of thinly-sliced broth-soaked ginger, so I just leave the ginger in!
The lemongrass stalks, especially when in bigger pieces, can be really tough, which is why I’d advise taking those out before serving. You could also use lemongrass paste for a little more convenience so you can just get the flavor without needing to pull out the stalks of lemongrass.
Instant Pot Instructions: Press the Sauté button on the Instant Pot and heat the oil. Then, sauté the garlic, ginger, and lemongrass for 2-3 minutes until soft-ish. Add the roasted red chili paste and sauté for another minute. Then, add in the tofu and 4 cups of broth. Place the lid on the pot and cook on Manual mode (high pressure) for 3 minutes. Quick release the steam using the valve. Stir in the coconut milk, fish sauce, brown sugar, lime juice and zest, and salt. Add in the mushrooms and red pepper. If you feel like it could use more liquid, you can add an additional cup of broth if needed. Press the Sauté button again to simmer the veggies for 5-6 minutes until softened. Pull out the lemongrass chunks and stir in the cilantro.