yummy recipes for busy people

20-minute Almost Vegan Thai Ginger Coconut Soup

This post may contain affiliate links, which are always marked with *. Please read my disclosure for more information.

This quick & easy Thai Ginger Coconut Soup is almost vegan and perfectly warm and cosy for the winter months. Based on a classic Tom Kha recipe, this one uses ginger in place of galangal and the end result is equally comforting. Every spoonful tastes like a hug, with subtle flavors all complementing the natural sweetness of the coconut milk.

close up side view of thai ginger coconut soup in a blue bowl

You might be familiar with the classic Thai dish Tom Kha Gai, which translates to Galangal Soup with Chicken. Traditionally served in Thailand during the cold winters (ehm, have they heard of Sweden??) the galangal is supposed to warm you up from the inside. Kinda perfect for a cold January, right?

Well, the only drawback to galangal is that it’s generally quite hard to find in the west. Regular supermarkets often don’t carry it, and half of the time I even fail to find it at my go-to Asian supermarket. So since I’m all about recipes you can actually create at home – something had to be done!

Enter: ginger. Another delicious root, closely related to galangal, but a bit different in taste, and even more fragrant.

top view of thai ginger coconut soup in two blue bowls on a black surface

The difference between Galangal & Ginger

Galangal and ginger can look very similar, and some of you might even have mistaken them for one another at times. They are actually related, but not too close in taste.

How Does Galangal and Ginger Taste

While galangal is more citrusy and nutty, ginger is more fragrant and spicy. So when we use ginger instead of galangal we get a soup that has a bit of a bite to it – but not too much – and that longs for a touch of lime juice.

Health Benefits of Galangal and Ginger

Both galangal and ginger have amazing health benefits, and I find them both to be the perfect companions for cold & flu season.

While they’re both highly anti-inflammatory and can help with digestive issues, galangal has in recent years been talked about as supposedly being amazing for fighting cancer and ginger can work wonders for all types of nausea – be it due to morning sickness, motion sickness or just a few too many glasses of vino.

two blue bowls of thai ginger coconut soup on a black surface

How to Make Almost Vegan Thai Ginger Coconut Soup

Making this ginger coconut soup is super easy and done in just 20 minutes. No meat, no poultry, no fish – however, there is a dash or two of fish sauce in there, making it neither Vegan nor Vegetarian. But if you’re just trying to cut down on the meat, then this might just be sufficient for you. I know it is for me!

To get started, chop up your eggplant, tomatoes and white button mushrooms. Then heat up the vegetable stock, coconut milk and coconut cream.

Coconut Milk vs Coconut Cream

Now what is coconut cream, you might ask. Coconut cream is basically a fattier version of coconut milk, but the difference in fattiness isn’t too big in the west. The coconut milk I used for this recipe contained 17% of fat, while the coconut cream had 20%. So if you can’t find coconut cream – just add the same amount of coconut milk instead.

Fun fact about coconut milk and cream: in Thailand I was taught that what we get here as Coconut Milk is often what they call Coconut Cream, while their version of Coconut Milk is often called “Light” Coconut Milk in the west. And the difference in fattiness really comes from the coconut cream coming from the first pressing of the coconut, and the coconut milk from the second. A little trivia for you to serve with this dish!

Anyway. When you’ve heated up the vegetable stock, coconut milk & cream to a boil you add in the ginger, kaffir lime leaves and lemon grass. Now, two important pointers here regarding kaffir lime leaves and lemon grass.

close up side view of thai ginger coconut soup with a spoonful of soup

Fresh vs Dried Kaffir Lime Leaves

If you manage to get ahold of fresh kaffir lime leaves, wait and add them at the end instead – at the same time as the chili. I’ve never seen fresh lime leaves of any kind in Sweden and so I use the dried kind. These need a little time to release all their flavor and hence I add them earlier.

How to Use Lemon Grass

Lemon grass is deliciously fragrant, and an important part of Thai cuisine. It took me a long while to understand where that deliciously aromatic citrusy – but not acidic! – flavor came from, and a big part of that flavor is thanks to the lemon grass. (The rest? The delicious kaffir lime leaves!)

