Thai & Vietnamese

Vegan Thai Coconut Soup

This vegan Thai coconut soup is a light and tasty, totally vegetarian version of Tom Kha Gai – one of Thailand’s most famous soup exports. This soup perfectly balances the sour, sweet, salty and spicy flavours that Thai food is famous for. The best of all? This soup is super simple and ready is just 15 minutes!

This vegan Thai coconut soup is a light and tasty, totally vegetarian version of Tom Kha Gai – one of Thailand’s most famous soup exports. This soup perfectly balances the sour, sweet, salty and spicy flavours that Thai food is famous for. The best of all? This soup is super simple and ready is just 15 minutes!

Now that the chilly weather is creeping in, it’s time to start thinking about getting creative with soups. This vegan Thai coconut soup is definitely different that your run-of-the-mill tomato or minestrone soups – different in a good way, that is!

This soup is flavoured with the delicious fragrances of lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves and galangal (related to ginger) in a coconut base. Tom Kha Gai is lighter and thinner than other coconut-based Thai dishes like vegan red curry and vegetable green curry as the coconut milk is mixed with stock in a 50-50 ratio, making it much easier to take as a soup.

Normally Tom Kha Gai is a chicken soup (I think gai means chicken, but I don’t speak Thai so I can’t tell you for sure!) with chunks of chicken and chicken stock. They’re easy enough to replace with vegetable stock and tofu, and lots of vegetarian versions dub this soup Tom Kha Tofu.

The other small issue is the ubiquitous fish sauce. But that can also easily be substituted for a vegetarian fish sauce (if you eat Thai food a lot, it’s worth it to keep a batch on hand) or soy sauce.

This vegan Thai coconut soup is a light and tasty, totally vegetarian version of Tom Kha Gai – one of Thailand’s most famous soup exports. This soup perfectly balances the sour, sweet, salty and spicy flavours that Thai food is famous for. The best of all? This soup is super simple and ready is just 15 minutes!If you live in a big city, lemongrass and lime leaves should be fairly easy to find. A lot of regular supermarkets carry them now and, if not, an Asian supermarket is sure to have them. The galangal may be slightly more difficult to track down.

A lot of vegan Tom Kha Gai recipes suggest you can substitute ginger, but I personally think the flavour is too different for this recipe. I’d suggest doing your very best to find galangal and if not, just leave it out rather than substitute for ginger.

According to Eating Thai Food’s Tom Kha Gai recipe, the soup is not meant to be overly spicy so don’t go crazy with the chili peppers. Also, despite the coconut milk, the flavour profile should be predominantly sour, followed by salty then sweet. Be sure to taste your soup at the end of cooking and make any adjustments necessary.

In Thailand, Tom Kha Gai usually eaten alongside rice, with the soup being spooned over the rice to make something more similar to a curry than a soup. It does make more of a complete meal with rice, but this vegan Thai coconut soup is so delicious that you can certainly go at it with just a spoon alone!

If you liked this recipe and Thai soups in general, be sure to check out my vegan tom yum soup recipe!

Vegan Thai Coconut Soup

Vegan Thai Coconut Soup

Yield: Serves 4
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes

This vegan Thai coconut soup is a light and tasty, totally vegetarian version of Tom Kha Gai – one of Thailand’s most famous soup exports.

Ingredients

  • 3 cups vegetable stock
  • 3 cups coconut milk
  • 2 stalks of lemongrass, sliced into 3 cm (1 inch) pieces
  • A piece of galangal about 7 cm (3 inches) long, unpeeled and sliced thinly
  • 6 kaffir lime leaves, make tears in them and scrunch them in your hand to release the flavour
  • A medium-sized onion, cut into 1 cm (1/4 inch) slices
  • 200 grams (7 oz) of oyster mushrooms, larger ones chopped
  • 3 – 5 spicy chili peppers (like bird’s-eye), adjust to taste
  • 200 grams (7 oz) of tofu, drained, pressed and cut into bite-sized pieces
  • The juice of 2 – 3 limes
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • A handful of chopped cilantro
  • Jasmine rice, to serve

Instructions

  1. Begin by reducing the vegetable stock. Pour it into a wide saucepan and simmer until you’re left with 1.5 cups. Transfer to a medium-sized pot.
  2. Smash the lemongrass pieces with the side of your knife or in a mortar and pestle, then add it, the galangal, lime leaves and coconut milk to the pot with the vegetable stock. Heat to a gentle simmer. Add the onion and mushrooms. Simmer for about 5 – 10 minutes, or until the onion is soft.
  3. Smash the chili peppers with your knife or mortar and pestle and add them along with the tofu to the pot. Simmer for 2 – 3 minutes more or until the tofu is warmed through.
  4. Remove the pot from the heat and add the lime juice, soy sauce, sugar and cilantro. Taste and adjust the balance of sour, salty and sweet. The flavour profile should be predominantly sour, followed by salty then sweet.
  5. Serve with jasmine rice.
  6. Note: you can’t eat the galangal, lime leaves or lemongrass pieces; leave them in your bowl!
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 643 Total Fat: 40g Saturated Fat: 33g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 4g Cholesterol: 0mg Sodium: 1236mg Carbohydrates: 66g Net Carbohydrates: 0g Fiber: 4g Sugar: 21g Sugar Alcohols: 0g Protein: 15g

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22 Comments

  • Reply
    Angie - WhippedGreenGirl
    September 29, 2016 at 1:19 am

    This is truly one of my fav soups in the world!!! I’m so stoked to pin this one & give it a go! Amazing share! 🙂 Thanks !!!

