Khao tom gai, a very simple Thai chicken and rice soup, is not that different than a typical chicken soup your grandmother would make. In fact, I’d go as far to say that your grandparents might actually like this recipe! That is if you could get them to try it. I don’t know about you but my grandparents wouldn’t have tried Thai food in a million years. Seriously, I couldn’t have paid them to try Thai food. They were of Italian descent and rarely ventured away from Italian food.
But this recipe is not what you’d typically associate with Thai cuisine. It’s a great example of many Thai soups which are very simple and utilize only a handful of ingredients. These soups never appear in western Thai restaurants because they just wouldn’t sell very well. People go to Thai restaurants for the colorful curries and all the exotic flavors. But not all Thai food is like that. That’s one of the reasons I wrote my book, The Thai Soup Secret. I wanted to showcase the simpler side of Thai cuisine, a side that can easily be recreated at home!
And don’t let the chiles in the picture below fool you. They’re optional and more often than not this is a very plain soup (albeit still flavorful) served without chiles.
Though it resembles a congee, the rice here is not cooked into a porridge, and that’s why khao tom gai is one of my go-to recipes when I come home and don’t have anything planned for dinner. Within 20 minutes I can have this ready from start to finish.
Beyond its simplicity, there are several more reasons I love making khao tom gai. The first is the lemongrass and galangal-infused broth. This gives the broth a wonderfully fragrant, earthy, citrus flavor that is so characteristic of Thai cuisine.
Next, you can make khao tom gai as basic or complex as you want. If you’re battling a cold or digestive issue, make it more broth-based and keep the seasonings to a minimum. If you want something more hearty, add more chicken and rice and go crazy with the seasonings. In particular, fried onions and garlic are my favorite additions as they add that wonderful crunch and smoky flavor that can make any plain soup really come alive.
Finally, if you would like to learn more simple, healthy Thai soups, just like khao tom gai, check out my new book, The Thai Soup Secret!
It includes 40 gluten and dairy-free recipes for broth-based Thai soups. My purpose was to expose Thai soups to a wider audience. In my travels in Thailand, I found there were tons of simple soups that are relatively unknown outside Thailand. Like this recipe for khao tom gai.
Khao tom gai is a very simple Thai chicken and rice soup. From start to finish it can be whipped up in about a half hour!
Craig Fear is the creator of Fearless Eating and the author of three books, The 30-Day Heartburn Solution, Fearless Broths and Soups and The Thai Soup Secret. After years helping clients with digestive issues, Craig decided to pursue writing full-time. He intends to write many more books on broths and soups from around the world! Click here to learn more about Craig.