Chicken Soup with Coconut Milk and Lemongrass

Chicken Soup with Coconut Milk Recipe

A more-or-less traditional Thai dish that has been on the Vong menu since its opening, this soup combines bright flavors and a lovely combination of colors. The soup is pale yellow with brown shiitake, white chicken, and bright green cilantro peeking through the broth. The base can be prepared in advance and, in fact, tastes better when it’s done a day ahead. To turn this starter into a main course, increase the amount of chicken to a pound or more, and serve with white rice, which can be eaten on the side or spooned into the soup.–Jean-Georges Vongerichten and Mark Bittman

LC Rich Chicken Stock Note

When Jean-Georges Vongerichten wrote this Thai-minded recipe, he specified Rich Chicken Stock as an ingredient. This isn’t a particular type of stock, per se, it’s simply how Jean-Georges refers to his basic chicken stock that’s rife with leeks and thyme and…well, heck, we’ll just give you the recipe. He studs 1 medium onion with 6 cloves and then tosses it in a stockpot along with 3 garlic cloves, 2 pounds chicken wings, 1 carrot, 1 bay leaf, 1 celery stalk, 3 or 4 sprigs fresh thyme, 1 very well rinsed leek, and 10 cups cold water. Bring it to a boil and then immediately reduce the heat to a gentle simmer, skimming any froth or scum that appears on the surface. Cook for a total of 1 1/2 hours. Let cool slightly and then strain. Sorta surprising it isn’t more Asian in nature, although as you’ll taste from the resulting soup, it doesn’t need to be.

Chicken Soup with Coconut Milk Recipe

  • Quick Glance
  • 30 M
  • 45 M
  • Makes 4 servings


  • 1 stalk lemongrass
  • 1 tablespoon canola, grapeseed, or other neutral-flavored oil
  • 1 medium onion, minced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons Thai red curry paste or curry powder
  • Six 1/8-inch-thick slices galangal or ginger, not peeled
  • 3 lime leaves, dried or fresh
  • 4 cups rich chicken stock, homemade chicken stock or canned chicken broth
  • 12 ounces boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • 2 cups shiitake mushrooms
  • One 13- to 14-ounce can unsweetened coconut milk
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • 2 tablespoons nam pla or nuoc mam (Asian fish sauce)
  • 3 scallions, trimmed and minced on the diagonal
  • 1/4 cup minced cilantro


  • 1. Trim the lemongrass of its outer sheath and its hard ends. Whack the stalk in a few places with the back of a knife, then cut it into 2 or 3 pieces.
  • 2. In a deep skillet or medium saucepan, combine the oil, onion, and garlic and turn the heat to medium. Cook a minute, stirring, then add the lemongrass, curry paste, galangal or ginger, and lime leaves. Cook, stirring, for 3 or 4 minutes, then add the stock. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium, and cook at a moderate boil for about 15 minutes. (You may prepare the recipe in advance up to this point; refrigerate in a covered container for up to 2 days.)
  • 3. While the broth cooks, cut the chicken breast into 1/2- to 3/4-inch cubes. Remove the stems from the shiitakes and discard or reserve for stock; cut the caps into quarters or eighths.
  • 4. Add the coconut milk, then the chicken and the mushrooms to the broth. Cook for about 5 minutes, or until the chicken is done.
  • 5. Stir in the lime juice and nam pla; taste and adjust the seasoning. Divide among 4 bowls, then garnish with the scallions and cilantro and serve. You may remove the galangal and lemongrass before serving, or leave them in; they are delicious to gnaw on at the table.
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Testers Choice

Testers Choice
Testers Choice
Sofia Reino

Sep 17, 1998

An easy enough soup to make that does not take much time, yet is full of flavor. I had to omit the lime leaves as I was not able to find them anywhere around here. The final taste is very delicate, refreshing, and extremely tasty. My toddler absolutely devoured it. I’d added a little white rice that we had leftover and it was perfect for the four of us as a main meal. Everyone asked me to make it again in the near future.

  1. Tina S. says:

    I loved it! The first batch I made I omitted the chicken breast and curry (since I didn’t have either on hand) but doubled the mushrooms. I used baby shiitakis with the stems on and they were delicious!! Today I made a double batch but this time I added curry powder (I made my own omitting the cayenne pepper because I don’t tolerate spicy) and added some cabbage. It all came together so beautifully. Half of this batch will go into the freezer to be pulled out later when I’m craving it. Next time I’ll probably double the amount of mushrooms and cabbage I used today because I really love a vegetable-dense soup. Thank you for your recipe. It’s definitely going in the permanent-recipe file :)

    • Renee Schettler Rossi, LC Editor-in-Chief says:

      You’re quite welcome, Tina S. Quite ingenuitive, your tweaks…

  2. Anne says:

    I love this soup. It is so healthy and yummy, and not hard to make. I’ve made it thousands of times by now. I’m wondering, how long should it be good in the refrigerator for leftovers?

    • Renee Schettler Rossi says:

      Anne, so glad you like this as much as we do! As for how long to keep it in the fridge, I tend to err on the side of keeping leftovers for as little time as possible, not just from a food safety perspective but also from a food quality standpoint. I would say two days at most, though I’m certain some would keep it longer. And when you reheat it, be certain to bring it to a bare simmer and heat it through and through.

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