Thai Coconut Soup

Jump to Recipe Print Recipe

This Thai coconut soup is rich, satisfying, and full of flavor! Made with a creamy spiced coconut milk base, crispy pan-fried tofu, tender veggies, and topped with fresh herbs, this soup tastes like it came from a restaurant, but is surprisingly easy to whip up in your own kitchen.

Have you ever tried to recreate a Thai dish you had at a restaurant and been super disappointed? I know I have! Thai coconut soup was one of those dishes. I tried so many recipes but could never get anything close to as good as restaurant quality.

Finally I discovered the problem: the ingredients.

Thai Coconut Soup Ingredients

Most of the recipes I’d been trying called for ingredients that were accessible, but not necessarily authentic. My recipe calls for ingredients that might not be super familiar to you, but they add so much flavor!


Lemongrass is a grass with a mild, citrusy flavor. You should be able to find it in the produce section of your regular supermarket! If not, try an Asian market. If all else fails, buy jarred lemongrass online.


This is a root that’s related to the ginger you’re probably familiar with. It’s sometimes referred to as Thai ginger. Galangal is a bit firmer than regular ginger, and I find the flavor to be a big more pungent.

You might luck out and find Thai ginger at the supermarket (I did! Wegmans often has it.). Otherwise, try an Asian market. If you find some galangal when you’re not quite ready to use it, fear not! Just buy it, stick it in a sealed bag and freeze it for later.

You can substitute regular ginger if absolutely needed.

Makrut Lime Leaves

Makrut limes are a variety of lime with a flavor that’s a tad stronger than what you’re used to. I find the leaves to add an almost floral flavor to dishes like this.

You might be able to find fresh makrut lime leaves at an Asian market, but I find this a rarity, at least where I live. Fortunately, they’re available in dried form online.

Sambal Oelek

This is an Indonesian chili paste that’s available at most supermarkets these days. If you can’t find it, try an Asian market. You could also get away with substituting sriracha if that’s easier for you.

That’s it for the ingredients that I consider to be somewhat challenging to find. In addition, you’ll need some oil, shallots, garlic, coconut milk, lime juice, tofu, veggies and fresh cilantro.

How to Make Thai Coconut Soup

Prep Your Ingredients

Be sure to read this section if some of the ingredients in this coconut soup are new to you!


Lemongrass is pretty tough stuff, and if you don’t prepare it properly it can end up as a bunch of hard, chewy bits in your soup. Nobody wants that!

To prep your lemongrass, grab a stalk and cut a slit down the length of it. The slit should penetrate almost to the center of the stalk. Now peel off the tough outer layer so you’re left with the slightly less tough inner core. Chop this part up as finely as you can. (Note that I’m prepping a very skinny stalk in the photo, shown next to a pretty fat stalk. A typical one would probably be sized somewhere between the two.)

When it’s time to add the lemongrass to your soup you can add it directly, or, if you didn’t get it chopped as finely as you’d like, try placing it into a tea infuser.

Makrut Lime Leaves

If you’re using dried makrut lime leaves, place them in a bowl or cup of hot water to soak about 20 minutes before you start cooking.


Ideally you’ll want to grate your galangal, just like you would with regular ginger. Galangal is a bit harder than regular ginger, making it a bit tougher to grate. Feel free to mince it finely with a knife if that’s easier for you.

Make the Soup

The tofu gets cooked separately from everything else, so you may want to start with that. I say may because you can also cook the tofu on a separate pan while the soup simmers (to save time!). The only reason I sometimes do it first is so that I can use the pot that the soup will simmer in (fewer dishes to wash!).

In any event, heat up some oil in the pot or a nonstick skillet. Add some cubed tofu and cook it for about 10 minutes. Flip the tofu a couple of times while it cooks. The goal is to get the pieces browned and crispy on multiple sides.

If you cooked the tofu in your soup pot, take it out and transfer it to a plate. Heat up some more oil in the pot and add your shallots. Let them soften up a bit, then add your garlic, galangal, and some finely chopped fresh cilantro. Cook everything for about a minute, until the mixture becomes very fragrant.

Now add those lime leaves and lemongrass, along with some broth, coconut milk, baby corn and shiitake mushrooms. Bring the liquid up to a boil and let it simmer until the veggies are tender.

Add some broccoli during the last five minutes of simmering, then take the pot off of the burner.

Stir in your tofu, some lime juice, and sambal oelek. Season the soup with salt and ladle it into bowls.

Top your soup with fresh cilantro, scallions and/or basil.

Thai Coconut Soup Tips & FAQ

  • Is this soup gluten-free? Yes it is!
  • Feel free to substitute your favorite veggies for those used in the recipe. Carrots, cauliflower, and spinach would all be great choices. Keep in mind that harder veggies generally take longer to cook, while softer veggies cook faster.
  • Is this soup spicy? Just a bit. If you prefer a milder version, leave out the sambal oelek. If you prefer a hotter version, add extra sambal oelek.
  • Need more guidance on how to get your tofu perfectly crispy? Check out this guide.
  • A note on ingredients and substitutions: Some of the ingredients in this soup may be tough for some folks to find. If you can get ahold of them, I highly recommend using them, but if you really, really can’t, try the following:
    • Galangal: Substitute an equal amount of fresh ginger.
    • Lemongrass: Most supermarkets carry lemongrass paste in tubes, usually found in the produce section. I’m not entirely sure how much you’d need, though I’m guessing a tablespoon or two. Try adding just a bit at at time until the flavor is right.
    • Makrut lime leaves: Substitute a tablespoon of lime zest.
    • Sambal oelek: substitute sriracha, or another neutral flavored hot sauce.

