9.24.2021

Thai Coconut Soup

I can’t begin to tell you how much I love this vegan Thai Coconut Soup, also called Tom Kha Gai. It’s nourishing, comforting and easy to make with just one pot.

Thai coconut soup with lime and cashew for toppings

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!

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!).

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.
4.5 from 334 votes
PRINT RATE IT Print Recipe
Course: Entree
Cuisine: Plant-Based, Thai-Inspired
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Servings: 4
Author: Jen Hansard

Ingredients

  • 7 cups coconut milk - lite or full-fat
  • 1/4 cup Thai curry paste - red or green
  • 2 tsp maple syrup
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 carrot - very thinly sliced
  • 1 cup baby bella mushrooms - thinly sliced
  • 2 zucchini - spiralized

For Serving

  • 1/4 cup raw cashews - chopped
  • 1/4 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: 873kcal | Carbohydrates: 22.7g | Protein: 11.3g | Fat: 88.5g | Saturated Fat: 76g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 6g | Sodium: 365mg | Potassium: 1355mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 5157IU | Vitamin C: 30mg | Calcium: 133mg | Iron: 15mg
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Ratings & Comments

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410
  1. JW says:

    5 stars
    Delicious soup. The lime really does take the flavour to more complex levels!
    When I reheated leftovers, I added more mushrooms and some cooked chicken. The result: a rival with the yummiest restaurant standard thai soups! Will most definitely make again
    Easy, healthy and really great flavour. A winning combination!

  2. Elizabeth Agase says:

    5 stars
    Excellent recipe and easy to make. Very filling and satisfying. Who knew I could make curry? Thank you!

  3. Phil Bender says:

    5 stars
    One of the reasons I visit Thai Restaurants is to get one of the coconut soups. After making and loving this version, I will no long need to go buy it when instead I can make it at home or at a friends home if they have a decent blender, you know Jen, the kind that costs more than $100 (LOL). From the 10-day soup challenge I learned a bunch of ways to vary this recipe and additional ingredients to use. This is one of my all time favorites. I believe I had already rated this soup, but I’m going thru them all again, because I have benefited so much in many ways from participating in this, like you said Jen, its so much more about making and eating soup.

  4. Linda P. Sency says:

    5 stars
    Fantastic! Used the zucchini noodles (and a bit of rice) fr a delicious soup dinner that my Husband slurped down in a minute. The ingredients blend to make a SUPER flavor-fulled soup. As always, with Jen’s recipes, it will be a make again for sure.

  5. Anne Hartman says:

    5 stars
    Loved this one! We added all the garnishes and thought they added a lot to the soup. Loved the zucchini noodles but will definitely cut them into shorter pieces next time!

  6. Akemi Bennett says:

    5 stars
    Tom Ka is on of my favorites of all time and this one….wow! Really love it!!

  7. Joy says:

    5 stars
    I loved it, my family did not. I will definitely make this again for myself.

  8. Karla Erovick says:

    4 stars
    Loved the exotic flavors of this soup but felt it needed more vegetables to counteract the richness of so much coconut milk.

  9. Beki Ward says:

    5 stars
    What a wonderful combination of flavors. I really enjoyed this recipe!

  10. Bob J says:

    3 stars
    This soup was a bit disappointing to me–I guess I wanted the coconut flavor to be sweeter and more dominant. The base of the soup (canned coconut milk) provided a lot of calories with little taste. Maybe it was the fact I used the light version of the coconut milk, or maybe it was the brand, but I couldn’t really recommend it. On the other hand. I absolutely loved the vegetables, especially the zucchini strips (I don’t have a spiralizer, so I used the peeler method)! They took on a texture that had great “mouth feel”. And, I added some shredded cooked chicken breast. Once I drained off most of the coconut milk, I really enjoyed the chicken and veggies. I doubt I’ll make this again, but I will be adding zucchini strips to future soups.

    • Simple Green Smoothies says:

      Glad you loved the veggies in this one! We’d def go for the full-fat coconut milk next time for that amazing robust flavor you’re looking for.

