Chicken and Galangal Soup: An Adventure into the Thai Kitchen 


vietnam market

The head chef of the Aqua Mekong, Adrian Broadhead. Photo taken by guidebook author Diane Wolff in Vietnam while cruising from Saigon, Vietnam to Pnomh Penh, Cambodia aboard the Aqua Mekong.This fragrant soup is perfect for eating in the Fall.It  comes to the website courtesy of Guest Chef Adrian Broadhead, Head Chef, Aqua Mekong

This fragrant soup is perfect for eating in the Fall.

It  comes to the website courtesy of Guest Chef Adrian Broadhead, Head Chef, Aqua Mekong

Adrian grew up on the East coast of Australia, mainly based in Sydney. After qualifying as a chef he moved to Byron Bay, a place where amazing local produce and sustainable practices are celebrated along with the stunning natural landscape.

Always passionate about travel, different cultures and being near the water, he landed the dream job of head chef on board the Aqua Mekong, a luxury boat that cruises between Vietnam and Cambodia.

He finds the best part of the job is working with his Khmer kitchen team and taking guests through the many authentic and vibrant wet markets, showing them incredible regional produce and shopping for ingredients to use on the boat.

Chicken and Galangal Soup – tom khaa gai

There are three ingredients you may have to shop for in an Asian market, a whole foods market, or a gourmet shop. Coriander root, galangal and kaffir lime leaves. See below for the explanation of these ingredients. Don’t be discouraged. This is an adventure in good eating. The soup is light, nutritious and well worth the effort.

Prep Time: 10 minutes    Cook time:    25 minutes    Level: Medium


  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 cup coconut cream
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon palm sugar (or brown sugar)
  • 2 stalks lemongrass – only the soft inner core
  • 3 sliced shallots
  • 2 coriander roots
  • 10 slices galangal
  • 3 kaffir lime leaves – stem removed
  • 3 oz. straw or oyster mushrooms
  • 4 oz. skinless, boneless chicken breast – sliced
  • 2-3 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon coriander leaves

To bruise an ingredient in cooking means to partially crush it in order to release its flavor. This is usually done with the flat blade of a knife. The lemongrass, lime leaves, coriander roots, galangal, then place in a pot with the stock and bring to the simmer, cook for a few minutes to release the aromas.

Season with salt and sugar then add mushrooms and chicken and gently simmer for about ten minutes, until the chicken is done. Remove from heat and add the coriander leaves.

Allow the soup to cool and fish out the spices and leaves with a mesh spider.

The reason for this step is that you do not want all the spices in the puree.

For the Puree

Add cooled soup to the flat-bottomed pitcher of your blender.

Puree till completely smooth then pour back into the warm pot through a sieve.

Add the coconut cream and coconut milk, fish sauce and lime juice, whisk together and heat through for another 2 minutes before serving. Serve warm but not too hot for the swallow.