Tom Kha Gai {Thai Chicken Galangal Soup} - a shortcut version

Tom Kha Gai (Thai Chicken Galangal Soup) recipe by

I’m sure we’re all playing the same game right now – Catch Up.  Staying up past our usual bedtime to catch up on baking cookies for an event or party the following day.  Staying late at work during the week or coming in on Saturday to catch up on tasks because we spent a few too many hours at the office shopping for Christmas gifts online, or because the daily commute took twice as long from all the ice and snow. 

We all play catch up during the holiday season for reasons we can, and many times, can’t control. 

For us, the latter has much to do with Minnesota winters.  No explanation needed.  But playing catch up for the reasons we can control, we have you, our ever hungry customers, to give us a few friendly nudges to remind us we need to keep up with our new products. 

Last month, in the middle of the holiday season, we launched our Basic Thai Spice Kit – a three jar set of Lemongrass Powder, Kaffir Lime Leaf Powder, and Galangal Powder – for you to create the base flavor for many Thai dishes.  After Facebook messages, emails, and even a couple of phone calls about how to specifically use the kit, we went into catch up mode.

Late to the table, but still hot & delicious, here is the first recipe using our Basic Thai Spice Kit – Tom Kha Gai (Thai Chicken Galangal Soup).

Tom Kha Gai (Thai Chicken Galangal Soup) recipe by

Tom Kha Gai, a Thai-style chicken soup cooked in creamy coconut milk and infused with Southeast Asian spices like lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, and galangal, has grown in popularity with the increased demand for Thai food. 

Two years ago, I shared a recipe on Season with Spice on how to make Tom Kha Gai from scratch with all fresh spices, but as we’re all running behind schedule right now, the idea of cooking up Thai food using all fresh ingredients probably sounds impossible. 

After feedback from many of you who have already purchased our Thai Spice Kit, you’re looking for a shortcut to cooking Thai dishes, without sacrificing too much on flavor.  And that’s why I decided to share a new, easier recipe for Tom Kha Gai, using the powdered versions of the three core spices of the dish.

Lemongrass powder, kaffir lime leaf powder, and galangal powder for making Thai recipes

When using lemongrass, kaffir lime leaf, and galangal powders, it may take a bit of experimenting and fine-tuning to get the flavors just right, but the extra time spent taste testing is well made up for in convenience.  Whenever I crave Thai and other Southeast Asian dishes, these three pure ground powders have come to my rescue countless times – when I’m missing one or all of the fresh spices in the kitchen, or when I’m in a rush and can’t be bothered to chop up fresh galangal or lemongrass, or drive 30 minutes to pick up some kaffir lime leaves. 

So with all the ice and snow outside right now, and all the catch up tasks that inevitably follow, let’s keep this Tom Kha Gai simple and approachable. 

Start with thin slices of chicken, fresh cloves of garlic, coconut milk, mushrooms, and a few more vegetables if you like.  Then pull out the spice kit to flavor the soup.  A boil, then a simmer, then one more time, and you’ll be wowed with the combination of flavors in this creamy coconut chicken soup.  Thai cooking made easy with the Basic Thai Spice Kit.

Tom Kha Gai (Thai Chicken Galangal Soup) recipe by

Tom Kha Gai (shortcut version) by Season with Spice
Serves 4

2 pieces chicken tenders/ chicken breasts – cut into thin slices
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
3-4 cloves garlic – crushed
1 cup unsweetened coconut milk
1 cup of straw, oyster or button mushrooms – halved if needed
1 tbsp fish sauce (nam pla), or pinches of salt to season (try our sweet ginger sea salt)
Season with Spice spices:
 · 1 tsp of light brown sugar
 · 2 tsp kaffir lime powder
 · 1 1/2 tsp galangal powder
 · 1 tbsp lemongrass powder
 · 1-2 dried Thai red chili peppers (or red chili pepper flakes)
A squeeze of lime juice
Fresh cilantro for garnish

Additional vegetables (optional):
Carrots, cauliflower, red onion, baby corn, snow peas, long beans/ green beans or edamame

1. In a soup pot, add in the broth, crushed garlic and chicken pieces. Over medium-high heat, bring to a gentle boil, then turn fire to low. Let simmer for about 3 minutes.
2. Add in coconut milk, mushrooms, and other veggies. Turn fire up to medium to bring back to a simmer, then turn fire low and let simmer for about 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add in sugar and fish sauce/salt. Then add in kaffir lime powder, galangal powder and lemongrass powder. For a spicy version, add in one or two dried red Thai chili peppers. Stir and bring to a gentle boil again over medium heat. Turn heat to low and let simmer for another 5-8 minutes until chicken is cooked.
3. Squeeze in lime juice, taste, and adjust seasonings (spice powders, fish sauce, sugar, lime juice). Ladle soup into your serving bowl and garnish with fresh cilantro. Serve with a bowl of white or brown rice.

1. What I like about using lemongrass powder and kaffir lime leaf powder is that they add an appetizing color to the usual bland white look of the soup. So even if you are cooking from scratch from our original recipe of Tom Kha Gai, by using fresh lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves, it’s still fun to sprinkle in some of the powder for the added color.
2. For a vegetarian version, I like to use cauliflower, silken tofu or seitan, and then throw in a few other vegetables that I have on hand.