  11. Vicky White says:

    4 stars
    I was a little nervous about the spicy heat so I halved the Red curry spice. I should have used the whole amount. I used red onion instead of green onion and red pepper diced instead of the poblano pepper. I poured the soup over brown rice to make it a main dish. I didn’t have a spiralizer so used a peeler and it worked fine with the zucchini.
    Really delicious flavor.

  12. Tanya says:

    4 stars
    Pretty good, though I think I am with the group that wants to add more carrots.

  13. Jessica Watkins says:

    4 stars
    This soup turned out so pretty and so fresh. I really like how light it was. – Yet filling. I saw someone else added a little basil on top and will try that next time.

  14. Michelle says:

    5 stars
    Loved this soup! I accidentally bought an Asian Chili paste instead of curry paste when shopping, and didn’t realize until I had already started, so I just went with it, and it was delicious. Looking forward to trying it with curry paste next time as this will be on regular rotation. I added some home made bone broth as I am trying to incorporate that into my daily diet as much as possible. It cut the richness somewhat but left the flavor profile and win- it stretched the recipe so I had more wonderful soup. It is very satisfying and filling. I had it as a side to dinner, and ended up having a little more soup and saving the rest of my dinner fo another day!

    • Simple Green Smoothies says:

      That IS a total win Michelle! So glad to know that Asian Chili paste works well here too. Thanks for sharing!

  15. Maura HOWERTON says:

    My favorite of all the soups I’ve made. Definitely like green curry better than red.

  16. Glenda Sharpe says:

    5 stars
    The Best! Definitely my favourite so far!

  17. Pamela J. Carlson says:

    I liked this but didn’t love it. I used 3 tbsps of green curry, which gave it just a little heat, but I could’ve used the entire ¼ cup. If I were to make this again, I would add another carrot. One carrot just sort of disappeared in the coconut milk. I really loved the spiralized zucchini, and the soup had good flavor.

  18. Elina Z says:

    5 stars
    I did not use coconut milk, nor did I add mushrooms, because my kid doesn’t like coconuts and mushrooms. Surprisingly, the soup tastes good. We used the leftover soup to make noodles. My child actually liked it very much.

  19. Joseph Adams says:

    5 stars
    This was a great surprise. I had never eaten coconut soup. It was delicious. Thank you for this great recipe.

  20. Michelle says:

    5 stars
    This Thai coconut soup is AWESOME!!!

  21. Sheryl says:

    1 star
    Really bland

  22. Linda Brooks says:

    3 stars
    I would have liked more veggies in the soup. Next time I would add another carrot and more mushrooms. I found the soup was rich but not very filling. I added a thai chili pepper for some heat.

  23. Veronica says:

    4 stars
    This soup is delicious. Not a fan of coconut milk or curry however it totally worked in this recipe. I would add more carrots next time. Also, I only used half the curry paste.

  24. betty baron-kuhn says:

    5 stars
    this is the best of the 10 day soup challenge so far and I loved the other recipes too It tastes so good I had to fight my husband off but he did not believe me when I said it is terrible how could when the smell was just heavenly 🙂

  25. Melanie Judd says:

    5 stars
    Finally made it. Dumped all the contents into a microwave safe bowl and five minutes later boom, amazing soup. Clearly changed it to a serving of one first. Children all forced to take a bite because I’m a horrible, horrible parent. They begrudgingly admitted it was tasty. Then they had tacos anyway. Works out well, leaves me alone with my delicious soup!

    • Simple Green Smoothies says:

      You’re totally parent of the year in our book!!! Way to rawk this busy mama! xoxo

  26. Amanda Iiams says:

    This soup was just ok. I made as the recipe said but it was bland. I had to add way more salt, garlic powder, 3 times the curry and serve with siracha. It wasn’t that I wanted it spicy, even with all I added it was still mild. It just had no flavor. I agree with one of the comments, needed more veggies. If I make it again, I will add way more veggies.

    • Simple Green Smoothies says:

      Sounds like you have a solid plan for how to make this a winner for you next time! Thanks for rawkin this soup with us Amanda!

  27. Bonnie says:

    3 stars
    Good flavor but I prefer a heartier soup.

