slow cooker Tom Kha Gai (Thai coconut soup)

It’s been ages, it seems, since I last used my slow cooker.  I bought it to have while my kitchen was being remodeled, but as soon as the stove was back in business, it was stashed away.  This is partly due to my semi-irrational fear that a slow cooker is not trustworthy enough to be left unattended.  Kinda like me around a bottle of Riesling or a jar of Nutella.

This soup is the result of the crock pot’s recent resurrection.  Flavorful and comforting, it practically made itself.  I could definitely get used to meals doing that more often.  Enjoy!


Materials (makes about 2.5 quarts)

3 14-oz. cans coconut milk (I used 1 can regular, and 2 cans “lite”)
4 cups vegetable broth
1 pound firm tofu, cubed
1 large lemongrass stalk, chopped into 1-inch pieces
2 Tbsp ginger, freshly grated
3 Tbsp fresh lime juice
2 tsp curry paste (I used Thai and True’s yellow curry paste)
3 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp brown sugar
8 ounces mushrooms, sliced
3-4 Tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped
salt or soy sauce to taste



1. Place all ingredients, except the fresh cilantro and mushrooms, into the slow cooker, and cook on high for 3-4 hours, or on low for 6-7.

2. Add the mushrooms during the last 20 minutes of cooking, and top with cilantro when serving.


  1. foodskop says:

    Does the tofu become tough after you cook it for 4-5 hours in the slow cooker?

  2. Lola says:

    I experienced just the opposite- started out with firm tofu, which softened a bit from sitting in the liquid. :)

  3. Pritha says:

    Can I use chicken instead of tofu?

  4. Lola says:

    Definitely! I would still cut it into smaller pieces (or strips), and add it at the beginning of the cooking process.

  5. Eryn says:

    Loved this! I didn’t put the sugar and nobody noticed and didn’t seem like something was missing.

  6. Lola says:

    Oh, wonderful! Thanks so much for your feedback, Eryn!

  7. m says:

    Thank you for posting a veggie recipe!!!

    Tofu can cook for 6-7 hours on low without turning into mush??

    Thank you!

  8. Jared says:

    Is the lemon grass edible after cooking or should it be removed before serving?

  9. Lola says:

    The lemongrass is edible after cooking, but you can also remove it prior to serving.

  10. Holli says:

    Tom kha gai is chicken thai coconut soup. Your recipe is called tom kha taohu.

  11. Ashley says:

    I made this tonight for my housemates and it was DELICIOUS! It tastes so healthy too. I wasn’t even sick and I felt better after eating it.

    Since I couldn’t find a store bought curry paste with a kosher symbol, I made mine own from this recipe on Pinterest.

    I was also able to adjust amounts to make it more or less spicy as we desired. This soup turned out to be better than I’ve had in restaurants.

    Thanks. I’ll definitely make it again. Yum!

  12. Maureen says:

    Could this be made with noodles?

    • Lola says:

      Probably. I haven’t used noodles in this recipe, but I imagine it would be a nice addition. Great idea! Let me know if you try it. :)

  13. Lorenza says:

    I notice in the pic that there’s orangey-red oil in the soup. Making it myself though via your recipe there is none. What is that?

    • Lola says:

      The curry paste I use contains rice bran oil in it, and it’s that color, so what most likely happened is some separation by the time I captured that picture.

  14. AJ says:

    Can I use tom yum paste instead of curry paste

  15. Rhonda says:

    Where can I find Lemongrass?

    • Cheryl says:

      I am making this right now! Rhonda, I found lemongrass at the Asian market by my house, but I’m sure Whole Foods or someplace similar carries it.

      • Rhonda says:

        Thank you. Found it at Whole Foods. Going to try it for dinner tonight. I will be using chicken instead of tofu.

    • Lola says:

      I’ve found lemongrass at Whole Foods as well, New Seasons (a Pacific Northwest version of Whole Foods), and even Fred Meyer. Most grocery stores should carry it, though. It’s usually in the produce section, near the refrigerated herbs.

  16. Salsa says:

    Can this be cooked without using a slow cooker?

    • Lola says:

      Probably. I haven’t tried this recipe on the stove, but because there’s not much that needs to cook, I’d simmer all the ingredients (except the mushrooms) together for at least 30 minutes to marry the flavors. Then I’d add the mushrooms until they become soft, and finally the cilantro to serve.

    • Stephanie says:

      I just made this soup on the stove using a Dutch oven and it was FABULOUS!! Thanks, Lola! You could also use a large non-stick pot. It was so easy because I just added each ingredient as I rinsed, chopped, and prepared it, while stirring occasionally so as not to burn the milk. I had fish sauce and chili-ginger sauce on hand, so I added a bit of those plus Costco’s excellent jumbo lump crab meat and cooked shrimp (instead of tofu) and a can of diced tomatoes, undrained. When I had added everything, I let it simmer for a bit while I taste-tested until all the favors were perfect. I made this days ago and haven’t stopped telling anyone who will listen how easy and incredible it is!!!! It also kept well for lunches across four days, with enough to share with friends.

