Cauliflower Tom Kha Gai

Yesterday at dinnertime I had two recipes bookmarked:  one for Tom Kha Gai (a Thai soup made with coconut milk and lime) and another for Cauliflower Curry Soup.  I ended up melding these recipes into a light yet satisfying soup that my whole family enjoyed. Some of the ingredients are a little obscure, but never fear– I suggested some affordable substitutions.  This recipe serves 6, and will take 45 minutes or so to pull together, since there’s a fair bit of chopping involved.  But the yummy flavor is well worth the effort.


  • 4 tablespoons butter or coconut oil
  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce (or soy sauce)
  • 3 carrots
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1/2 head cauliflower, cut in bite sized pieces
  • 6 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup sliced mushrooms
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped (or 1 tsp dry)
  • juice from 1 lime
  • zest from 1 lime
  • 1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger (or to be authentic use galangal if you have it– I didn’t)
  • 1 15-ounce can coconut milk (or make your own by soaking 1 cup of shredded sweetened coconut in 2 cups of warm milk for a few minutes.  Then whiz with an immersion blender.  At this point you can strain out the coconut and discard it, adding only the milk to the soup.  Or you can do like I did and just toss the coconut in the soup too.)

1.  Begin by chopping the onions into thin slices and the carrots into coins. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a large heavy pot on medium-high heat. Add onions and carrots and cook until the onions have some browned bits and the carrots are just beginning to soften, about 5 minutes.

2.  While this is cooking, cube the chicken bite size.  When the onions and carrots have some color, use a slotted spoon to remove them from the pot and set aside in a bowl. Now add the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter, the fish sauce and the cubed chicken to the pot.  Cook on medium-high until chicken is browned on several sides, about 5-10 minutes.  (If this is your first experience with fish sauce, it is alarmingly pungent.  Don’t worry– it imparts a wonderful flavor to the chicken.)

3.  Once the chicken is browned, add the chicken broth to the pot and return the carrots and onions to the pot as well.  Cut the cauliflower into bite size pieces and add to the pot.  Here’s where you also add the cilantro, the ginger, and the zest from the lime.

4. Turn the pot down to medium and let the soup simmer for 10 minutes or so.  At this point the cauliflower and carrots should be easy to pierce with a fork, but not so soft that they are falling apart.

5. Add the mushrooms and the coconut milk to the pot, letting it very gently simmer for 3-5 more minutes.  Just before serving, stir in the lime juice and add salt to taste.  You can also add just a dab more butter if desired.  Serve and enjoy!



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  1. Looks great! I just looked for a new recipe with cauliflower last night…. this one can go on my list.

  2. This looks delicious! Thank you for posting this recipe!

  3. Sounds yummy! I’m going to try this, for sure!

  4. This looks amazing! I just bought 2 heads of cauliflower & limes . . . might even have the coconut milk in the pantry. WooHoo. Guess I’m set. :o) Thanks for sharing your recipe, Mary.

  5. Great soup! 🙂 I love the idea of adding cauliflower, I bet that would go really well with the other flavors. I’d love you to come and share this on Sunday Night Soup Night this Sunday!

  6. Do you say the name like Tom, Ka, GUY? Just want to make sure I sound like I am well acquainted with what I’ve made! It looks delicious.

    I’ve nominated you for a Versatile Blogger Award, Mary. I want to send lots of readers your way! Details are at my blog

    Blessings to you! (I would have sent this post privately but where do I do that?)


  7. I will definitely try this. All my favorite ingredients! I will try to make it on a night when my 10 year old daughter is busy and eating dinner elsewhere though… poor thing will think she’s done something wrong if I put both mushrooms and cauliflower in her food.

  8. Mary, we recently accepted a referral for two girlies (6 and 11 ish) from Ethiopia – making our grand total 6 kiddos, 3 Habesha and 3 bio. I need to start practicing making larger quantities of dinner for my kiddaroos. I love your recipes though I am curious as to how you approach dinner with a large crew. See at least three nights a week we are feeding friends too.

    When you make dinner for everyone, do you make enough for leftovers every single meal, or do you guys finish things off most nights? Do you have a picky eater or three in the mix that tend to reject what you make?

    Thanks for being so generous with your time and talents in sharing with the class…

  9. One more question: With a meal like soup like this, what would you serve with it. Bread or injera on the table? Fruit on the side?

    Just trying to revamp how I handle meals. And going straight to the pros. 🙂

  10. Heather Mason says:

    this soup is so good! Made it today!


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