Like this recipe? If so, be sure to follow me on Facebook, Pinterest or Instagram, or subscribe to my newsletter. And please stop back and leave me a review and rating below if you make it!

5 from 4 votes Print

Thai Coconut Soup

This Thai coconut soup is rich, satisfying, and full of flavor! Made with a creamy spiced coconut milk base, crispy pan-fried tofu, tender veggies, and topped with fresh herbs, this soup tastes like it came from a restaurant, but is surprisingly easy to whip up in your own kitchen.

CourseSoup CuisineThai Prep Time 20 minutes Cook Time 30 minutes Total Time 50 minutes Servings 4 Calories 420 kcal Author Alissa Saenz


  • 5dried makrut lime leaves*(or fresh, if available)
  • 2(4 inch) stalkslemongrass**
  • 2tablespoonscoconut oil(or high-heat oil of choice), divided
  • 1medium shallot,finely chopped
  • 2garlic cloves,minced
  • 1tablespoongrated fresh galangal***
  • 3tablespoonsfinely chopped fresh cilantro
  • 3cupsvegetable broth
  • 1(14 ounce or 400 ml) canfull-fat coconut milk
  • 1 ½cupsfresh baby corn,cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 1cupsliced shiitake mushroom caps
  • 7ouncesextra firm tofu,drained, pressed, and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 3cupsfresh broccoli florets(about 1 small crown)
  • 2tablespoonslime juice
  • 1teaspoonsambal oelek
  • Salt to taste
  • Fresh cilantro, basil and/or scallions,for serving

US Customary – Metric


  1. If you’re using dried makrut lime leaves, start by placing them in a cup or bowl of hot water. Let them soak for about 20 minutes while you prep the remaining ingredients, then chop them finely.

  2. Cut a slit down the length of each lemongrass stalk, then peel away the dried outer layers. Finely chop the inner core.

  3. Coat the bottom of a large pot with a tablespoon of coconut oil and place it over medium heat.

  4. When the oil is hot, add the shallot and cook it until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes.

  5. Add the garlic, galangal, and cilantro. Cook everything for about a minute, until very fragrant.

  6. Stir in the broth, coconut milk, baby corn, mushrooms, lemongrass and makrut lime leaves. Raise the heat and bring the liquid to a boil.

  7. Lower the heat and allow the soup to simmer for about 15 minutes, until the veggies are tender.

  8. While the soup simmers, cook the tofu. Coat the bottom of a medium skillet with the remaining tablespoon of oil and place it over medium heat.

  9. When the oil is hot, add the tofu in an even layer.

  10. Cook the tofu for about 10 minutes, flipping it once or twice to achieve browning on multiple sides.

  11. Remove the tofu from the skillet and transfer it to a plate.

  12. Once the soup has simmered for about 15 minutes, stir in the broccoli. Simmer the soup for about 5 minutes more, until the broccoli is tender and bright green.

  13. Remove the soup from heat and stir in the tofu, lime juice, and sambal oelek. Season it with salt to taste.

  14. Ladle the soup into bowls and top it with fresh cilantro, basil and/or scallions. Serve.

Recipe Notes

*You can substitute a tablespoon of lime zest if needed, though the flavor will  be slightly different.

**Lemongrass paste (available in the produce section of most supermarkets) may be used if you can’t find fresh. I’m not entirely sure how much to use though, so I’d add it to taste, just a bit at a time when the soup is almost finished cooking.

***You can substitute regular ginger if needed, though the flavor will be slightly different.

Nutrition FactsThai Coconut SoupAmount Per Serving (1.5 cups)Calories 420Calories from Fat 324% Daily Value*Fat 36g55%Saturated Fat 29g145%Sodium 638mg27%Potassium 1012mg29%Carbohydrates 32.7g11%Fiber 7.2g29%Sugar 9g10%Protein 15g30%Calcium 13mg1%Iron 31mg172%* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.« Portobello Vegan Beef(less) StewAfrican Peanut Soup »

Sharing is caring!

I tried it and it was fabulously delicious. My family loved it, I had to make it again. I didn’t have the Shitakes, I used regular mushrooms but was still delicious. Thank you Allisa.



  • Will canned baby corn work? I made this soup about a month ago for our wwoofers and it was a big hit!


    • Best.soup.ever


      • I have 2 large lemongrass pots in the garden. So glad I found the perfect recipe! Made some for my foodie son and he absolutely loved it! Well balanced ingredients, and ohhh sooo good! I have made it twice already! I used ginger and lime leaves from my tree, but I bought some dry galangal and will check the difference.


        • Hi, I’m Alissa! I’m a former attorney turned professional food blogger. I love creating vegan recipes with bold flavors!

          More about me →

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *