There’s nothing better than a warm bowl of soup on a cool fall day… or so they tell me! I’m a Florida girl, so I have to pretend it’s a crisp, cool night. What I don’t have to pretend about is my love for this Thai Coconut Soup recipe, which is a vegan version of Tom Kha Gai. It’s warm, comforting, and I like to make a big recipe and share it with my friends.

I’ve made this soup more times than I can count and I never get tired of it. I love it so much that I included it in my new book, Simple Green Meals. Try this soup and if you love it, then share it with your friends!

Thai coconut soup with lime and cashew for toppings

How to Make Thai Coconut Soup

This is a great 1-pot meal as all the veggies cook right in the coconut milk. Because there is a bit of chopping in this recipe, I like to get that out of the way first. Chop the carrots, mushrooms, cashews, green onions and chili peppers as well as spiralize or chop the zucchini.

When heating up the coconut milk + curry paste mixture, don’t heat up too quickly. I use medium low to medium heat so as not to burn the liquid.

Add the carrots and mushrooms before the zucchini, and allow them to cook 20 minutes, or until the carrots are tender. It won’t take long for the zucchini to heat up and soften, so no need to keep it on the stove long (it will turn mushy).

Once the carrots are ready, then add in the zucchini and just heat for a minute or two (seriously, the zoodles don’t take long!).

You can make this Tom Kha Gai soup a day ahead of time too, and allow the flavors to meld overnight. If doing this, then add the zucchini during the reheating time to keep it fresh. Once you give this thai coconut soup recipe a go, leave a rating below and tell me how it turned out! My friends and family love this soup so much, I bring it to gatherings all winter long.

Tom Kha Gai can also be a vegan Thai coconut curry soup

Levels of Spice in Tom Kha Gai

I love a spicy kick, so this soup has one. Yet if spice isn’t your thing, then let’s make this Thai coconut soup work for you. First, the curry paste adds a lot of flavor. So instead of eliminating it altogether, try to use half the amount, or even a quarter.

If you like the crunch that peppers bring, but can’t handle chilis, then try first to remove the seeds (those are the hottest parts!). If it’s still too spicy, swap it out for a green bell pepper. All the crunch with none of the punch… see what I did there?

If you’re like me and crave a spicy soup, then go ahead and add in more curry paste! You can also top the soup with red pepper flakes.

Tips for storing Thai coconut soup

One reason I love soup is the ease of making a big batch then storing the extras for the future. Soups make quick + easy lunches or weeknight meals when you don’t wanna cook.

If you plan on freezing this soup, I recommend leaving out the zucchini noodles. They are super easy to add when you’re ready to reheat, and they often get slimy when frozen. I even freeze the toppings in a separate container, so they are chopped and ready to add when I pull it out again.

Make sure to store your Thai coconut soup in a freezer safe bag or container. If using glass, leave room for it to expand. I’ve def had some glass mason jars burst in my freezer… and it’s not a fun mess to clean up.

Buying the right coconut milk

Coconut milk is confusing to buy because it comes in many different packages! For this recipe, I recommend using canned coconut milk. The carton kind doesn’t contain the fat needed to make this recipe super silky creamy, which is what takes it over the top. I find the canned variety typically in the international section of the grocery store.

When choosing the right kind for you, decide if you want full fat or lite. I use full fat coconut milk in my thai coconut soup because it has the best flavor + creaminess. Then look at the ingredients. Companies like to add all kinds of crazy stuff to canned products that truly aren’t necessary! Look for limited ingredients that are pronounceable.

With the growing popularity of coconut milk, many stores are stocking more and more variety, which is awesome! Even Target has their own brand now. I typically buy Thai Kitchen, Trader Joe’s, or Thrive Market.

delicious Thai-inspired Tom Kha Gai recipe

Origins of Thai coconut soup

If you’re ordering this soup at a Thai restaurant, you’ll probably see names like Tom kha kai or Tom kha gai. Note that it typically has chicken in it, while my inspired recipe below is vegetarian. It comes from northern Thailand and is traditionally served with rice. To keep my version grain free, I use spiralized zucchini, or zoodles.

Common additions include fresh ginger, lemongrass, and kaffir lime leaves. Don’t hesitate to add these to your recipe; they are sure to taste amazing!

Plant based recipes to share

While you can def add cooked chicken to this recipe, it’s delicious without it! People tell me how hard it is to cook vegetarian, and I get it. I like creating recipes that don’t rely on meat for nutrition, then you can choose to add it or leave it out when you make it (and either is fine). Here are some of my family’s fav plant based dishes:

Food shouldn’t be boring, and it should be easily shared. Grab one of these recipes today and help your family try something new!

How to get your kids to try Tom Kha Gai

Two things help my kids try more foods: helping pick out ingredients and helping cook. As you can see from the video for this Thai coconut soup recipe, Clare was 100% on board to help make this soup. I chose age appropriate ways for her to help, and was okay with less than perfection in the kitchen as we cooked. This Tom Kha Gai soup has foods she traditionally shies away from… yet not when she helps make it!

I also let my kids join in when shopping for ingredients. Jackson loves trying exotic fruit and I’m all for it! He is turning into quite the chef nowadays, and my mama heart is bursting with happiness that he shares my love for good food. Plus, he makes great food and gives Ryan and me the night off cooking (win-win!).

