Tom Ka Gai

From Julie an Rosendaal

2013 Jan/Feb

A bowl of Thai coconut soup makes an easy, warming meal when it’s cold outside. Although it’s creamy and noodley, it’s also free of wheat and dairy. This is a great way to use up leftover roasted chicken or turkey, as well as the stock you made with the bones. Adapted from a recipe in Self magazine.


  • 4 oz. thin rice or bean vermicelli noodles (or enough for 4)
  • 4 c. chicken or turkey stock
  • 1–2 red Thai or jalapeño chiles, seeded and sliced into rings
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 T. grated fresh ginger
  • 1-inch piece fresh lemongrass – pale part only – cut in half lengthwise
  • 2 t. grated lemon zest
  • 1/4 c. fresh lemon or lime juice
  • 3 T. Thai fish sauce
  • 2 c. sliced fresh mushrooms (I use oyster mushrooms)
  • 1-2 c. chopped or sliced roasted turkey, or 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into strips
  • 1 14 oz (398 mL) can coconut milk
  • salt to taste
  • 1-2 c. baby spinach
  • 1/4 c. chopped fresh cilantro and/or Thai basil, for garnish


Soak the noodles in warm water until they’re soft, according to the package directions. Meanwhile, heat the stock and add the chiles, garlic, ginger, lemongrass, lemon zest and juice, and fish sauce, and bring the soup to a simmer. Drain the noodles, then add them and the mushrooms and cook the soup for a few minutes, until the noodles are tender. Remove the noodles from the stock with tongs, and divvy them among 4 shallow bowls.

Add the turkey or chicken and coconut milk and bring the soup to a simmer (if you’re using raw chicken, simmer for 3 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through.) Season with salt. Add the spinach and cook just until it wilts. If you like, fish out the chile slices and/or lemongrass. Stir in some of the cilantro and/or basil, saving the rest for garnish. Ladle the soup over the noodles and serve hot.
Serves 4.