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Khao Tom Recipe (Thai Rice Soup)

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Discover the delightful world of Thai cuisine with our Khao Tom Recipe. Khao Tom, a traditional Thai Rice Soup, is a comforting and flavorful dish that combines fragrant jasmine rice with your choice of protein, such as chicken, pork, shrimp, or seafood. This easy-to-make soup features a rich broth infused with aromatic ginger, lemongrass, and garlic, providing a delightful balance of flavors. Garnished with fresh herbs and a squeeze of lime, Khao Tom is the perfect soul-warming meal that’s both nourishing and delicious. Whether you’re seeking comfort or a taste of Thailand in your own kitchen, this recipe offers a delightful journey into Thai cuisine.

The Origins of Khao Tom

Khao Tom’s humble beginnings date back to when Thailand was primarily an agricultural society. Farmers needed a meal that was easy to prepare, nourishing, and could be made in large quantities. They found their answer in Khao Tom.

This rice soup, cooked in a broth with various proteins or vegetables, provided the farmers with the energy they needed for their labor-intensive days. It’s traditionally eaten as a breakfast dish, warming and fortifying the body for the day ahead. But don’t be surprised if you see it served at any meal – its versatility is part of its charm.

Interestingly, Khao Tom’s popularity wasn’t confined to the farming community. Its simple, hearty nature won the hearts of the Thai royalty too. The dish found its way into the royal kitchens and became a beloved comfort food for the Thai monarchy.

Understanding Thai Cuisine

To understand how Khao Tom fits into the larger context of Thai cuisine, we first need a brief overview of Thai food culture. Thai cuisine is known for its vibrant and aromatic flavors, creating a sensory experience for those who indulge. It’s not just about the taste; Thai meals are designed to engage all your senses, from the visual presentation to the aromatic scents and the varying textures of the dishes.

Khao Tom, a comforting rice soup, is a quintessential part of Thai cuisine. It embodies the Thai principle of balancing different flavors – sweet, sour, spicy, and salty. Despite its simplicity, Khao Tom’s clean taste serves as a perfect canvas for various ingredients to be added, showcasing the versatility of Thai cuisine.

In addition to its flavor profile, Thai meals often feature a combination of dishes served simultaneously, rather than in courses. Khao Tom, typically eaten for breakfast or as a late supper, fits this model perfectly. It can be paired with a variety of side dishes, allowing for a well-rounded and satisfying meal.

Thai food is also deeply rooted in communal eating and sharing, which strengthens social bonds. In this sense, Khao Tom is a dish that perfectly encapsulates the heart of Thai cuisine. It is often prepared in large quantities for family gatherings, where everyone can come together and enjoy this comforting rice soup.

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How to make Khao Tom (Thai Rice Soup) at home

Khao Tom, also known as Thai Rice Soup, is a comforting and delicious dish that can be made with various protein choices like pork, chicken, shrimp, or seafood. Below is a basic recipe for Khao Tom, and you can choose your preferred protein to customize it to your taste.
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Course Breakfast, Main Course, Snack, Soup
Cuisine Asian, Thai
Servings 3
Calories 250 kcal


  • Large Pot with Lid: A large, heavy-bottomed pot with a lid is essential for cooking the rice and creating the soup base.
  • Cutting board and knife You'll need a cutting board and a sharp knife for chopping and slicing ingredients like ginger, garlic, cilantro, and protein (e.g., chicken, pork, shrimp, or seafood).
  • Stirring Spoon A wooden or silicone stirring spoon is handy for stirring the soup and rice as it cooks.
  • Measuring cups and spoons These are useful for accurately measuring ingredients like rice, broth, and seasonings.
  • Strainer You'll need a strainer to rinse the rice before cooking it to remove excess starch.
  • Spatula or Tongs: If you're stir-frying chicken or pork for the soup, a spatula or tongs will help you handle the meat.
  • Ladle A ladle is great for serving the soup into bowls.
  • Small Bowls for Garnishes: Prepare small bowls or plates for garnishes like chopped cilantro, green onions, lime wedges, and fried garlic.
  • Peeler (for Ginger): If you prefer to peel the ginger before using it in the soup, a vegetable peeler can be handy.
  • Wok or Frying Pan (optional): If you choose to stir-fry chicken or pork as a protein option, you'll need a wok or frying pan.
  • Mortar and pestle (optional) If you decide to make homemade chili paste or pound ingredients like garlic and cilantro roots for added flavor, a mortar and pestle can be used.
  • Soup Bowls and Spoons: You'll need individual soup bowls and spoons for serving.


