Keto chicken coconut soup takes the ultimate comfort food and makes it tastier, healthier, and possibly even creamier. Chicken thighs, coconut milk, lemongrass, ginger, lime, and fish sauce–loads of superb Asian ingredients in one low-carb bowl.
This keto chicken coconut soup is one of the easiest and most flavorful soups I make. It’s light yet creamy, sweet yet tart, salty, citrusy and bursting with layers of fantastic flavor. Naturally gluten-free, you can make it vegetarian or even vegan, too. The rich, complex broth is made with coconut milk, lemongrass, ginger or galangal, garlic, chiles, lime juice, fish sauce, and cilantro along with tender chicken and mushrooms. It can be served as a main course or appetizer, and it reheats really beautifully.–Urvashi Pitre
☞ Table of Contents
WHAT IS TOM KHA GAI SOUP?
This gorgeous soup from Urvashi Pitre might be called keto chicken coconut soup but it is, at its heart, the classic Thai soup tom kha gai (translated as galangal and chicken soup). The addition of coconut milk makes it creamy, in contrast to a lot of other soups, whether Thai or dairy-free.
This recipe calls for ginger, rather than galangal, but if you can get your hands on galangal, then by all means use it, or a combination of both. As well, kaffir limes are traditional but harder to find. Ginger and lime are readily available while galangal and kaffir limes are more traditional, but can be elusive. Just do what you need to do to get this on the table.
Keto Chicken Coconut Soup
- 3 cups store-bought or homemade low-sodium chicken broth
- 1 pound boneless skinless chicken thighs cut into bite-size pieces
- 6 to 8 thin slices fresh ginger
- 2 whole red Thai chiles
- 1 cup (12 oz) canned straw mushrooms drained
- 2 tablespoons fish sauce
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh lemongrass
- 1 teaspoon palm or coconut sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- One (14-ounce) can coconut milk preferably full-fat
- Zest of 1 lime preferably organic
- 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
- Lime wedges for serving
- In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, combine broth, chicken, ginger, chiles, mushrooms, fish sauce, lemongrass, sugar, and salt and bring to a boil.
- Reduce heat to medium and stir in coconut milk. Gently simmer until chicken is cooked through, 15 to 20 minutes.
- Stir in zest and lime juice. Garnish each serving with fresh cilantro and serve with lime wedges.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
This keto chicken coconut soup is a lightly flavored and delicious soup, perfect for a weeknight meal or light lunch. The broth is well balanced in flavor, with the lemongrass and lime giving a subtle citrus note. I have to admit that I went back to the pot a few times, for just another small taste after I finished my bowl!
When I make it the next time, I will serve it with rice. My daughter loved it and suggested that it needed something a bit more substantive for the main course in a meal. Rice or noodles would be a good choice.
I followed the recipe exactly except for using fresh baby portabella mushrooms in place of the canned straw mushrooms it called for. I couldn’t find those at my local market.
This keto chicken coconut soup was a delicious and easy soup. A great way to warm up in the cold (although I’d make this in any season). The broth wasn’t overly heavy, the flavor was great and even my kids liked it. I thought the lime and coconut were well balanced with the fish sauce.
The chiles gave it a little heat but not much at all. I left them whole because I didn’t see any directions to cut them. If they were cut they probably would have overwhelmed the balance.
This is a good soup, easy to throw together, and on the table in about 35 minutes. We followed the timing in the recipe, which worked as written, and which yielded five generous servings. We served the soup over rice. We substituted one serrano chile (seeds and veins removed) for the Thai chile, fresh bunapi mushrooms (which worked perfectly), and one tablespoon of fresh lemon juice for the lemongrass. We used full-fat coconut milk.
On the first day, the keto chicken coconut soup was respectable and tasty, but it didn’t taste to us like the Tom Kha Gai we are familiar with. We suspected that on day two the flavors would have had a chance to meld. Indeed, they did, and the soup was absolutely delicious on day two.
We will make this again and again with chicken or tofu–we know now that serrano chiles are an option (though be careful about those chile oils – they burn if you touch your face). We know we can play around with the mushrooms, too.
We may invest in a lemongrass plant, though, because that was the one substitution that didn’t quite work. We missed the real lemongrass flavor.
I want to publicly apologize to my favorite, local Thai restaurant. I will no longer be coming to you for my Tom Kha Gai. Due to the fact that every other item on your menu is delicious and so far, impossible for me to replicate at home, we’ll see you next week.
This keto chicken coconut soup was authentic and fantastic. The velvety coconut milk felt like a cheat day. I loved the meaty straw mushrooms, they nearly eliminated the need for the chicken. In fact, you could easily make this dish vegan but omitting the chicken, replacing fish sauce with soy sauce or coconut aminos, and using vegetable stock for the base of the soup.
The flavors blended beautifully, with the fragrant lemongrass, hot chiles, sweet palm sugar, and fresh cilantro and lime. This craveable bowl of Thai greatness will surely become a weekly staple in our kitchen.
This keto chicken coconut soup is delicious, quick, and impressive. I will definitely be making it again. I order Tom Kha Gai soup every time I eat at a Thai place, but I hadn’t made it myself.
Unlike most soups, this comes together in a flash, but it’s still a comforting and filling meal. Our market didn’t have canned straw mushrooms (surprising) so I went with fresh shimeji, as they are almost as adorable. I think it would also be fine with quartered button mushrooms. In the end, I was happy with the fresh mushrooms, because this soup was a bit heavy, and having more fresh items in it seemed better. To serve, I added 1/8 cup more lime juice and a bit more heat to offset the heaviness.
This keto version of Tom Kha Gai knocks it out of the park with bold and bright flavors! I would dial back on the fish sauce just a touch but otherwise delicious!
The flavor was great and I didn’t need to add any extra lime juice. I’d only change two things. I would use a touch less fish sauce, perhaps 1 1/2 tablespoons instead of a full 2. The soup wasn’t “fish saucey” but the flavor was a little too pronounced. I’d also cut the appropriate length of lemongrass and then split and bruise it instead of trying to finely mince it. All of the finely chopped lemongrass sunk to the bottom of the soup and was too tough to be pleasant to eat. Flavored everything wonderfully though! I’ll definitely be saving this recipe.
What a lovely fragrant broth, comforting and exotic at the same time. As written, a rich first course; as I enjoyed it, over rice noodles, a lovely one-bowl meal.
This keto chicken coconut soup is a brothy soup with bites of chicken and mushroom and an intoxicating aroma. I’m sure it would be a spectacular first course for an elaborate dinner prepared for company. But if it’s Tuesday, and you want soup for dinner, soak your rice noodles as you begin prep–they’ll be ready as you finish. Either way, this is a special treat.
Originally published September 17, 2021