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Simple Vegetarian Tom Kha Soup

I’ve always been a fan of coconut. Growing up in India I used to relish slurping coconut water from a young coconut sliced open in font of me by a machete yielding vendor. After sucking out every last refreshing drop, I’d hand the coconut back so he could masterfully chop up the shell and scrape out the slippery young coconut flesh. This is called “malai” because it’s as tender and thin as the skin formed on top of pipping hot milk as it cools. I love coconut malai.

This love for coconut didn’t stop with fresh coconut. My grandmother will proudly tell you how I lick my fingers after eating her coconut burfi, an Indian sweet that basically consists of coconut, cardamom and a sweetener. In fact, even as a younger child in America, I loved Mounds – NOT Almond Joy because the almond just got in the way of the soft ecstasy that coconut brings.

So, it’s no wonder that I love Thai food. There is coconut hidden generally behind every bite. They even put coconut milk in rice. Which incidentally is the best way I’ve ever eaten rice.

This recipe for Tom Kha soup has become a regular visitor to my dining table because it really features the coconut milk front and center. Even though you are adding vegetables and broth and spices – make no mistake – this entire soup is really just an elaborated way to consume coconut.

I’ve made this recipe many different ways. The key ingredients to always use are fresh lemongrass and coconut milk. After that it really is a hodgepodge of whatever vegetables I find in my fridge. It always, always turns out beautiful.


Vegetarian Tom Kha Soup

Makes: 4 – 6 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Ready in: 35 minutes


  • 4 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 fresh lemongrass stalk
  • 1 handful of button mushrooms (about 6)
  • 1 carrot (optional)
  • 2 dried red chili peppers
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 handful of cherry tomatoes
  • 1/2 bell pepper
  • 2 small stalks of chinese broccoli (optional)
  • 8 ounces extra firm tofu
  • 1 can coconut milk (14 fl ounces)
  • 2 tablespoon soy sauce
  • Salt to taste (I used about 1 teaspoon)
  • coriander for garnishing
  • squeeze of lime (optional)
  • chili sauce (optional)


Tom Khaa Soup Instruction 11. Start heating the stock in a medium pot over medium-high heat. Peel a few layers of the lemongrass till you reach the tender pale yellow part. Chop the bottom 2/3rds of the stalk. You want to stop at the woody part. Add the woody part to the stock.

Tom Khaa Soup Instruction 22. Mince the chopped lemongrass using a mixer. Add to the stock and boil for about 5 minutes.

Tom Khaa Soup Instruction 33. Slice the mushrooms and the carrot. Mince the garlic or use a garlic press. Add the mushroom, carrots, garlic and dried red chilis to the stock. Boil for another 5 minutes.

Tom Khaa Soup Instruction 44. Slice the bell pepper. Chop the broccoli and tofu. Add bell pepper, broccoli, tofu and cherry tomatoes to the stock. Simmer for another 5 minutes.

Tom Khaa Soup Instruction 55. Turn the heat to low. Add the coconut milk and soy sauce. Taste the soup and add lime, salt and/or chili sauce based on your preference. Serve hot garnished with coriander. Yum!

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11 Responses to Simple Vegetarian Tom Kha Soup

  1. Kalinda says:

    I love Tom kha! This will be perfect with the coming cooler weather.

  2. Jaime says:

    Wow, what a great recipe!! It looks like the colours of autumn and warmth. I am new to your blog after meeting you through Food Bloggers Network, and looking forward to reading more posts 😀

    • Raj says:

      Thanks for stopping by Jamie. Love your blog too! I’m going to have to figure out how to translate many of your beautiful recipes into gluten free and sugar free ones for my family. See you on FB and off-facebook on the blogs! 😀

  3. Pingback: Vegetarian, Gluten-Free Roundup: Some Veggies, Some Chocolate

  4. Caroline says:

    So excited to try! I love the soup like this at my local Thai restaurant….thanks!

  5. Erin says:

    This was super yum!! The red chili sauce was just what it needed, loved it!

  6. Rashi Lal says:

    I have been looking for a simple vegetarian tom kha recipe that could be made in an Indian kitchen. after two days of searching, i found yours the best. Thank you. i hope my tom kha turns out as yum as yours. the website is indeed wonderful.

  7. Rita says:

    You’re calling your soup “Tom Kha,” but you’ve left out the very ingredient that gives it its name!! “Kha” is the Thai word for galangal (looks like white ginger root), and the soup is simply not complete without it! And no, you can’t substitute fresh ginger for galangal. Sorry ladies, try again . . . . or give your soup a different name.

  8. Shauntel Cooley says:

    Love love love this idea. I will be following your explorations. So glad to see other vegetarians in the world sharing deliciousness! Thank you!

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