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Tom Kha Goong Soup (Thai Coconut Shrimp Soup)

This Tom Kha Shrimp Soup captures the creamy and comforting essence of traditional Thai coconut soup. It showcases shrimp in a rich coconut milk-based broth bursting with aromatic galangal, lemongrass, and red curry. Tom kha chicken soup, vegan, and Whole30 modifications included.  

a pot of tom kha goong with a bowl of soup served with chili oil for drizzling on top

Full disclosure: I’m obsessed with Thai food. There’s nothing like an authentic Thai dish’s dimensional flavors, textures, and beautiful colors. Plus, the core ingredients in Thai cuisine are dairy-free and gluten-free, so it’s good for you!

Still, if I have to pick my absolute favorite Thai dish, it will always be tom kha soup. Considering the complex flavored sweet, tangy, and pleasantly salty broth, you’d think making it from scratch would be complicated. 

However, the first time I made tom kha soup with chicken (aka tom kha gai), I found this soup is ridiculously easy! With that said, making this tom kha soup with shrimp recipe (aka tom kha goong) was a no-brainer! 

What is tom kha soup?

The base of tom kha soup is typically seasoned chicken broth combined with coconut milk for a luxuriously silky mouthfeel. It gets its distinct hot and sour flavor from aromatics like galangal, lemongrass, red curry paste, fish sauce, and fresh lime. 
While it can easily be made vegetarian, tom kha soup often consists of chicken (tom kha gai) or shrimp (tom kha goong). Either way, tom kha soup is a delicious alternative to chicken soup when you want to warm up with a soothing, cozy bowl of soup.

Why you’ll love this recipe

  • This recipe focuses on how to make Thai coconut curry soup with shrimp but also includes vegetarian, chicken, and Whole30 variations.
  • It’s quick and easy to make with ingredients you’ll find in your local grocery store. 
  • It’s everything you crave about tom kha shrimp soup made from the comfort of your kitchen.

Ingredients you’ll need

ingredients for tom kha shrimp measured out into bowls on a counter ready to cook

The following is an overview of the ingredients in tom kha shrimp soup (keep scrolling for the full recipe):

  • Coconut oil To coat the bottom of the pot and saute the aromatics. 
  • Aromatics Sautéed sweet Vidalia onion and garlic add depth of flavor to the broth. You can substitute whatever onion you already have, but fresh garlic is non-negotiable. 
  • Galangal This ingredient can be hard to find, so I often swap it with a 1″ piece of peeled ginger with delicious results. However, it does change the authentic flavor profile a bit. Read more about substituting ginger for galangal.   
  • Lemongrass paste – Lemongrass paste adds a fragrant lemony, gingery element. 
  • Red curry paste –This gives the soup a bold, moderately spicy dimension. 
  • Chicken stock – Use a rich, flavorful homemade or store-bought stock or broth.
  • Canned coconut milk – This must be full-fat coconut milk from a can, NOT light coconut milk. 
  • Mushrooms – Sliced button mushrooms elevate the umami and add a delicious textural dimension. 
  • Lime juice – For the tart and tangy element, you’ll need the juice from about two limes, but have a couple of extras on hand to cut into wedges for serving. 
  • Brown sugar – The touch of sweetness helps balance the zesty flavors. 
  • Fish sauce – This intensifies the savory umami element. The flavor is very concentrated, so be careful not to add too much. 
  • Cilantro – You’ll need the stems to simmer in the soup and the leaves for serving. 
  • Raw shrimp – Peeled and deveined large to jumbo shrimp are suitable sizes for this soup recipe. Feel free to use frozen, raw shrimp. You’ll just have to thaw them in the fridge or under cold running tap water first. Be sure to pat them dry before adding to the soup.

How to make tom kha soup with shrimp

collage photo of making tom kha shrimp: sauteed onions, adding curry paste and lemongrass, adding stock, finishing with mushrooms and seasonings

Step 1: Sauté the aromatics. Heat coconut oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic, and sauté until soft before stirring in the lemongrass and red curry paste.

