This Slow Cooker Thai Chicken Coconut Soup is loosely based on the classic Thai soup- Tom Kha Gai, but I’ve loaded it up with veggies and rice noodles to make it a easy, hearty and healthy weeknight meal. It’s naturally gluten-free!
When I first started thinking about this recipe I was planning to make it a pretty authentic version of Tom Kha Gai. Which is more simple than this recipe- meaning it’s more about the aromatic coconut broth and chicken.
What I ended up with is not authentic at all. I mean- the fact that it’s slow cooker should be the first tip-off. Really, at the end, this is more about walking in the door at dinnertime, and having to do nothing more than stir some noodles into the soup to soften a bit.
I mean the coconut broth is awesome, don’t get me wrong.
But this Slow Cooker Thai Chicken Coconut Soup is a whole meal because I loaded it with veggies (shiitake mushrooms, bell peppers, scallions and napa cabbage) and I added a couple ounces of cellophane rice noodles to give it a bit more oomph. Aka- convince the Dad folks that this is in fact a whole meal.
On the second night we had this, our neighbor (who is an excellent baker) gave us a loaf of sourdough, still warm from the oven, and we had that with this soup- but it is hearty enough without bread too.
How to make Slow Cooker Chicken Coconut Soup
- First whisk the broth and liquids together in the slow cooker.
- The lime zest stands in for traditional makrut lime leaves (commonly also known as Kaffir lime.) Since there’s only one or two specialty food shops in this area that carry lime leaves, I decided that it would be more useful for all of us, if this recipe worked with lime zest instead. I used the zest and juice of a whole lime for the broth. If you like your coconut soup to be more limey than this, you can serve lime wedges on the side.
- I used full-fat coconut milk. I tried it with light coconut milk but it was grainy/broken looking, and not creamy enough for me. If you are looking to shave some calories- feel free to swap in the light coconut milk.
- I used half of a habanero pepper. My kids didn’t think this was too spicy. I could have used a bit more heat. If you can find them, one red Thai chili would be perfect.
- To flavor the coconut broth I used maple syrup- typically Tom Kha Gai has a bit of sweetness to it. Instead of refined sugar- I used our home-made syrup. If you want to sub in brown sugar or another sugar feel free.
- While mushrooms are common in Tom Kha Gai, red bell pepper and Napa cabbage aren’t. I added these vegetables to give you two vegetable servings per serving. Which makes this a meal. Yay!
- I used boneless skinless chicken thighs because they do really well when you cook them in the slow cooker. They become tender without drying out. You may use chicken breast instead, but the meat will be more dry in texture.
- There are lots of variations of fish sauce from Southeast Asia. You can read about the difference between the two we most commonly find here: Vietnamese and Thai. For this recipe, I used Thai fish sauce. It’s Golden Boy brand. If you do not have fish sauce, I highly recommend you buy a bottle, and keep it in your fridge to have on hand. It lasts forever because it is so salty. And it really has no substitute in my opinion. It isn’t just salty- it’s umami.
- In the last half hour of cooking, stir in the Napa cabbage, scallions and rice cellophane noodles (I used Thai kitchen brand noodles) to soften.
- Right before serving stir in the fresh herbs to preserve maximum flavor and freshness.
Coconut Milk and Thyme Braised Chicken from Diethood
Sticky Thai Chicken from Running to the Kitchen
Slow Cooker Thai Chicken Quinoa Bowls from Food Faith Fitness
A slow-cooker Chicken Coconut Soup inspired by Tom Kha Gai, with the addition of healthy vegetables, and gluten-free cellophane noodles to make it a hearty meal for a busy weeknight.
- 4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth or home-made chicken stock
- 14-ounce can coconut milk
- 3 tablespoons pure maple syrup, dark or amber
- 4 teaspoons fish sauce, such as Golden Boy
- 1 lime, zested and juiced
- 1 clove garlic, chopped
- ½ hot red chili, minced, or to taste
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 2-inch piece of ginger, peeled and split lengthwise
- 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs
- 1 red bell pepper, diced
- 5 ounces sliced stemmed shiitake mushrooms
- 2 ounces rice cellophane noodles
- 3 cups shredded Napa cabbage
- 4 scallions, chopped
- 3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
- 3 tablespoons chopped basil or Thai basil
- Whisk broth, coconut milk, maple syrup, fish sauce, lime zest and juice, garlic, hot chili and salt in the insert of a large slow cooker. Add ginger and chicken thighs. Add bell pepper and mushrooms on top. Cover and cook on low for 7 1/2 hours.
- Remove 2 pieces of ginger. Stir in Napa cabbage and scallions. Break cellophane noodles into two pieces and submerge into liquid as much as possible. Continue cooking on low for 30 more minutes.
- Stir to combine, breaking up large chunks of chicken. Stir in cilantro and basil. Serve hot.