For the Soup Base:

  • 4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 cup jasmine rice (or sticky rice for a thicker texture)
  • 3-4 slices of fresh ginger
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2-3 stalks of fresh cilantro, including stems
  • 1-2 stalks of fresh lemongrass, smashed and cut into 2-inch pieces (optional but recommended for flavor)
  • Salt and white pepper to taste

For the Protein (Choose One):

  • 200 g chicken breast, thinly sliced or minced
  • 200 g pork loin, thinly sliced or minced
  • 200 g shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 200 g mixed seafood (e.g., squid, mussels, and shrimp)

For Garnish:

  • Fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
  • Green onions, finely chopped
  • Fried garlic
  • Fish sauce
  • Soy sauce


Prepare the Rice:

  • Rinse the rice thoroughly under cold water until the water runs clear.
  • In a pot, combine the rice and chicken or vegetable broth.
  • Add the ginger, minced garlic, cilantro stems, and lemongrass (if using).
  • Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for about 20-25 minutes, or until the rice is soft and has absorbed most of the liquid. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking.

Prepare the Protein:

  • While the rice is cooking, prepare your chosen protein. Season it with a pinch of salt and white pepper.
  • If using chicken or pork, you can quickly stir-fry the slices in a separate pan until they are cooked through. Set aside.
  • If using shrimp or seafood, you can add them directly to the simmering soup later in the process.

Adjust the Soup Consistency:

  • After the rice has cooked and thickened the soup, remove the ginger, lemongrass, and cilantro stems.
  • If the soup is too thick, you can add more broth or water to achieve your desired consistency.

Add the Protein:

  • If using shrimp or seafood, add them to the simmering soup now. They will cook quickly in the hot broth, usually in just a few minutes.
  • If using chicken or pork, add them back to the soup at this stage to heat through.

Season and Serve:

  • Season the soup with salt and white pepper to taste. You can also add a splash of fish sauce or soy sauce for extra flavor.
  • Serve the Khao Tom hot, garnished with fresh cilantro leaves, chopped green onions, and a sprinkle of fried garlic (if using).
  • Serve lime wedges on the side for diners to squeeze into their bowls for added tanginess.


  1. Rice Variations:
    • Traditionally, jasmine rice is used for Khao Tom because of its fragrant aroma and slightly sticky texture. However, you can also use glutinous (sticky) rice if you prefer a thicker consistency.
  2. Protein Choices:
    • Feel free to mix and match proteins or use a combination of chicken, pork, shrimp, and seafood for a more diverse flavor and texture profile.
  3. Flavor Enhancements:
    • Lemongrass adds a wonderful citrusy aroma to the soup. You can bruise it slightly with the back of a knife to release its flavors before adding it to the pot.
  4. Customize Seasonings:
    • Thai cuisine often balances flavors with a combination of salty, sour, sweet, and spicy. Adjust the seasoning with fish sauce, soy sauce, lime juice, or even a dash of sugar to suit your taste preferences.
  5. Garnish Variety:
    • Besides cilantro leaves, green onions, and fried garlic, you can also top your Khao Tom with fresh Thai chili slices, sliced shallots, or even a drizzle of chili oil for extra heat.
  6. Make it Vegetarian/Vegan:
    • To make a vegetarian or vegan version of Khao Tom, use vegetable broth and tofu as a protein substitute. You can also add mushrooms or other plant-based ingredients for extra flavor and texture.
  7. Lime Wedges: Squeezing lime wedges into your soup just before eating adds a burst of freshness and acidity that complements the savory broth.
  8. Leftovers: Khao Tom can be reheated, but be aware that the rice will continue to absorb liquid, so you may need to add more broth or water when reheating.
  9. Side Dishes: Serve Khao Tom with additional side dishes like Thai chili paste (Nam Prik), Thai omelet (Kai Jeow), or crispy fried wontons for a more substantial meal.
  10. Adjust Consistency: If the soup becomes too thick as it cools, you can thin it out with more broth or water when reheating.

Variations of Khao Tom Recipe

While Khao Tom’s basic recipe remains the same, you’ll find that there are various twists you can add to make it your own. You can experiment with different types of proteins; traditional Khao Tom uses shrimp, but you could try chicken, pork, or even tofu for a vegan version.

You can also play around with the herbs and spices. Adding lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, or galangal can give your soup a unique and refreshing flavor. Don’t be afraid to add a bit of chili if you prefer a spicy kick.

Another variation is the addition of vegetables. Mushrooms, bok choy, carrots or cabbages not only add nutritional value but also color and texture to your soup. If you’re a fan of eggs, you could crack one into the soup while it’s boiling, creating a delicious and comforting dish.

The Nutritional Value of Khao Tom

When it comes to nutrition, Khao Tom packs a significant punch, offering you an array of beneficial nutrients. This Thai delicacy, consisting of rice, protein, and broth, isn’t only tasty but also a healthy choice.

The rice in Khao Tom is a good source of carbohydrates, providing you with the energy you need to fuel your day. It’s also low in fat, making it a perfect dish if you’re monitoring your fat intake. The protein, often in the form of chicken or fish, contributes to muscle growth and repair.

Depending on the recipe, Khao Tom can also be rich in vitamins and minerals. The broth, typically flavored with herbs like lemongrass and galangal, is a great source of essential nutrients. Additions like ginger or garlic further increase its health benefits, aiding in digestion and boosting your immune system.