Now for lemon grass to release all that delicious flavor, you do need to manage it a bit. Nothing difficult, but if you don’t you just won’t get the same amount of flavor.

What you do is you cut the lemon grass into a few pieces, and then crush the pieces using the side of your knife. It should still stick together (so you can easily remove it at the end) but crushing it releases all that yummy flavor.

sliced ginger, lime leaves, lemon grass and chili on a blue chopping board

OK so when you’ve added the ginger, lemon grass and lime leaves you stir and let it boil for about 2 minutes. After this you add in the chopped egg plant, tomatoes and mushrooms, stir, and let boil for another 5 minutes before taking off the heat. Add in the chili (without the seeds, if you don’t want too much heat), stir, and let sit off the heat for 2 minutes.

After this comes the part that will make your soup fancier than all the other Thai soups: the removing of all the stuff you don’t really want to eat. This might seem tedious and yes I know they don’t always do it for Thai takeout – but we’re trying to be better than that, OK? It’s really not too much work. Just grab a pair of kitchen forceps and pick out the ginger slices, lemon grass pieces, lime leaves and chili.

close up side view of thai ginger coconut soup with a spoonful of soup

Now comes the final touch! Season with fish sauce and lime juice, according to your taste. I really like this soup not to have too overbearing tastes, but to be more soft and comforting, so the amounts stated in the recipe should accomplish just that. If you want more or less flavor – just adjust, taste test, and add as needed. Finally, mix in the chopped cilantro, and serve.

Whew! That was a long one. The actual making of ginger coconut soup is not at all as complicated as this post is long, and I am confident you will pull it off without a glitch. If you just can’t get enough of Thai Soups – check out this Thai Chicken Noodle Soup as well.

Did you try this recipe? What did you think? Please leave a comment and a rating below, and let me know! Or just leave one anyway – I love hearing from you. Posting about this anywhere? Please tag me @alwaysusebutter and use the hashtag #alwaysusebutter.

Now enjoy this cosy meal in the cold weather, and let’s talk in a few days.



closeup sideview of thai ginger coconut soup

Thai Coconut Ginger Soup

4.8 from 5 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Appetizer, Main Course, Soup
Cuisine: Thai
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 4 people
Calories: 447kcal


  • 400 ml coconut milk
  • 200 ml coconut cream
  • 1000 ml vegetable stock
  • 70 g ginger thinly sliced
  • 1 lemon grass cut in piece and slightly crushed
  • 4 kaffir lime leaves dried
  • 0.5 medium-sized egg plant roughly chopped
  • 10 white button mushrooms roughly chopped
  • 4 tomatoes roughly chopped
  • 1 red chili cut in large pieces, seeds removed
  • 2 Tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 lime juice of
  • 10 g cilantro chopped


  • Pour the coconut milk, coconut cream and vegetable stock in a large pot and stir. Heat to a boil over medium heat.
  • Add in the ginger, lemon grass and lime leaves. Stir and simmer for about 2 minutes, until fragrant.
  • Add in the chopped egg plant, mushrooms and tomatoes. Stir and bring back to a boil. Simmer for about 5 minutes, until vegetables have softened.
  • Take the pot off the heat and add in the chili. Stir and let sit for 2 minutes. Meanwhile, use a kitchen forceps to remove the slices of ginger, pieces of lemon grass and lime leave. Finally, remove the pieces of chili.
  • Add in the fish sauce and lime juice. Taste test and adjust. Finish by adding in the chopped cilantro.
  • Serve on its own, or add cooked jasmine rice for a larger meal.


  • Like it hot?ย Keep the seeds in the chilis when adding them.
  • Make it vegan?ย Exclude the fish sauce or replace it with your favorite substitute.


Calories: 447kcal | Carbohydrates: 24g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 39g | Saturated Fat: 34g | Sodium: 1736mg | Potassium: 1120mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 9g | Vitamin A: 1845IU | Vitamin C: 41.5mg | Calcium: 48mg | Iron: 5.5mg

Nutritional information is approximate and automatically calculated, and should only be viewed as an indication.

Did you make this? Tag me today!Tag @alwaysusebutter and use the hashtag #alwaysusebutter!

32 thoughts on “20-minute Almost Vegan Thai Ginger Coconut Soup”

Leave a Reply

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

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.