Step 2: Simmer stock with the aromatics. Add the chicken stock and galangal (or ginger) to the pot, give everything a good stir, and bring it to a boil. Then, reduce the heat to low and simmer uncovered for 20 minutes. 

Step 3: Strain the stock. From here, you can strain the stock to remove the aromatics, but I prefer to remove the pieces of galangal and leave the onions and garlic for the added texture. Totally up to you!

Step 4: Simmer the seasoned stock. Pour the strained stock back into the pot and return the liquid to a boil (this is when you’d add thinly sliced chicken if you’re making tom kha gai). Reduce the heat to low, add the remaining ingredients except for the shrimp, and let simmer for ten more minutes.

Step 5: Add shrimp. Add the shrimp and cook just until pink. This will only take a minute or two, so do not leave the soup unattended. 

Step 6: Garnish and serve. Serve the soup immediately with lime wedges, cilantro, green onions, and a drizzle of chili oil -and enjoy!

side view of a bowl of tom kha shrimp soup with a pot of soup and lime slices and herbs behind it

Recipe tips

  • The red curry makes this soup moderately spicy. However, if you don’t like spicy foods at all, you can swap the red curry paste with a mild yellow curry or Massaman curry -or make it extra spicy by sauteing minced jalapenos or Thai red chilis with the aromatics, garnishing with jalapeno slices or adding cayenne pepper, Thai chili paste, or Sriracha. 
  • You may find the saltiness from the stock and fish sauce sufficient, so do not add salt until you’ve tasted the finished soup.  
  • If you have cooked shrimp on hand, feel free to use them, but add the cooked shrimp at the end so they do not overcook and become chewy. 

Variations

Vegetarian/vegan – Use vegetable broth or stock, vegan fish sauce (or soy sauce if you can’t find it), and swap the shrimp with cubed extra firm tofu. Also, when you add the mushrooms, you can toss in other veggies like thin slices of red bell pepper, zucchini, or broccoli florets.

Chicken tom kha soup – Add thinly sliced chicken to the soup during the last 10-12 minutes of the cooking time. Or try my slow cooker coconut curry chicken soup

Paleo and Whole30 – Use compliant broth, stock or bone broth, coconut aminos instead of brown sugar, and a compliant fish sauce (like Red Boat). The remaining ingredients are inherently okay for paleo and Whole30. 

Serving suggestions

Tom kha soup is often served with steamed rice, but cauliflower rice, zucchini noodles, or flat rice noodles would also be great. As for garnishes, you can’t go wrong with the following:

  • Fresh cilantro 
  • Lime wedges
  • Thinly sliced scallions
  • Thai basil 
  • Mung bean sprouts
  • Chopped peanuts
  • Chili oil (for drizzling)

Storing & freezing

  • Storing: Tom kha shrimp soup is best consumed immediately. If you have leftovers, let them cool to room temperature and store them in an airtight container in the fridge for 2-3 days. 
  • Freezing: Let the soup cool completely, then add it to an airtight freezer-proof storage bag or container and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw in the fridge before reheating. 
  • Reheating: You can reheat the soup in the microwave for 2-3 minutes or in a saucepan over medium heat until warm.

FAQs

Should the shrimp in tom kha goong be tail-on or tail-off?

I’ve had it served both ways in Thai restaurants, so whether or not you leave the tail on is up to you. If you remove the tails, you can simmer them in the stock along with the aromatics for added flavor. Just be sure to strain the tails from the liquid before moving on to the next step.

What’s the difference between tom kha goong and tom yum goong?

While these two popular Thai soups showcase juicy shrimp and many of the same ingredients, tom kha goong specifically refers to shrimp soup with a seasoned creamy coconut milk broth. Whereas tom yum goong refers to shrimp soup with a seasoned, iridescent broth. 