Furthermore, Khao Tom is typically low in calories, making it a great choice if you’re watching your calorie intake.

All in all, this Thai rice soup is a nutritious meal that’s good for your body and satisfies your taste buds. Enjoying a bowl of Khao Tom can be a simple, delicious way to maintain a balanced diet.

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Serving Suggestions for Khao Tom

explore different serving suggestions that can elevate your soup experience. Here are some ideas to get you started.

You can sprinkle fresh herbs such as cilantro or mint on top of the soup. These not only add a burst of color but also bring refreshing flavors that balance the rich, savory taste of the soup. You might also want to try adding a squeeze of lime for a tangy kick.

If you’re a fan of spicy food, you can mix in some chili flakes or a spoonful of chili paste. This will give your Khao Tom a fiery touch. You can also add a dash of fish sauce for an authentic Thai flavor, but if you’re vegan, soy sauce would be a great substitute.

For a complete meal, serve your Khao Tom alongside grilled meats or vegetables. It’s also delicious with a side of Thai omelet. Lastly, don’t forget to garnish with a few slices of fresh spring onions for an added crunch.

Popular Add-Ins for Khao Tom

You’ll find that the beauty of Khao Tom is its versatility, allowing you to add in a variety of ingredients to cater to your own tastes. Popular add-ins include proteins such as chicken, pork, shrimp, or fish. These proteins are typically minced or cut into small pieces, then cooked in the soup to imbue it with their flavors.

Vegetables are another common addition. Traditionally, you’ll see Khao Tom served with Chinese celery or coriander. However, you’re free to add any veggies you prefer. Consider adding mushrooms, bell peppers, or even spinach to enrich your soup with added nutrients and flavors.

To spice things up, many also opt to add in chillies or pepper. Some even like to throw in a bit of lime juice for a tangy kick. Garlic, shallots, and ginger are often used to enhance the soup’s aroma and taste.

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Storing and Reheating Khao Tom

After whipping up your own batch of Khao Tom and experimenting with different add-ins, you might end up with leftovers that you’d like to keep for another meal. Proper storage is key to maintaining the soup’s flavors and texture.

Start by allowing the soup to cool down at room temperature, but don’t leave it out for more than two hours as bacteria can multiply quickly.

Once cool, transfer the Khao Tom into airtight containers and store in the refrigerator. It’ll stay good for up to four days. You can also freeze it for longer storage, where it can last for up to three months. Just make sure to leave some space at the top of your container as the soup will expand as it freezes.

To reheat, simply thaw your soup in the refrigerator overnight if it’s frozen. Reheat on the stove over medium heat, stirring occasionally until hot. If it’s become too thick, add a bit of water or broth to thin it out. Microwaving is also an option. Just be sure to stir halfway through reheating to ensure even heat distribution.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is the Exact Cooking Time for Khao Tom?

Well, exact cooking time may vary, but generally, khao tom takes about 30-40 minutes to prepare. That includes pre-soaking the rice, boiling it in broth, and adding ingredients like meat and herbs.

Remember, it’s all about the consistency – you want it to be a nice, thick soup. Don’t rush it, let those flavors meld together beautifully.

Can Khao Tom Be Prepared Using Any Other Grain Instead of Rice?

Sure, you can tweak Khao Tom with other grains.

It’s all about experimenting with tastes and textures. Quinoa, barley, or brown rice could work well. However, remember each grain has a unique cooking time and water requirement.

It won’t be traditional Khao Tom anymore, but cooking’s about creating your own culinary masterpieces. So, go ahead, swap the rice, and let your palate be the judge!

What Are the Common Allergens in a Traditional Khao Tom Dish?

Typically, it might contain seafood like shrimp or fish, which can cause allergic reactions.

Soy sauce, often used for flavor, also contains gluten and soy, both common allergens.

However, keep in mind that recipes can vary, and some versions mightn’t include these ingredients.

Does Khao Tom Pair Well With Any Specific Beverages?

You’re wondering if Khao Tom pairs well with specific beverages. Absolutely! This versatile Thai soup goes great with a variety of drinks.

A hot cup of green tea or ginger tea complements the flavors perfectly.

If you prefer something cold, a glass of crisp white wine or a refreshing lager beer can also be a delightful match.

For non-alcoholic options, coconut water or a tangy tamarind juice can balance the savory notes of Khao Tom wonderfully.

Is It Possible to Prepare Khao Tom Without Using a Stovetop?

Absolutely, you can prepare khao tom without a stovetop. You’ll just need a rice cooker or an Instant Pot.

You’ll cook the rice first, then add your broth, protein, and seasonings. The rice cooker or Instant Pot does all the work for you.

So, even if you’re camping or don’t have a traditional kitchen setup, you can still enjoy this comforting Thai soup.

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My name is Mint. I am a Thai girl who loves to cook and share my Thai food with everyone! Learn more about me here.

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