This creamy Vegan Tom Kha Soup is a veggie packed Thai Coconut Soup with incredible flavours of lemongrass, ginger, garlic, and chili. Super easy to make and perfect for those colder days when all you want is a hot bowl of soup to curl up with. Each spoonful creates a party of spices in your mouth, while being soothing with creamy coconut at the same time.
Why You Want to Make This
The Vegan Version of Thai Coconut Soup
Not sure about you, but I always despised the typical chicken soup that was given to me when I had a cold. I felt it was plain, boring and did nothing to make me feel better. Quite the opposite.
Until I stumbled upon Tom Kha Soup. Or rather, back in time, Thai Coconut curry soup with chicken.
Though the chicken never felt quite right in it. I mean sure, I made a portion of it here too, for the meat eaters in my life, but the tofu captures the flavours and gentle bite so much better!
Fantastic for Fighting Colds
In general, the sodium in soups helps to sooth your sore throat, similar to gargling with salt water. The steam opens your nasal passages, helping you breathe.
Easy to Make
Despite the fairly long ingredient list, this soup comes together in less than 1h, chopping included.
You could even use ready chopped garlic and grated ginger from jars, as I often do. The main seasoning comes in form of Thai Red Curry Paste, which most supermarkets offer these days.
If, like me, you have meat eaters in your life, you can prepare one big pot of the base with the vegetables, then split in two and add chicken or even prawns to one half and Tofu to the other. Which is exactly what I did here, hence the chicken in the ingredient picture.
You can also vary the vegetables to your taste. I love using a large variety, as it covers my 5-a-day in one easy meal, but just throw in what you have in your fridge and enjoy.
Thai Red Chili Paste – This is the basic flavour which makes this (together with Coconut milk) into the typical Tom Kha Soup. The great thing is, you can use it in lots of other Thai dishes too, like the stir fry version of this dish for example. Just use less liquid and more solids and bind with cornflour into a creamy sauce. Serve over rice and you have a great dinner.
The Chili paste keeps for ages in the fridge. Some come in a container with about a cup of the paste. Usually you need about 1 tbsp per large pot. Be careful with adding more, it gets very hot very fast. You can always add more towards the end if you like yours very spicy. I prefer my Coconut Thai Curry on the milder side, but you do you.
Coconut Milk – The other base ingredient for this soup is Coconut Milk. While there are 2 cans in the picture, I did add 3, as I found it a bit too spicy for my taste. The chili levels of the red curry pastes vary a little, so even though I’ve made this countless times over the years, I often have to adjust based on the brand I got.
I’m using both reduced fat and full fat coconut milk here. Both work fine. I would add at least one can full fat though, to achieve the perfect creaminess.
Miso Paste – To make this vegan, I swapped in white miso paste instead of the more typical fish sauce and loved the flavour of it. You could use vegan fish sauce if you prefer.
Tamari or Soy sauce – While I have both Tamaro and Soy sauce at home, I find myself reaching for the Tamari more often, as I feel it adds more complexity than the often extremely salty soy sauce. Use whatever you have on hand. Coconut Aminos work nicely too.
Rice Vinegar – I always have Rice vinegar around, but if you don’t replace with apple cider vinegar or white wine vinegar. The important part is to add acidity for balance.
Rice Wine or Mirin – This adds sweetness for the perfect balance between sweet, sour, hot and creamy.
Maple Syrup or Honey – I’m using Maple Syrup here. Not particularly traditional, but I love the complexity it brings to this soup. Adjust to your taste. I quite like a bit of sweetness to come through, reminding me of the absolutely amazing Tom Kha Chicken I had in a takeaway in Germany. We used to take the tram in Hanover for about 30 minutes just to get to this very particular place, which made the best Thai Food I ever had.
Lime Juice – A different source of acidity, tying in with the lemongrass and vinegar, creating layers of flavour. You could use lemon juice, but lime feels more authentic here.
Lemongrass – I always have a few stalks frozen for an emergency pot of this soup. Most supermarkets offer it these days in the veggie and herb section. It adds a lovely lemony scent, typical for Thai dishes. If you can’t find it, add some lime zest instead.
Dried Shiitake Mushrooms – These add depth to the broth very similar to the effect of porcini mushrooms (which you could use as replacement). If you have neither, leave them out or use some simple fresh sliced mushrooms, to add some more umami to your soup.
Garlic, ginger and spring onions – The flavour base for each Thai Curry. I used fresh here, but more often than not I use ready chopped garlic and grated ginger from a jar. They work just as well. The spring onions are used both for the base, being fried with the garlic and ginger and the green parts sprinkled over for freshness and crunch at the end.
Broth – While bone broth would be traditional here, I’m using a good vegetable broth. Sometimes homemade, sometimes the instant version.
Protein – My favourite protein for this soup yet is tofu. Where I find it often a little boring in stir fries, it soaks up all the flavourful broth here and has just the right texture to be comforting.
You could also use chicken pieces or even prawn. Just adjust the cook times accordingly.
Specific to the tofu: I press it in a tofu press for a few hours before cutting into cubes, to get rid of some of its inherent moisture, which gets then replaced with the flavourful broth when you add it.
