This easy Thai rice soup recipe with poached chicken and soft-boiled eggs makes khao tom gai, a beloved single-bowl meal in Thailand that’s eaten any time one is in need of comfort, nourishment or a hangover cure or prevention – whether it’s breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner, or supper. We’re sharing it as part of our Weekend Eggs series.
It may be a cinch to make, but this Thai rice soup recipe creates a sublime rice soup if you’re a lover of the Southeast Asian style rice soups and rice porridges that are enjoyed for breakfast or brunch, a snack or lunch, or even for dinner if you’re feeling under the weather, or supper if you’re seeking to prevent a hangover.
In contrast to a Thai rice porridge or jok, the Thai-Chinese take on congee, which is made with broken rice from scratch and simmered for hours – traditionally it was cooked overnight on charcoal – rice soup or khao tom can be made fresh or with leftover rice cooked in stock. We’ve gone with that latter option.
I make a stock from the water the chicken has been poached in then simmer leftover rice in that aromatic stock, then top the rice soup with the shredded poached chicken, along with soft-boiled eggs with runny yolks, a sprinkle of sliced scallions and crispy fried onions, and sliced chillies to add some heat.
This Thai rice soup recipe is the latest recipe in our Weekend Eggs series of quintessential eggs dishes from around the world. If you’re visiting us for the first time, we started Weekend Eggs back in 2010 when we launched Grantourismo with a yearlong global grand tour aimed at promoting slow, local and experiential travel, more sustainable, ethical, engaging, and immersive forms of travel.
We spent two weeks in each destination, staying in apartment rentals and holiday homes to get an insight into how locals lived their lives, and in each place we settled into, we explored the local food, connected with local cooks and chefs, and learnt to cook local specialties. We shared those in a series called The Dish, for which Terence learnt to cook a quintessential dish of each place, and in our Weekend Eggs series, for which Terence cooked local breakfast eggs dishes. We rebooted that series last year.
If you’re an eggs lover and particularly a lover of breakfast eggs dishes, do dig into our Weekend Eggs archive (link above) for inspiration and ideas or browse our collections of our 21 best breakfast recipes of 2021 and our all-time 12 most popular Weekend Eggs recipes in 12 years of Grantourismo, which we compiled as part of Grantourismo’s 12th birthday celebrations.
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Thai Rice Soup Recipe with Poached Chicken and Soft Boiled Eggs for Khao Tom Gai
I’ve adapted this easy Thai rice soup recipe from Thai food master David Thompson’s Thai Street Food cookbook – like a lot our Thai recipes, as we’ve been using David’s books forever. They’re literally falling apart at the seams, with pages dappled in splatters of pastes, curries, sauces, and soups – including rice soups!
David’s ‘Rice Soup with Condiments’ recipe is brief and versatile, unlike a lot of his very prescriptive and incredibly detailed recipes, which is why I found it so inspirational when I first stumbled upon it and really made it my own.
David recommends starting with 4.5 cups of stock and suggests ways of making that stock. I took inspiration from a recipe for a Cambodian borbor (rice porridge) we’ve long been making, which Terence first shared on Grantourismo years ago, and I created a chicken stock from poaching the chicken, which I then use to make the rice soup.
One of the things I’ve loved exploring during our decade+ in Southeast Asia are rice soups/porridges and the similarities and differences between them. Like a lot of Southeast Asian dishes, it’s a bit of ‘same same but different’ when it comes to rice porridges and rice soups.
We’ve shared a lot of Cambodian rice soups and Cambodian congees (rice porridges) over the years, so over the next few weeks I’m going to share rice soups and porridges from other parts of Southeast Asia, starting with this Thai rice soup recipe for khao tom gai.
Next week I’ll share a Thai jok recipe, made with broken rice, which is much more time-consuming to make than this khao tom gai. I recommend making this Thai rice soup recipe first and comparing the two. I’d love to know which you like best. Look out for that recipe next weekend.
