This tomato coconut curry is loosely inspired by Thai tom kha gai soup. And I mean very loosely.
Tom kha gai – or simply “tom kha” – is flavored with galanghal (a ginger-like rhizome), lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, chili peppers, and coconut milk. Together, these ingredients make a spicy, sour, silky broth that typically houses chicken and mushrooms. You can find it listed as an appetizer on most Thai restaurant menus and it’s just the absolute best thing to warm you from the inside-out on a cold winter day.
I started making this vegan tomato coconut curry at home many years ago in an attempt to recreate my favorite Thai soup. But, due to the struggle of finding these ingredients in my old Russian/Italian Brooklyn neighborhood, I took a lot of leeway and “made the recipe my own”, so to speak. I switched out the galanghal for ginger, the kaffir lime leaves for regular lime juice, and relied on store-bought Thai curry paste to add the lemongrass and chili flavors.
This creamy tomato coconut curry is packed with vegetables so it’s more of a stew than a soup. The veg listed below are my favorite combo, but you can definitely use whatever you have on hand, like cauliflower, sweet potatoes, zucchini, bell peppers, green beans, collards, chard, etc. I also like to add tofu for protein but if that’s not your thing, throw in some edamame instead. This broth would also be great with some thick udon noodles.
This vegan tomato coconut curry is loaded with healthy veggies and hearty tofu.
- One 14-ounce block of extra firm tofu
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil (or another high heat cooking oil)
- 2 medium garlic cloves, minced
- 1-inch piece of ginger, peeled and minced (about 2 tablespoons)
- 1 medium yellow onion, sliced
- 1 medium carrot, peeled and cut into half-moons (See Note 1)
- 1 small head of broccoli, cut into bite-size pieces
- 8 ounces cremini mushrooms, sliced
- Pinch of salt
- One 15-ounce can of tomato sauce
- One 14-ounce can of full-fat unsweetened coconut milk
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce or tamari
- 1 to 2 tablespoons Thai red curry paste (See Note 2 – I recommend Thai Kitchen or Maesri brands)
- 3 cups baby spinach leaves or chopped kale
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice (about 1 to 2 limes)
- Cooked brown rice, to serve
- Cilantro or Thai basil, to serve
- Start by pressing the tofu: Drain the tofu and squeeze out some of the water with your hands. Place the tofu on a plate, then place another plate or cutting board on top of the tofu and weigh it down with something heavy (like a couple of cans) to squeeze as much water out of the tofu as possible. Let stand for while you prep the rest of the ingredients (15 to 30 minutes), periodically draining off the excess water.
- Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven or other heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. Add the garlic and ginger and cook for 30 seconds. Then add the onion, carrot, broccoli, mushrooms, and salt and stir to combine. Cook until the vegetables are just starting to soften, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes.
- Add the tomato sauce, coconut milk, soy sauce, and curry paste and stir to combine – there should be enough liquid to just barely cover the vegetables. Bring to a simmer. Then reduce the heat to low and simmer until the vegetables soften a bit more but still retain their texture, about 5 minutes.
- In the meantime, cut the tofu into 1-inch cubes.
- Add the tofu to the pot and cook for another 2 minutes, just to heat through the tofu. Then stir in the spinach and cook just until it wilts. Turn the heat off. Stir in the lime juice. Taste and adjust the seasonings, if needed. Serve over rice with cilantro.
- The vegetables listed here are my favorite combo, but you can use whatever you have on hand, like cauliflower, sweet potatoes, zucchini, bell peppers, green beans, collards, chard, etc.
- The spiciness of curry paste can vary by brand. Add it gradually until you reach your desired heat level.
- Serving Size: 1/6 of the recipe
- Calories: 220
- Fiber: 3.9 g
- Protein: 10.1 g