Vegan Tom Kha Gai (Thai Coconut Soup)
Tom Kha Gai is a Thai coconut soup traditionally made with chicken and mushrooms. I got the idea to make this soup after watching an episode of “Guy’s Grocery Games” (I love that show so much), in which a father and daughter made the soup based on one from her childhood memories. It looked delicious, it looked healthy and it looked fairly easy, so I decided to give it a try—plus, Thai just might be my favorite cuisine.
Since I wasn’t using chicken, I decided to throw in some broccoli and cauliflower to make the soup a bit heartier (certainly not traditional, but hey, what’re you gonna do). You could also use tofu or faux chicken as a meat substitute. The key to this soup is letting the broth slowly simmer to allow the flavors to meld together in beautiful harmony. You’ll end up with a super light and flavorful concoction that’s delicious any time of year!
P.S.—I had to visit my local Asian grocery store to find lemongrass and Thai chiles. If you’re lucky, one of your nearby traditional grocery stores might stock these items, but even our local Whole Foods didn’t carry them. If you can’t find these ingredients for whatever reason, you could substitute the lemongrass for lemon zest and use a jalapeño or serrano pepper in place of the Thai chiles.
1 T. grapeseed oil or coconut oil
1 yellow onion, sliced
4 garlic cloves, minced
2-4 Thai chiles, de-seeded and diced
2 T. fresh ginger, peeled and minced
1 lemongrass stalk, diced (see *note in recipe)
1 t. Thai red curry paste
1 t. Thai green curry paste
5 c. vegetable broth
5 c. light coconut milk
8 oz. white mushroom, sliced
3-4 oyster mushrooms, chopped
1 small cauliflower head, cut into florets
1 small broccoli head, cut into florets
2 T. coconut aminos
2 T. low-sodium soy sauce
Juice of one lime
Green onions and cilantro, to garnish
*Note: this was my first time ever cooking with lemongrass, so I wanted to give you some tips in case you’re unfamiliar with it too. You’ll want to use only the bottom four inches or so, not the top part that looks like stalks. Cut off the woody bottom, then use the flat edge of your knife to smash the lemongrass, sort of like you would smash garlic to remove the skins. Peel off the dry and tough outer layers before chopping. You want to use only the soft, white inner part of the lemongrass.
1) Heat the grapeseed or coconut oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, Thai chiles, ginger, lemongrass and curry pastes and cook, stirring occasionally, for five minutes.
2) Add the vegetable broth and bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes.
3) Add the coconut milk and bring back to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
4) Add the mushrooms and simmer for 10 minutes.
5) Add the broccoli and cauliflower and simmer for 15 minutes.
6) Add the coconut aminos, soy sauce and lime juice and simmer for five minutes.
7) Serve and garnish with green onions and cilantro.