Vegetables – You can use pretty much anything you have in the fridge. This is a great soup to use up odds and ends!
I particularly like carrots, zucchinis (courgette), mini sweetcorn, a can of sliced bamboo shoots and water chestnuts for their irresistible crunch. Pak Choy adds lovely greens and crunch from the stalks.
Others I used before and liked are mushrooms, red or white cabbage and spinach.
Cilantro – I love to add fresh herbs at the end, for that bright green touch and the added flavour. If you have the unfortunate “Cilantro tastes like soap” gene, feel free to use either parsley or even basil to sprinkle over.
I’d love to hear from you in the comments, if you come up with other delicious combinations.
Now despite the seemingly endless list of ingredients, this is really quick.
In your largest pot, add a bit of groundnut or olive oil. On medium heat, gently fry garlic, ginger, spring onions and chili paste until fragrant and softened.
Add stock, coconut milk, lemongrass, mushrooms with their liquid, miso, tamari, vinegar, rice wine or mirin, maple syrup and lime juice. Let everything come to a boil and have a taste. Add more seasoning, depending on your taste. It should have a nice balance between sweet, sour, salty and hot.
Once you are happy with the flavour, you can start adding the vegetables.
I usually add cubed tofu, carrots, sweetcorn, bamboo shoots, water chestnuts and the firmer stalks of the pak choi first, let them soften and heat up a bit, before adding the zucchini and soft green pak choi leaves, to just wilt.
Serve in bowls with chopped herbs and the green parts of the spring onions on top, maybe some fresh lime wedges to squeeze over. Enjoy the heat spreading through your body and the flavours of Thailand transporting you into warmer regions.
I often make a large pot of the Vegan Tom Kha Soup and only add the tofu and more crunchy veggies like carrots, before storing everything in the fridge, the remaining vegetables in separate containers. When I’m ready to eat, I just heat through the soup and add a few handfuls of the fresh vegetables, so it tastes like freshly made every day.
The soup keeps for about 4 days in the fridge.
To freeze, make just the soup without the vegetables and add fresh veggies whenever you like a bowl of it.
If you’d like some carbs with it, you could add cooked rice or noodles. I find it satisfying enough with the tofu and veggies, so I usually leave the carbs out.
Looking for a different type of Vegetable soup? Try my Vegetable Stew with Dumplings.
Or maybe a chocolate dessert, to balance the lightness? My Protein Chocolate Mousse Pie gives you more protein, still fairly low calories, but tastes utterly decadent.
Now I’d love to hear from you in the comments!
Have you tried this? Did you enjoy it?
What other recipes would you like to see?
If you enjoyed this recipe, please share and comment. It helps me a lot.
Vegan Tom Kha Soup
- 1/4 cup minced ginger
- 8 cloves garlic minced
- 1 bunch spring onions sliced. Green parts put aside for topping. White used as base.
- 1 tbsp Thai red curry paste
- 32 ounces vegetable stock 1L
- 3 cans 13.5-ounce, coconut milk I used one low fat, two full fat
- 2 stalks lemongrass sliced in large pieces, so you can fish them out later
- ¼ cup dried shiitake mushrooms soaked in hot water for 15min
- ¼ cup miso paste white (Or optional fish sauce for non-vegans)
- 2 tbsp tamari
- 2 tbsp rice vinegar
- ¼ cup rice wine
- 2 tbsp honey or maple syrup
- 3 limes juiced to get about ¼ cup
- 1 pack firm tofu pressed and cubed
- 2 courgettes halved or quartered and sliced into bite sized pieces
- 2 packs mini sweetcorn chopped
- 2 pak choi ends removed, sliced into bite sized pieces
- 1 can bamboo shoots sliced
- 1 can water chestnuts sliced
- 3 carrots sliced
- 1 bunch fresh cilantro leaves chopped
- 2 tbsp Groundnut or olive oil for frying
- In your largest pot, heat a bit of groundnut or olive oil over medium heat. Add minced garlic, ginger, sliced white parts of spring onions, and Thai red curry paste. Fry gently until fragrant and softened.
- Add vegetable stock, coconut milk, lemongrass, soaked shiitake mushrooms with their liquid, miso paste, tamari, rice vinegar, rice wine, honey or maple syrup, and lime juice. Allow the mixture to come to a boil. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed to achieve a balance between sweet, sour, salty, and hot flavours.
- Once you are satisfied with the flavour, start adding the vegetables. Add cubed tofu, sliced carrots, chopped sweetcorn, bamboo shoots, water chestnuts, and the firmer stalks of pak choi. Allow them to soften and heat up.
- Finally, add the zucchini and the soft green pak choi leaves, letting them wilt slightly.
- Serve the Vegan Tom Kha Soup in bowls, topping each serving with chopped fresh cilantro leaves and the green parts of the spring onions. Optionally, provide fresh lime wedges on the side for squeezing over the soup.
- Enjoy the heat and flavours of Thailand transporting you into warmer regions!
Protein: Around 10g
Carbohydrates: Roughly 30g
Fat: About 25g
Fiber: Around 6g
Sugar: Approximately 10g