Tom Kha Gai, or spicy coconut soup, is one of my favorite dishes in Thai cuisine. I love the creamy, gingery, limey broth with soft pieces of onion and tender boiled chicken, it's so warm and invigorating. For this soup I wanted to incorporate some of my favorite Tom Kha Gai elements into a heartier, more filling soup, perfect for brisk autumn evenings.
I swapped the (usually rather sparse) chicken out for plentiful chunks of bright orange sweet potato, added some green beans, and spiced it up a bit with extra chillies and a bit of curry powder. I love sweet potato in soup, it becomes so soft and luscious, and it soaks up all the delightful coconut milk and spices.
You begin this recipe by softening the onions together with the chillies, ginger, and garlic- and the smell of them all sizzling away is just phenomenal. That sharp ginger-onion-chili spice wafts out of the pan and fills the kitchen, reminding me of Balinese sambal sauce, which is made from coconut vinegar, chillies, ginger, and shallots. If I close my eyes and breathe in over this pot, I can almost imagine I'm reclining in a pondok, surrounded by rice paddies, drinking a Bintang and munching on crispy fried duck. Ahh, Bali is heaven.
If you can't find a pondok surrounded by rice paddies, this soup is a pretty great runner up in terms of heavenly experiences. I've been running every day for the past week, and after an especially windy and chilly jog this is the perfect soup to come home to.
From the first sip you can feel its warmth spreading from your core out through your sore, tired, cold extremities, all the way to your finger tips and your toes. The chillies add the perfect twist of spice that becomes a slow burn the more you eat, and the ginger adds a lovely zippiness.
This is a fantastic dinner or lunch soup, no need to make any sides, a big bowl of this is a whole meal. It comes together quickly, making a great weeknight meal, and it'll fill you up, and warm you from head to toe!
Spicy Coconut Yam Soup
2-3 thinly sliced thai chili peppers (+ extra for topping if you like spicy soup)
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
2 inches ginger, grated
1 tbsp olive oil
1 lb sweet potato cut into 1" cubes
6 oz green beans into 1" segments
1 can coconut milk
32 oz chicken broth
1 tsp curry powder
1 tsp fish sauce
In a large, heavy pot pour 1 tbsp of olive oil, and add the chopped onions and minced peppers. Cook over medium heat, stirring often, for 2-3 minutes, until onion begins to soften. Add the minced garlic and cook another 3-4 minutes, until onions are soft and translucent and the garlic is fragrant.
Add the grated ginger, stir well, then add the sweet potatoes, followed by the curry powder and fish sauce. Stir well to coat potatoes in curry and fish sauce, then add the chicken broth, and coconut milk. Squeeze the juice of 1/2 a lime in, then bring to a boil.
Once the soup is boiling, reduce the heat to medium-low, and cook 5-8 minutes. Add the green beans and continue to cook until green beans and potato are soft and ready to eat, about 10 more minutes.
While the soup cooks, thinly slice the white and light green parts of the scallions.
Once potato and green beans are soft, remove soup from heat and ladle into bowls. Top each bowl with freshly sliced scallion, and any remaining sliced chilies. Enjoy!