Vegan Tom Kaa Gai- classic Thai coconut milk soup made with cubed tofu in place of chicken. It’s creamy, comforting, and takes just 30 minutes to make!
One of my favorite memories from our trip to Thailand was the day we spent at the Thai Farm Cooking School. It was the last day we had in Chiang Mai and I was starting to feel a little run down by that point but there was no way I was about to miss that cooking class. I popped a few Advil and did my best to power through a full day in the kitchen preparing authentic Thai food.
The first thing on the menu was this coconut milk soup and after one spoonful, I instantly fell in love. It must have been 100 degrees with 98% humidity that day too, but I didn’t care. It tasted so good and offered comfort for my sore throat in the best way possible.
At first I was intimated by the long and somewhat complex ingredient list but as it turns out, it’s very easy to prepare and it comes together quite fast. Once you have everything chopped and ready to go, it only takes 15 minutes to cook.
Part of that is because we’re not using chicken like the classic recipe calls for. There’s no waiting to make sure your raw meat is cooked through…as long as the tofu is warm that’s all that matters, right? ;)
Our teacher (Garnet, who was awesome!) explained to us that authentic Thai food encompasses four flavors: sour, sweet, creamy and salty. Plus a little heat, of course.
This soup does a magnificent job allowing all of those to shine through. The lemon grass and lime lends the sour; the coconut milk offers a light creamy texture with a hint of sweetness; and the tamari gives it a savory saltiness. The whole combination makes for one seriously delicious soup.
Tom Kaa Gai is typically made with galangal root but I was unable to find it here in the states so I chose to omit that from the recipe. I also left out adding coconut sugar because I find it to be sweet enough on it’s own but feel free to add a teaspoon if you desire a sweeter flavor.
Also, if you can’t find bird’s eye chilis or kaffir lime leaves (I found them at my local Asian market), you can substitute jalapeños and add a little more lime juice. I prefer to use 3 chilis for medium heat but feel free to adjust that to your liking!
Yield: 4 bowls
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
2 stalks lemongrass, sliced in 1-inch long pieces
1 cup shiitake mushrooms, sliced
1 cup diced shallot (approx. 4 shallots)
4 kaffir lime leaves**
1/2 cup water
3 bird’s eye chilis, sliced*
2 medium tomatoes, sliced
8 ounces tofu, pressed and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 (13.5 ounce) can coconut milk
4 tablespoons reduced-sodium tamari
juice of 2 limes and fresh and cilantro for serving
In a large pot, combine the lemongrass, mushrooms, shallot, kaffir lime leaves and water then bring to a boil. Add the chilis, tomato, tofu and coconut milk. Season with tamari and a large pinch of salt, stir together, then allow to cook for about 5 minutes.
Remove the pot from the head then stir in the lime juice. Taste test to see if you prefer more salt and add as needed. It should taste creamy, salty and a little sour. Serve warm with fresh cilantro and enjoy!
*Three bird’s eye chilies gives this soup a mild-to-medium heat. If you are sensitive to spicy foods you might want to try starting with one and going from there to see how you like it. You can also substitute jalapeño or serrano peppers if you can’t find Thai chilies.
**Substitute with extra lime juice if you are unable to find kaffir lime leaves. The flavor won’t be as authentic but it will still taste good.
Did you try this recipe? Please let me know how it turned out by rating the recipe, leaving a comment below or sharing a picture on Instagram with the hashtag #makingthymeforhealth. I love hearing your feedback!