Thai Coconut Soup with Tofu and Mushrooms

by on February 7, 2006
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Last night I realized that I had an open can of coconut milk that I needed to use soon–never a bad situation since coconut milk is one of my favorite foods. I decided to try to recreate the coconut milk and tofu soup I’ve had in Thai restaurants, while reducing the amount of coconut milk just enough to lighten up the recipe a little. (If you prefer to avoid the coconut milk completely, see the *note at the end of the recipe.)

I needed to work with the ingredients that I had in my kitchen, so I made some adjustments to replace some traditional ingredients I just didn’t have. One was lemongrass. I didn’t have frozen lemongrass, but I did happen to have a jar of dried lemongrass, so I used a couple of teaspoons of it in this recipe. If you have fresh or frozen lemongrass, by all means, use it. But if you don’t have even the dried version, use a couple of teaspoons of lemon juice instead.

Another traditional ingredient that I don’t have access to is Kaffir lime leaves, so I’ve used 2 teaspoons of grated lime zest as a substitute. If you’re lucky enough to have the original ingredient, use two teaspoons of the leaves sliced thin.

This came out delicious–redolent of coconut, ginger, and red pepper. Adding a squeeze of lime juice just before serving really makes the flavors pop. I tried to be conservative with the curry paste, but I still managed to get it too spicy for my daughter. She wound up eating just the tofu and mushrooms on a bed of rice. Oh well–more coconut broth for the grown-ups!

Thai Coconut Soup with Tofu and Mushrooms

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{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Ellie October 11, 2009 at 4:28 pm

This soup was really good! Just made it for dinner. I used light brown sugar and garnished with green onions. I also decided to mix with a tab bit of peanut butter and it turned out perfectly!


2 bala July 1, 2010 at 5:54 pm

I just had coconut soup at a vegan restaurant which used rice noodles, spinach and pineapple chunks in addition to the vegetables you have mentioned. It was absolutely delicious. I fully intend to make it soon using your receipe and adding those extra ingredients.


3 Sydney November 7, 2010 at 12:26 pm

Would you mind posting the nutritional facts on this? Can’t wait to try it.


4 Beth January 22, 2011 at 12:17 pm

Just discovered your website, Susan. It’s fabulous! Excited to make this today, an 8-degree day in Chicago. And I’m with Sydney – do you have estimated nutritional info?

Can’t wait to add more recipes to my recipe box! 🙂


5 SusanV January 22, 2011 at 3:01 pm

Beth, I’ve just added the nutrition info. It’s quite a lot of fat if you use full-fat coconut milk but if you replace it with lite coconut milk or soymilk and coconut extract, the calories and fat go way down.


6 Lucy Glib January 22, 2011 at 4:11 pm

Thanks, Susan, for the speedy reply! I am using 365-brand “light” coconut milk so I will guesstimate.


7 Craig January 22, 2011 at 10:12 pm

This is my go-to recipe these days. So tasty and filling. I add canned bamboo shoots and matchstick-cut carrots if I have them.


8 Todd February 22, 2011 at 8:49 am

Really enjoy the site. I have been eating some coconut milk and using coconut oil and actually feel more mentally alert as a vegan. At the same time I am seeing some vegans physicians state that coconut is forbodden because of the saturated fat. Can anyone help me solve my confusion?


9 Tom Wills September 13, 2011 at 2:08 pm

The minced ginger is close to the feeling of that Thai soup, but Kha (galingale,) a relative of ginger is the what gives those coconut milk soups their distinctive flavor….It can be purchased online in dried form…and here, near San Francisco, it can be found fresh in Asian markets and groceries….

Thanks for all the recipes,
Tom Wills


10 Emily February 8, 2012 at 11:30 pm

I looked up this recipe online after eating a vegan curried tofu kale soup from a restaurant so I could try to re-create it at home. Adding a healthy helping of kale to this should do the trick. Goes very well; makes the soup heartier & who doesn’t love the fun curly texture of kale?


11 Livie February 23, 2012 at 11:46 am

There is a wonderful paste on the market to make this soup (brandname Lobo – Tom kha paste) . Pretty easy to get in the U.S. at Asian shops. You can find a picture here…. This paste also makes a great tofu marinade. Ingredients: Salt, galanga, lemongrass, soybean oil, sugar, spices, msg, citric acid.


12 Ernie February 23, 2012 at 3:16 pm

Hi Susan, had this yesterday at a local Thai restaurant and am eager to try your recipe. Does it have to be canned coconut milk or can carton versions like SoDelicious be used?


13 Susan Voisin February 23, 2012 at 3:19 pm

You can use the carton kind, but just like soy or rice milk, you would need to add coconut extract for it to have a coconut flavor. I’ve found that the SoDelicious doesn’t really have that coconut taste.


14 Ernie February 23, 2012 at 4:20 pm

Thank you, Susan, I will stick with the can!


15 jaime March 2, 2012 at 3:41 pm

can this be prepared in a vitamix? i just got one and looking for fun ways to utilize it.


16 Susan Voisin March 2, 2012 at 4:21 pm

I didn’t intend it as a blended soup, but who knows, it might be good that way. Have fun with your new Vitamix!


17 Emily Soleil March 4, 2012 at 10:08 am

I want to use fresh lemongrass in this. How much should I use? I haven’t tried using it before, but I have some that I found at the asian market here in Knoxville.


18 Julie February 9, 2013 at 12:08 pm

Do you have a favorite brand of the Thai red curry paste?


19 Susan Voisin February 7, 2014 at 9:22 am

I use the Thai Kitchens brand.


20 Rachel June 1, 2014 at 8:46 pm

When do we add the stock though? Does it boil with the coconut milk, or get added with the mushrooms?


21 Susan Voisin June 1, 2014 at 10:13 pm

It’s in the first step, with the coconut milk.


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