    • Reply
      Melissa
      September 29, 2016 at 7:09 pm

      Thanks Angie!

  • Reply
    Elizabeth
    October 10, 2016 at 12:52 am

    Just made this for dinner; it was delicious! I was missing a few ingredients so I had to leave out the kaffir lime leaves, galangal, and brown sugar, but it was still really yummy without those items. (I added the zest of two limes to replace the lime leaves and I added a couple pieces of ginger.)

    I’ll definitely make this one again!

  • Reply
    R
    January 23, 2017 at 7:54 pm

    Eating this right now and it’s SO good! Was out of tofu so threw in some steamed carrots and cabbage to sort of fill out the soup. Also spaced on the peppers. Still totally delicious. Thank you for my lunch!

  • Reply
    Kylie
    December 3, 2017 at 7:49 pm

    Do you use the canned coconut milk, or from the carton?

    • Reply
      Melissa
      December 4, 2017 at 11:43 am

      Canned

  • Reply
    Crystine
    December 3, 2017 at 10:30 pm

    This was incredible and I am hard to please when it come to this soup! We did sub some salt for tamari as we ran out and I might take a bit of the sugar out next time…just a bit. We also added a broccolini and small sweet red peppers. Just so, so tasty. Thanks so much!

  • Reply
    Sarah
    February 28, 2018 at 1:17 am

    This was SO GOOD! Tasted exactly like the Tom Kha from our favorite Thai restaurant. Thank you!

  • Reply
    Cortlan
    May 3, 2018 at 10:25 pm

    Gai does mean chicken! Nice guess. 🙂

  • Reply
    Rachel
    May 15, 2018 at 12:54 am

    The flavor of this is outstanding, but having to pick all the inedible pieces out really made eating it hard to enjoy. :c If anyone’s reading this: simmer the galangal, leaves, and lemongrass in the broth and then strain it! You’ll save yourself a lot of bother.

  • Reply
    Sarah
    July 26, 2018 at 1:03 am

    Any information on canning this recipe would be awesome!

  • Reply
    Mish
    August 15, 2018 at 7:00 pm

    Probably my fav soup!

    • Reply
      Melissa
      August 22, 2018 at 7:46 pm

      Glad you like it!

  • Reply
    Amy
    September 29, 2018 at 12:25 am

    I’m eating this now and it is so delicious! I had made a few chicken versions before I went vegan and this blows them out of the water! I’m excited to try your other recipes now. Thank you!

  • Reply
    Amy
    September 29, 2018 at 12:28 am

    I forgot to add that I did reduce the sugar a bit, maybe to about 1.5 teaspoons. I also added my cilantro right before serving + sliced green onions.

  • Reply
    Luke
    December 19, 2018 at 10:52 pm

    I followed this recipe closely and I’d recommend only 1 lime, only one or two tablespoons of soy sauce, and less sugar. Otherwise it’s nice 🙂

  • Reply
    Sharon
    April 27, 2019 at 10:41 pm

    Can you make this and freeze?

    • Reply
      Melissa
      April 29, 2019 at 9:06 am

      I don’t see why not.

  • Reply
    Leslie Uyeno
    May 21, 2019 at 3:08 am

    Finally made this last night… WOW WOW WOW!!! This is a game changer!

  • Reply
    Lillian
    August 2, 2019 at 3:55 am

    This was so tasty I couldn’t find galangal and Kaffir lime leaves and subbed ginger, lime zest, and lemon leaves. It didn’t taste exactly how it was supposed to because of it, but I still liked it!

  • Reply
    Vicky
    August 3, 2019 at 8:16 pm

    This was amazing and just what I was looking for! My 4 year old LOVES coconut soup and tofu. I was able to find all of these ingredients at an international grocery store in Atlanta.

    I change one part: I double the recipe but don’t double the mushrooms, onions, or tofu because I thought it was too busy. Oh, and no peppers since my son’s eating it. It’s perfect! Thank you!

  • Reply
    Sven
    November 5, 2019 at 7:42 pm

    Very tasty recipe! We replaced the tofu with broccoli , used ginger as a replacement for the galangal and left out the kaffir leaves but still tasted amazing.

    I used lemon grass for the first time and the Hint that i cant eat it came way to late for me, i chopped it finely since I thought its onion like and it kinda ruined it, I had to fish it out of my soup which didnt worked very well…next time I should read till the end.

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