thai-inspired chicken coconut soup


A garlicy, citrusy, and spicy marinade contrasts with the sweetness of coconut milk to create the perfect summer-style soup

When I traveled to Thailand back in the spring of 2016, I discovered an insatiable love for the spicy, citrusy, and coconut-based soups I ate almost daily. Don't ask me why or how, but anyone who's been under the hot and humid Thai sun can agree that a bowl of ridiculously spicy soup is exactly what your body is craving before making your way down to the beach. Since I'm not blessed with the same fresh and authentic ingredients as when I was in Southeast Asia, this recipe is my attempt to satisfy my hunger for this dish with the ingredients at hand to enjoy in the surprisingly comfortable Norwegian spring sun.

thai-inspired chicken coconut soup


For the marinade

  • 1 Lime, zested and 1/2 juiced 
  • 1 Red chili pepper 🌶, grated
    The pepper's skin will be left over, which should be diced and saved for later
  • 1 Tsp ginger, grated
  • 2-3 Cloves garlic, grated
  • 1 Tbs Vegetable or coconut oil 
  • 1 Tsp Honey 🍯
  • 1 Small bunch of basil 🌿, chopped
    Reserve half to use in the soup later
  • Pinch of salt

For the soup

  • Chicken 🐔
    Either dice 2 chicken breasts, or use 2 whole thighs + drumsticks
  • 1/2 Onion , diced
  • 1 Tbs Ginger, diced
  • 2 Cloves garlic, diced
  • 1 Tsp Fish sauce
  • 1 Tsp Tamarind paste
  • 12 ounces coconut milk, fresh or canned
  • 1/4 Lemon, juiced
  • Salt
  • Dried red chili flakes

To serve

  • 1/2 Cup cilantro, chopped
  • Serve with any style of rice you prefer 


  1. Combine all the ingredients of the marinade together in a small bowl and whisk with a fork to combine. Place the chicken in a plastic bag and pour over the chicken. Let stand for 20-30 minutes at room temperature or up to 2 hours in the fridge. (Be sure to remove 15-20 minutes before cooking to bring the chicken to room temperature)
  2. Heat a soup pot over medium-high heat and add vegetable oil. Add the chicken and sear until golden brown on the outside, then remove.
  3. Add some more oil, then add the onions and a pinch of dried chili flakes, then fry until translucent (about 5 minutes).
  4. Add the ginger, garlic, and red pepper skins (left over from the marinade) and fry for 1-2 minutes until the garlic is fragrant. Then add the fish sauce and tamarind paste, then give everything a good stir to combine the flavors. (Don't forget to scrape the bottom of the pot to remove all the charred bits of pure flavor left over from the chicken 😁 )
  5. Re-add the chicken to the pot, followed by the coconut milk. Let simmer over medium-low heat for 10-20 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked and beginning to flake apart. (Check back relatively frequently since coconut milk has the tendency to boil over!)
  6. Add a pinch of healthy salt, red chili flakes, remaining lime juice, a dash of lemon juice, and some more chopped basil. Taste and adjust accordingly. Plate, garnish with some chopped fresh cilantro, and enjoy out in the sun with a side of freshly-made rice 😎 🌴