Tom Kha Gai (Paleo/Primal)

I am grateful that the weather is beginning to cool down, as it gives me an excuse to makes hearty soups. This one is one of my absolute favourites – but then there’s very little (if any!) Thai food that I don’t like. The best part is, this recipe is Paleo without even trying to be. It’s hearty, it’s filling. It packs a good dose of protein and long chain triglycerides, as well as all the gelatin from the homemade chicken stock that serves as the back bone of this dish.

I find though, that it’s really the mushrooms that make it.


I prefer to use a combination of oyster and button mushrooms, although I had no oyster mushrooms on hand, and so made do with the simple brown buttons I had. It still came out lip-smackingly delicious. You could use just about any kind of mushroom you wanted, though.

Mushrooms provide many essential nutrients, such as selenium, vitamin D, potassium, riboflavin, and niacin.

Get some in you – they do a body good!



1.5 L homemade chicken stock (recipe here)
2 x 400 ml tins coconut milk
2 tbsp fish sauce
Juice of 3 kefir limes (or normal limes)
4 x kefir lime leaves, washed and torn
1.5 inch piece of galangal, chopped into coins
2 x stalks lemongrass, bruised, and cut into 2 inch pieces
2-3 birds eye chilies, finely sliced
250 g mushrooms (any variety, you can use more if you like)
500 g boneless, skinless chicken breast cut into thin strips


1. Pour stock into a large pot and bring to the boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to low, and allow the liquid to reduce by about a quarter to concentrate the flavours.

2. While the stock is reducing, prepare your aromatics. Tear the kefir lime leaves – set aside. Cut the galangal – set aside. Bruise the lemongrass with any heavy object (I used a pestle), cut, and set aside. Cut your chilies – set aside. Juice your limes – set aside. You can also chop your mushrooms (leaving them chunky), and chicken (thinly), setting both aside.


3. Once reduced, add the aromatics you prepared earlier, leaving the lime juice out. Place a lid over the pot, and allow to simmer for about 10 mins. The broth will become very fragrant. At this point your broth should be at a low simmer – no higher.

4. Add the two tins of coconut milk, and continue to simmer for a further 10 mins. Add the mushrooms, giving a good stir, and continue to simmer for 5 minutes.


5. Now we’re going to poach the chicken. The key here is to not over-cook it, so we don’t want the heat too high. Turn the heat right down to low until your broth is barely bubbling. Add the chicken, stir, and replace the pot lid. Set a timer for 20 mins.

6. Once the timer goes, the chicken should be cooked all the way through. Find a piece, and break it in two to test. If still pink, let simmer for a few mins longer. If opaque all the way through, you’re ready to serve. Add the lime juice – a little at a time, and taste-testing in between – until you find an acidity you are happy with.

7. Serve soup in a large bowl, and garnish with fresh coriander, and more chopped chilies.


Bon appetit!



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