Sweet, Spicy, and Exotic, the best Thai style coconut shrimp soup!

Almost every chef I know has a fetish like relationship with the cuisine of the Asian continent. Whether it’s Vietnamese Pho or Korean Bulgolgi, there’s just something about those bold exotic flavors that excite the palate like the finale of a 4th of July fireworks display, 1812 overture and all. On discovering Thai food, Anthony Bourdain once said, “it was like discovering a whole new box of crayons”. From the first dish I tried, I have constantly been drawn to the rich flavors of curry, lemongrass, coconut milk, and spicy peppers. The depth of flavor can be considered unmatched compared to other global cuisine. Thai food seems to strike a perfect balance of sweet, salty, spicy, and umami.

One of my favorite dishes is the sublime coconut soup known as Tom Kha. A rich broth that is flavored with lemongrass, galangal root, garlic, and Thai chili pepper. As a side note, if you want to make this recipe a tad more on the healthy side you can certainly use light coconut milk, but you will be compromising your consistency. Also, if you do not have galangal root, ginger makes a perfectly acceptable substitution.


1 Tbsp toasted sesame seed oil
1 cup medium diced onion
1 stalk of lemongrass smashed and sliced
shrimp shells from 1 pound of 16/20 shrimp
1 tsp Thai chili garlic sauce
1 tsp red curry paste
2 minced garlic cloves
1 thumb sized piece of galangal root
2 cans of coconut milk
2 cups clam juice

1 tbsp toasted sesame seed oil
1 cup of julienne red and green pepper
2 cups of slice button mushroom
1 tsp fresh minced garlic
1 tsp fresh minced galangal root
1 tsp Thai chili garlic sauce
1 pound diced 16/20 shrimp (peeled and de-veined)
2 Roma tomatoes peeled, seeded, and julienned
1/2 cup sliced green onion
1 tbsp fish sauce
2 Tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp salt
juice from 1 fresh lime



For the stock:

Heat a large stock pot on high and add oil, onion, garlic, shrimp shells, Thai chili garlic sauce, lemongrass, and galangal root.  Sauté until onions become translucent and then add coconut milk, red curry paste, and clam juice. Bring to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes. Strain and set aside for soup.


For the soup:

Heat a large stock pot on high heat, add sesame seed oil and sear shrimp. Remove shrimp and then add pepper, mushroom, garlic, galangal root, and Thai chili garlic sauce.  Sauté until peppers being to soften. Add stock, tomatoes, lime juice, fish sauce, and sugar.  Bring to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes.  Add shrimp and cook for 5 more minutes.  Season with salt.