Tom Kha Gai (Chicken Soup with Galangal)


Recipe Intro From annafatlowitz

One of my absolute favorite dishes growing up was my mom's tom kha gai recipe—literally boiled galangal soup with chicken. Whenever I was sick or feeling like I needed comfort food, she’d always show me she cared with this dish. I couldn't help but take seconds and thirds!

As many Asian Americans know, it’s always hard to nail down recipes from our parents who “don’t measure ingredients.” So this is my take on my mom’s tom kha gai with her chicken preparation (which I never see in restaurants!) and a reduced amount of coconut milk. Less coconut milk gives it a richer, less sweet flavor and I think it makes the dish more balanced with flavors.

This recipe is part of our Special Edition Meal Planner dedicated to celebrating Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month.


  • As it's a key ingredient in tom kha gai, galangal cannot be substituted with ginger. Galangal has a sharp citrusy, almost piney flavor, which is quite different from ginger.
  • It’s common to leave the lemongrass, galangal, and kaffir lime leaves in the soup, but don’t eat them!
  • You will need to melt the palm sugar in the microwave or on the stovetop with a little water before measuring.
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  • Recipe Card
Prep time 15mins
Cook time 30mins
Serves or Makes: 4

Recipe Card


  • 8 cups unsalted chicken stock
  • 2 pounds chicken wings, wingettes and drumettes separated
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup full-fat coconut milk
  • 3 stalks lemongrass, peeled and pounded with the back of a knife, cut into 2” pieces
  • 10 slices galangal
  • 6 kaffir lime leaves, roughly torn
  • 5 Thai chilies, sliced into ½” pieces (add more or less depending on your spice level)
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce (gluten-free if necessary), divided
  • 1 teaspoon palm sugar, melted
  • 3 ounces oyster mushrooms, torn into pieces
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons lime juice
  • Handful cilantro, chopped
  • 4 cups cooked jasmine rice


  • Step 1

    Bring chicken broth to a boil in a large pot and add chicken wings. Add salt and reduce to a simmer for 20 minutes. Skim off any fat that accumulates on top of the broth.

  • Step 2

    Add coconut milk, lemongrass, galangal, kaffir lime leaves, Thai chilies, 1 tablespoon fish sauce, and palm sugar and stir to combine. Return to a boil, then reduce to a simmer for 3-5 minutes.

  • Step 3

    Add mushrooms and cook for 1-2 minutes until cooked through.

  • Step 4

    Taste and season with more fish sauce as needed. Turn off heat and add lime juice.

  • Step 5

    Serve broth over rice, then top with cilantro. Squeeze more lime juice on top, if desired.