  28. Terri Ertlmeier says:

    5 stars
    I am one day behind on the soup challenge our group is on. Love this recipe. I do not like curry so i changed it out for chili paste and it was great.

  29. Liane K says:

    5 stars
    Of course this is slamming’. Usually have to make extra to share with the nephew and fam. Its so easy with so much flavor. Too bad can only get that curry paste in such a small bottle when trying to make so much of this soup. But it’s all good, really.

  30. Susan McFadden says:

    4 stars
    Love this coconut milk soup. Needs more veggies like broccoli, red pepper, and Thai basil.

  31. Joanne S says:

    5 stars
    I loved this soup – even more than expected! My heart health led me to use 2 cans of coconut cream, 1 can of coconut water and and 1 can of homemade broth – It still had plenty of delicious coconut flavor. I also replaced the mushrooms (not a fan) with air-fried eggplant and tofu. My favorite of the soups so far and not a recipe type I had in my repertoire previously.

    • Simple Green Smoothies says:

      Glad we could help diversify your soup portfolio! Stay well Joanne. 🙂

  32. Wendy J Campbell says:

    5 stars
    Another winner in flavor and SO easy to make! One of my sons (who’s not a picky eater) and I will enjoy this for lunch this week!

  33. Angela DeMoss says:

    4 stars
    Soup is good but for my spicy palate, it needs sriracha and a lot more veggies and protein. I threw in some wontons, but it would definitely benefit from chicken, shrimp, and bamboo shoots. It wouldn’t be vegan, then, but folks could use tofu or just crank up the amount of veggies. Baby bok Choy might be good, too. The basic flavor profile, though, is on point!

  34. Jacqueline Strawn says:

    4 stars
    comfy soup…loved the smooth feeling. Will definitely make it again but use 3 cans of coconut milk and add shrimp instead of zucchini.

  35. Dan says:

    5 stars
    Very creamy, filling, and warm flavor!

  36. Carmina says:

    5 stars
    This soup was absolutely amazing that I can’t believe it was that way to make! Definitely my favorite soup from this challenge.

  37. Suzanne says:

    4 stars
    Creamy and nutritious and filling soup.

  38. Victoria says:

    4 stars
    This was yummy! I think it was a little thin for me though, next time I’ll use way more veggies since I prefer a fuller soup. But the flavor was great and I think it would have been perfect if I was able to get the cans of coconut milk versus the cartons, the cartons didn’t offer as full of a flavor.

  39. Cristina says:

    3 stars
    Delicious.

  40. Jenny dunivan says:

    4 stars
    It was a pretty good soup not my favorite but with some glass noodles and some nut I like it.

  41. Emily says:

    4 stars
    Didn’t have enough curry paste and it wasn’t as good as the first time I made it. Don’t be shy with the curry! Not my favorite soup of the challenge so far but still a nice creamy soup and the veggies provide some great texture. The toppings are a must!

  42. Laura C says:

    5 stars
    So delicious! So creamy and filling! So much flavor. My whole family loved it. We will definitely be making it again!

  43. Tina says:

    5 stars
    So good, entire family enjoyed it.

  44. Sierrah says:

    5 stars
    Favorite! I love anything coconut and this soup was spot on. When ordering from restaurants this soups seems intimidating to make, however that is not the case. Veggies, seasoning, and coconut milk boom – ting done! The family also approved so I’m happy all around.

  45. Tiana says:

    Super easy and quick to make

  46. Esther says:

    5 stars
    Yum! Not as spicy as I thought it would be (used the green curry paste I already had on hand). The lime really kicked up the flavor.

  47. Kassie Gada says:

    5 stars
    Was a little nervous to add 1/4 cup of curry paste but wasn’t too spicy at all. Great flavor! Can you freeze?

    • Simple Green Smoothies says:

      Yay Kassie! So glad you went for it with the curry paste! Yes, you can freeze this soup for sure. Your future self will thank you.

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About Jen Hansard

Mom of 2, ran across the Grand Canyon and lover of smoothies, coffee & tacos. I transformed my family's health with a realistic plant-based diet. I also found myself again along the way.

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