For now, just a few tips to making this Thai rice soup recipe for khao tom gai as it’s super-easy to make, but despite being such a breeze to cook, it’s still incredibly delicious, especially when you get the seasoning right for your palate.
Tips to Making this Thai Rice Soup Recipe for Khao Tom Gai
I only have a few tips to making this Thai rice soup recipe for khao tom gai starting with the rice. If you don’t have any leftover steamed jasmine rice in the fridge, then steam 3 cups of jasmine rice in a rice cooker.
If you’re making fried rice, you then have to let the rice cool first, but there’s no need with rice soup or rice porridge, you can add it straight to the stock.
I create the stock from the water I’ve poached the chicken breasts in, and as we use poached chicken breasts in quite a lot of dishes, I nearly always have a jar of fresh chicken stock in the fridge, which means I can continue to add it to the rice soup if needed.
My Thai rice soup recipe for khao tom gai calls for poaching the chicken in fresh lemongrass, knobs of ginger and galangal, and fresh kaffir lime leaves, but if you can’t source fresh ingredients, you can always use ground dried lemongrass, ground ginger, and so on, as I’ve recommended before in other dishes.
For perfectly soft boiled eggs, see Terence’s guide to how to boil eggs perfectly.
I love to top our khao tom gai with shredded chicken – but you could always stir it into the rice soup – along the soft boiled eggs, sliced spring onions, crispy fried shallots, and a few slices of red chillies, and a drizzle of fish sauce, but in Thai Food, David Thompson recommends condiments and garnishes, deep-fried garlic, preserved cabbaged, Asian celery, vinegar, and soy sauce, so do as you like.
Thai Rice Soup Recipe with Chicken and Eggs for Khao Tom Gai
- 3 cups jasmine rice - steamed
- 3 large chicken breasts
- 1 stalk lemongrass - cleaned
- 1 knob ginger - fresh, peeled
- 1 knob galangal - fresh, peeled
- 4 kaffir lime leaves
- 1 litre water - more as needed
- 1 tsp sea salt - or to taste
- 1 tsp white pepper - or to taste
- 2 tbsp Thai fish sauce
- 4 eggs - soft-boiled following our guide
- 4 scallions or spring onions - finely sliced
- 2 tbsp crispy fried onions
- 2 long red chillies - sliced
- If you don’t have any leftover steamed jasmine rice in the fridge, then steam 3 cups of jasmine rice in a rice cooker.
- To a medium-sized pot, large enough to lay 3 large chicken breasts beside each other, pour in just enough water to cover the chicken breasts, and add the knobs of ginger and galangal, lemongrass, and kaffir lime leaves.
- Turn on the heat, bring the water to boil, then immediately turn to the heat down to low to a simmer. Use a digital kitchen thermometer to check the internal temperature of the chicken breasts and when it reaches 74°C (165°F) in the thickest part of the chicken, remove the breasts and set them aside until they’re cool enough to touch.
- Use a small strainer to remove any scum and impurities from the chicken stock that was your chicken breast poaching water, then add another litre of water, and the salt and white pepper and boil for 10 minutes.
- Put 4 eggs on to soft-boil following our guide to perfectly boiled eggs, then when ready transfer the boiled eggs to a bowl of cold water.
- Add the steamed jasmine rice to the stock and the Thai fish sauce, and stir, add more water if needed, then turn the heat down to low and simmer for 5 minutes or so. If needed add more water to reach the consistency you like and simmer a little longer so it’s nice and hot.
- Use two forks or your hands to shred the poached chicken, then peel the boiled eggs.
- Taste the rice soup and adjust seasoning if needed, adding more salt, pepper and/or fish sauce.
- Ladle the rice soup into bowls, arrange the shredded chicken on top, place the boiled eggs beside the chicken and slice them, sprinkle on some sliced spring onions, crispy fried shallots, and a few slices of red chillies, and serve immediately with additional garnishes, fish sauce, and condiments, such as chilli oil.
Please do let us know in the comments below if you make this Thai rice soup recipe with poached chicken and soft-boiled eggs for khao tom gai, as we’d love to know how it turns out for you.