Winter heat blast – coconut milk and ginger soup

Winter is the only season when I crave soups. And sweet-sour-spicy Asian soups are my favorite. Their tempting aroma and slowly building heat are warming to all the senses.

Before I went down with the flu I tried to fight its lurking shadow with a Thai inspired soup loaded with ginger, garlic and chili. It obviously didn’t do the job, as I’m writing this from my sick bed, but it postponed it enough for me to go out to see a movie. It’s actually a mix of Thai Tom Khaa Kai and Vietnamese Pho recipes with a Japanese guest appearance – udon noodles.

coconut milk and ginger soup

The base is coconut milk, chicken broth, fresh ginger, fish sauce and chili. The rest of the ingredients could vary. I added garlic this time for extra flu resistance and mushrooms, as I was out of shrimp and somebody devoured the leftover roast chicken breast. The noodles are not necessary, but we all love the thick, slippery udon and the way you can slurp them in good conscience.

The soup makes a light lunch or supper. If serving the soup to kids skip the fresh chili and let everybody add chili-garlic sauce individually. Don’t be afraid of the long list of ingredients – the soup itself is ready in few minutes.

Coconut milk and ginger soup

enough for six

  • 2 X 13.5 oz (400 ml) can coconut milk
  • 4 cups (1 l) homemade chicken stock, or the best store bought you can afford
  • 2 inch ( 4 cm) fresh ginger, peeled and chopped into match sticks
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced thinly
  • 4 Asian shallots, peeled and crushed (or small onion, quartered)
  • 1 lemon grass, though outer parts discarded, cut in to 4 inch (10 cm) pieces, smashed
  • 2-3 red chili, cut in half, seeded and finely sliced (optional if cooking for kids)
  • 3 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 ½ tbsp palm sugar (or brown sugar)
  • 4-5 tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 6 kaffir lime leaves
  • 2 X 13.5 oz can straw mushroom


  • 10 oz (300 gr) button mushrooms, cleaned and sliced not very thin,


  • ½ pound ( 250 gr) big cleaned and shelled shrimp (I use frozen),


  • 14 oz (400 g) chicken breasts, cut into slices
  • 1 handful cherry tomatoes (optional, but adds nice color)
  • ½ pound noodles (optional) – whatever you have at home

For garnishing

  • 3 spring onions, sliced
  • handful fresh cilantro (coriander), roughly chopped
  • handful fresh mint, roughly chopped

Heat a deep sauce pan or wok on medium high, add the first six ingredients and bring to a boil. Don’t worry if the milk splits – it’s normal. If using chicken, add it now together with the fish sauce and sugar and simmer for 5 minutes until cooked through. Add the rest of the ingredients and simmer for 2-3 minutes – the shrimps cook really fast and the tomatoes shouldn’t lose their shape. Check for seasoning and adjust. The soup shouldn’t be too spicy, but rather a balance of sweet, sour and spicy. Add the spring onions and herbs. Serve over cooked noodles (if using) with extra lime slices, fish sauce and chili-garlic sauce to perk it up. Recommended even if you are not about to drop sick any time soon.

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3 Responses to “Winter heat blast – coconut milk and ginger soup”

  1. Leela Says:

    Wow. Tom Kha Gai Udon. This is brilliant. Growing up I’ve had my share of Tom Yum noodles which is very similar to this, except with clear broth instead of coconut milk. This looks very decadent and delicious. Coconut milk-based broth and slippery Udon = yum.

  2. Margo Says:

    I could be running a fever when I was making it, but I must admit it is a great combination:) Thanks for the nice words!

  3. Sylvia Says:

    I love soups too,mainly in winter. This soup looks delicious Love it.

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