      (Fresh Market carries the lemongrass – the only ingredient that was hard to find. Their curry paste is also cheaper than at Publix. The green paste was great for me!)

      • Lola says:

        This is great! Seafood definitely goes well with all the other flavors in the soup. Yum! Thanks for your directions, Stephanie!

      • Shanna says:

        With the shrimp… did you add it raw or cooked and when did you add it?
        Thanks ☺

        • Stephanie says:

          I cooked the shrimp first by boiling it until it turned pink. I’ve been dreaming of this soup lately – SO DELICIOUS!!!

  17. Gillis says:

    Loved this! Exchanged soy sauce for tamari and added shredded carrots and green beans. It was great!

  18. beth says:

    Did anyone else ‘s soup separate? Mine has some white curdles???

    • Ocean Pearl says:

      Yes it does curdle, but you just use wire whisp an it all comes together again. This recipe is amazing!! I added onion, chicken an cherry tomatoes.

      Thanks so much for this recipe!

  19. Alicia says:

    This is so great! I made a few changes -crab meat instead of tofu, Braggs Amino Acids instead of soy sauce and Coconut sugar (the brown sugar substitute kind) instead of brown sugar and it all worked great!

    I loved how simple this was to make and it turned out so good.

  20. Savindi says:

    Hi Lola,

    I have a 5qrt Slow Cooker, so would I have to double all the ingredients when making this soup?

    • Lola says:

      Hi Savindi,

      I made this recipe in my 5-quart slow cooker, so you should be fine. I hope you enjoy it!

      • Savindi says:

        Hi Lola!

        Thanks so much for getting back to me :) . I just wanted to know if there’s anything I should do if the soup separates? I noticed one of the comments that mentioned that theirs had white curdles- it’s just that this soup is for a Birthday dinner and I want to make sure I get everything right :) . This would be my third time using our slow cooker- talk about being a Novice ;) .

        • Ocean Pearl says:

          Hi Savinidi
          Yes it does separate. You just use a wire whisp an it blends everything back to how it’s supposed to be. Delicious recipe!

  21. Lauren says:

    Hi, I’m going to make this with shrimp instead of tofu. Would I need to cook the shrimp before putting it in crockpot or would I put it in raw

    • Lola says:

      I haven’t made the soup with seafood, but if using raw, I’d add the shrimp in the beginning. This would allow it to fully cook, and absorb the flavors of the soup. You could also slightly cook the shrimp on the side, and then add it at the very end.

    • Christyeats says:

      Made this with shrimp and they were tough and inedible. Following day, fished out the shrimp and added some new shrimp that were sautéed 3 min. in curry powder and a little salt and pepper. Added them to the soup just after it was heated through (hot, not boiling). They were perfect and the soup was so delicious the 2nd day! Some chopped cilantro and a few crispy onions on top. Also, I used a thinly sliced jalapeño for heat. Fantastic!

  22. Katherine says:

    Delicious! Thank you for the recipe! I added sautéed onion and chile peppers towards the beginning, used a red curry paste that had lemongrass in it (couldn’t find fresh lemongrass around here), and added a chopped red pepper along with the mushrooms. Would definitely make again!

  23. Stacey says:

    This looks amazing! About how many servings does this make? (for lunch, as the main/only dish) Thanks!

  24. Aymon says:

    How can this be adapted for the InstantPot? What is the cooking time with a pressure cooker? I bought one today and want to try this recipe in it.

    • Lola says:

      I haven’t used a pressure cooker for this soup, so I’m not sure, but I can’t imagine it would need more than 30 minutes. Please share your experience if you try the InstaPot. Happy cooking!

  25. jeannie says:

    Great recipe. I’ve never cooked with lemongrass and the following info would’ve been helpful before serving.

    Cooking with Lemongrass:

    To use fresh lemongrass in your cooking, always cut off the lower bulb and remove tough outer leaves. The main stalk (the yellow section) is what is used in Thai cooking, although I always reserve the upper green “stem” and add this to my soups and curries for extra flavor.

    From here, you have 2 options. The first is the easier of the two. Simply cut the yellow stalk into 2-3 inch lengths. Then “bruise” these sections by bending them several times. You can also create superficial cuts along these sections with your knife, which will help release the lemon flavor. Add these bruised stalks to your soup or curry. When serving, remove the lemongrass pieces, or ask your guests to set them aside as they eat.

    The second option is to slice the lemongrass. In this case, we are preparing the lemongrass to be consumed, adding fiber, nutrients, and more flavor to the dish. You will need a very sharp knife, as the stalk is quite firm. Cut the yellow section of ​the stalk into thin slices and place these in a food processor. Process well. Or, pound the slices with a pestle & mortar until softened and fragrant. Now add this prepared lemongrass to your Thai recipe.

    About Eating Lemongrass

    Note that lemongrass is extremely fibrous and a little “stringy” (more like threads, actually). For this reason, be sure to cook your Thai dish thoroughly. If you are making a soup, for example, boil the lemongrass for at least 5-10 minutes in the broth in order for it to soften adequately.


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