Thai Chicken Soup with Coconut Milk and Lemongrass

A more-or-less traditional dish that has been on the Vong menu since its opening, this Thai chicken soup with coconut milk and lemongrass 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 broth┬ácan 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 Stock For Thai Chicken Soup Note

When Jean-Georges Vongerichten wrote this Thai-minded recipe, he specified Rich Chicken Stock as an ingredient, which you’ll see in the recipe below. It’s not a particular type of stock made in Thailand, per se. It’s simply how Jean-Georges refers to his basic chicken stock recipe that’s made rich with leeks and thyme and…well, heck, we’ll just give you the recipe. Stud 1 medium onion with 6 whole cloves and then toss 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.┬áSorta surprising it isn’t more Asian in nature, although as you’ll taste from the resulting soup, it doesn’t need to be.

Thai Chicken Soup with Coconut Milk and Lemongrass 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 (see note above), 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.

The Fatty Daddy Challenge Variation

  • This is David here, and I want to share with you my tweaks to this Thai chicken soup recipe in case, like me, you’re looking to save calories wherever you can. I call it The Fatty Daddy Challenge version of this recipe, and in it I use non-fat chicken stock in place of the rich chicken stock and shrimp in place of chicken. You’ll be coming in at just 9 Weight Watchers PointsPlus. Which is awesome in my book. (I made a few other adjustments to the recipe, which I explain in the David Says below, and I gotta say, it was phenomenal.)
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