4.51 from 432 votes

Thai Coconut Soup

This Thai Coconut Soup is one my favorite soups of all time because it's a vegan version of Tom Kha Gai. Silky smooth, flavor packed and also can be made spicy, which is my favorite.
Prep: 15 mins
Cook: 30 mins
Total: 45 mins
Author: Jen Hansard
Course: Entree
Cuisine: Plant-Based, Thai-Inspired
Serves: 4

Ingredients  

  • 7 cups coconut milk light or full-fat canned
  • ¼ cup Thai curry paste red or green
  • 2 tsp maple syrup
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • 1 carrot very thinly sliced
  • 1 cup baby bella mushrooms thinly sliced
  • 2 zucchini spiralized

For Serving

  • ¼ cup raw cashews chopped
  • ¼ cup green onions chopped
  • 1 serrano pepper thinly sliced
  • 1 lime cut into wedges

Instructions 

  • In a large saucepan, whisk together the coconut milk and curry paste.
  • Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Stir in the maple syrup and salt.
  • Add the carrots and mushrooms and simmer for 20 minutes, or until the carrots are tender.
  • Add the zucchini noodles. Taste and add more salt, if needed.
  • Ladle into serving bowls and garnish with cashews, scallions, chile pepper, and lime wedges.
  • Serve immediately.

Video

Notes

  • If zucchini ‘noodles’ aren’t your thing, then swap for brown rice or millet ramen
  • You can use a vegetable peeler to create zucchini strips if you don’t have a spiralizer.
  • Use full fat canned coconut milk for the richest flavor, use light canned coconut milk for less fat
  • The nutrition facts are based on full-fat canned coconut milk. Use light canned coconut milk for fewer calories and fat.
  • Omit the chili pepper and halve the amount of Thai curry paste for a less spicy meal

Nutrition

Calories: 397kcal, Carbohydrates: 25g, Protein: 4g, Fat: 28g, Saturated Fat: 24g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 2g, Sodium: 605mg, Potassium: 485mg, Fiber: 3g, Sugar: 8g, Vitamin A: 5157IU, Vitamin C: 26mg, Calcium: 62mg, Iron: 2mg
Tried this recipe? Show me!Mention @SimpleGreenSmoothies or tag #SimpleGreenSmoothies!

About the Author

Jen Hansard

I went from exhausted mama to running across the Grand Canyon, riding & hiking to the top of the tallest waterfall in North America with my kids. How? I fell in love with the smoothies and plant-based meals you can find on my blog.

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Rating




Comments

  1. 3 stars
    It was too rich for me, and needed more vegetables. If I make it again I will use part vegetable broth and and more carrots and mushrooms. Zucchini serial did not add anything for me so I will use rice next time.

    1. Def let us know how you like it next time with your add-ins!

  2. Came out great!! I made it with full-fat coconut milk and just added simple green onion as a topping and it was delicious. I maybe would make it next time without using the ribbons of squash… it made it kind of difficult to get everything on the spoon when I was eating it. Otherwise, loved this! Full flavors, and it stayed well in the fridge when I prepped it the night before.

  3. 5 stars
    This soup had an earthy taste from the mushrooms and the Thai curry paste added a lovely depth to the recipe. I will definitely add this to my menus!

  4. 5 stars
    A truly satisfying meal! It was delicious with a shot of Tamari in it, as I forgot the salt when I was making it. This was the second time I have made it and I really enjoyed it both times. It was a quick and easy make and would have been even quicker if I had had some red curry paste to hand, I had to make some from scratch!

  5. 5 stars
    Good soup. Very rich. I used 3 cans full fat coconut milk and 1.5 C vegetable broth. On my second bowl (it’s all I’m having for lunch) and I can feel the effects of the richness.
    One thing I’d do differently is saute the carrots first so they end up softer. I was concerned the milk would burn simmering too long so they were a little crunch. Very good soup and is certainly a keeper.

    1. Sautéing the carrots first is a great work around Tracy!

  6. 5 stars
    Love this soup, so easy and tasty! I will definitely made again! A few notes: 1) I used 1/2 light and 1/2 regular coconut milk to reduce fat and and retain flavor. 2) I will try adding Serrano or Jalapeño to the soup while cooking to add a little more heat. 3) Just noticed that the notes mention omitting chili powder but chili powder not listed as an ingredient. That would be good to try!

  7. 5 stars
    This soup was amazing! Just spicy enough and loved the zucchini in it!! Will definitely make it again!!

  8. 4 stars
    Made this today and was pleasantly surprised that I liked it! I am not a coconut fan at all, but I used light coconut milk and found it subtle enough that it wasn’t a turn off. The store was out of the Thai red curry paste so I substituted a tablespoon of Thai Red Curry powder I had in my spice cabinet. I used my mandolin to julienne the zucchini which worked well. I would make this one again!

  9. 5 stars
    I loved this! I used a different curry paste than last night’s recipe and it was so good! I also mixed the mushrooms (yuck! Lol) and added some bok choy. I think next time I’ll add a side of jasmine rice.

  10. 5 stars
    I love this Thai Coconut Soup! So easy to prepare using just 1 pot. It’s full of flavor and healthy ingredients which is always a win! First time making the zoodles and first time eating Serrano peppers. Both were great! I followed the recipe exactly and will be saving a spot in my cookbook for this awesome soup recipe!

  11. 5 stars
    This was really tasty! I have used this base to steam mussels before – love the vegan version. The mushrooms are very “meaty”. I am going to poach some shrimp in this as well.

  12. 5 stars
    This soup was sooooo good! Full of flavor and creaminess. Will absolutely put it in the rotation. Thanks for the awesome recipe!!

  13. 5 stars
    I loved how quick and easy this recipe was. I did cut it with some vegetable broth to loosen it up a bit, but that’s more personal preference than anything else. I will definitely be making this again – great for lunches throughout the week!