Tom Kha Gai or Tom Yum Soup are the dishes that I think every person trying Thai food for the first time should start on.
Both of these soups have a similar taste profile, however, Tom Yum has a tomato base, where Tom Khi Gai has that silky coconut milk flavor. There is something familiar about the lime flavor but also unique about the galangal root and lemongrass that is so inviting and keeps you digging in for more.
Now, of course, I recommend the Tom Kha Gai on keto because of the full-fat coconut milk, which goes nicely with our macros but I’ve made both and have loved them equally.
I traveled to Thailand in 2014 with my husband and I ate this soup almost every day, no exaggeration, some days just the broth with vegetables and others I would order a side of coconut rice to carb it up. I used to love white rice! Especially white rice from Thailand. I know it’s the same as we get here but they just cooked to perfection… it might have been all that vitamin D I was getting.
Needless to say, I wasn’t keto back then but thankfully Thai is one of those cuisines that I can still enjoy on a ketogenic diet with just a few moderations. I am going to introduce you to my version of a Keto Tom Kha Gai Soup, and I think you are going to love it too!
How to Get Around that Sweet Flavor
The one thing about Thai food is that it is hard to eat out because of all the palm sugar that they add to their foods and the starches are a big factor in their cuisine. It doesn’t mean you must give it up, it just means that you will in most cases need to make it from scratch.
In my recipes, I use swerve in place of the palm sugar, its texture blends in the best and it best replicates the flavor of sugar in my opinion. It also dissolves immediately upon adding it to Thai soups quite well. I wrote another article on sugar-free sweeteners if you want to read it, click here.
Isn’t Thailand a land of rice?
Thai dishes and a lot of my favorites that I have converted into keto are originally stuffed with carbohydrates. If it isn’t the sugar it’s the starches, mostly rice but also potatoes and carrots are used in their dishes also. I am happy to report that is something you can work around.
There are many alternatives to noodles which I mention below but you can also substitute those amazing fried rice dishes with basil for cauliflower rice. If you are loading the dish up with those incredible Thai spices and flavors, you won’t miss the starchy rice. It’s the flavor we are after, after all.
What you need to know to cook KETO Thai food at home:
You’ve got to watch for hidden sugars and ditch the carbs! Here are your biggest culprits besides the sugar:
Fish Sauce – A key ingredient but most contain sugar, so you’ll need to buy a sugar-free brand. Here is one that I recommend: Red Boat Vietnamese Extra Virgin Fish Sauce Bottle – Click Here
Ingredients: Anchovy, Sea Salt
Hot sauces – some contain sugar, so you need to pick a sugar free one but this isn’t hard, there are plenty of sugar free brands, and you can also just use straight up chilis. If you are looking for sugar-free, here is one that I recommend: Huy Fong Sauce Chili Garlic – Click Here.
Ingredients: Chili, Salt, Garlic, Distilled Vinegar, Potassium Sorbate, Sodium Bisulfite & Xanthan Gum
Noodles – you will need to substitute as rice noodles are a no-go on the ketogenic diet but the great news is that there are some great substitute options.
Here are a few of my favorites to substitute noodles for:
- Mung Bean noodle
- Konjac noodles
- Zucchini Noodles
- Sliced Cabbage
- Bean Sprouts
- Cauliflower rice
One thing to mention about Mung Bean Noodles, they are high in carb but most of which are fiber, so net carbs make them keto if you count net carbs, I personally do because I think it’s healthy to get in a higher fiber intake. But this is a personal choice for everyone. So if you count whole carbs below 20, mung bean might not be your personal choice.
Yields: 4 servings
- 8 oz chicken thighs, skinless
- 1 stick lemongrass
- 1-inch galangal (or ginger root)
- 5 lime leaves (or 2 limes juiced)
- 6 oz fresh tomatoes, chopped
- 3 oz button mushrooms, quartered
- 3 cups bone broth, or any stock
- 4 Tbsp sugar-free fish sauce
- 1 tsp swerve (you can omit if you prefer – see step 9)
- 1 tsp chili paste
- 3 Tbsp lime juice
- 2 chilis for heat, cut down the center to expose seeds
- 1 can coconut milk, full fat
- cilantro for serving
- Lightly freeze the chicken for 20 minutes & slice into thin slices, set aside
- Smash the lemongrass with a meat mallet or the flat of a chef’s knife once and then cut into 1-inch pieces, set side with lime leaves
- Slice galangal into thin pieces, set side with lemongrass & lime leaves (you will be eating around these, so you want them to be big enough that you can see them in your soup)
- In a large pot, on medium-high heat bring the broth to a boil, add lemongrass, galangal and lime leaves and cook for three minutes
- Add fish sauce, let cook for 1 minute and then add the chili paste & reduce heat to medium
- Add mushrooms and let cook for 3-5 minutes, until the mushrooms are cooked
- Turn heat back up to medium-high, add the chicken and cook for 5 minutes, or until chicken is cooked
- Lastly, add the coconut milk, tomatoes & lime juice; stir, reduce heat to low-medium
- Taste the broth and add in swerve if you want a slightly sweeter flavor to the broth
- Add in chili’s if using, let simmer for 5 minutes before serving
- Remove lemongrass & lime leaves before serving & the chili’s unless you are a daredevil
- Serve with cilantro on top! Oh & don’t forget to remind your guests to not eat the galangal 😉
Nutrition information varies by products you use, my products produce the following per serving:
Calories: 219|Fat: 15 grams|Carbohydrates: 10 (2 sugar alcohols)|Fiber: 4 grams|Protein: 10 grams
Want to try Tom Yum Soup?
Easy! Switch the coconut for extra broth and you might want to omit the Swerve, but try it first and see if you want to add it in.