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a bowl of thai shrimp soup with a napkin, spoon and limes, cilantro stems, and chili oil
a bowl of tom kha shrimp with a spoon and a napkin

Tom Kha Shrimp Soup {Tom Kha Goong}

An easy recipe for flavorful Thai soup made with coconut milk, chicken broth, and shrimp. Heat is easily adjusted from mild to hot with a chicken variation included.
4.86 from 7 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Soup
Cuisine: Thai
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Servings: 4
Calories: 520kcal
Author: Amee

Equipment

  • 1 Dutch Oven

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1/2 sweet Vidalia onion finely chopped
  • 3 large garlic cloves minced
  • 6 slices galangal This ingredient can be hard to find. I often swap with a 1" piece of peeled ginger with delicious results. However, it does change the flavor profile a bit from traditional Tom Kha.
  • 2 tbsp lemongrass paste
  • 2 tbsp red curry paste
  • 2 cups chicken stock or chicken broth
  • 2 cups canned coconut milk use full-fat not light
  • 8 oz button mushrooms sliced
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • 4 tbsp fresh lime juice about 2 large limes juiced
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 3 stems cilantro
  • 1 lb raw shrimp peeled and deveined. You can also use 1 lb of thinly sliced boneless chicken breast. *see notes
  • Optional garnishes: chopped green onions, lime wedges, additional chopped cilantro, and chili oil for drizzling

Instructions

  • In a dutch oven, heat coconut oil over medium heat.
  • Add the onion and garlic and saute for 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently, until the onion is soft.
  • Add the lemongrass paste and the red curry paste and stir to mix.
  • Add the chicken stock and galangal (or ginger), stir, and bring to a boil.
  • Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes, uncovered.
  • Strain the liquid in a fine mesh sieve to remove the aromatics. I prefer to skip this step and just remove the galangal (or ginger root) and keep the onions and garlic in the stock for more texture.
  • Add the strained liquid back to the pot and bring it to a boil. This is where you would add the thinly sliced chicken breast to the pot if swapping for the shrimp. As soon as it reaches a boil, reduce the heat to low.
  • Add the coconut milk, mushrooms, cilantro stems, fish sauce, lime juice, and brown sugar.
  • Simmer this mixture for 10 more minutes.
  • Add in the shrimp and cook for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes until just pink.
  • Serve immediately garnished with a lime wedge, cilantro, green onions, and chili oil for drizzling.

Notes

  • The red curry makes this soup moderately spicy. However, if you don’t like spicy foods at all, you can swap the red curry paste with a mild yellow curry or Massaman curry -or make it extra spicy by sauteing minced jalapenos or Thai red chilis with the aromatics, garnishing with jalapeno slices or adding cayenne pepper, Thai chili paste, or Sriracha. 
  • You may find the saltiness from the stock and fish sauce sufficient, so do not add salt until you’ve tasted the finished soup.  
  • If you have cooked shrimp on hand, feel free to use them, but add the cooked shrimp at the end so they do not overcook and become chewy. 
  • See the “variations” section of the post for more ideas!
 

Nutrition

Calories: 520kcal | Carbohydrates: 25g | Protein: 24g | Fat: 39g | Saturated Fat: 32g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Trans Fat: 0.01g | Cholesterol: 146mg | Sodium: 1191mg | Potassium: 840mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 14g | Vitamin A: 1448IU | Vitamin C: 12mg | Calcium: 115mg | Iron: 3mg
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Amee Livingston
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5 Comments

  1. That soup looks like Christmas in a bowl! 🙂 Thanks for an enticing recipe and your thoughts on healthy eating. You showed that you don’t have to give up FLAVOR!

  2. Can I use curry powder? I couldn’t find yellow paste and they were out of green so the only paste I found was red.

    1. They really aren’t interchangeable. The curry powder is more Indian based with turmeric and the Thai curry paste has an entirely different flavor. It usually contains fresh coriander, fresh garlic, fresh chilies, etc.

4.86 from 7 votes (7 ratings without comment)

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