Khmer Chicken Soup

I was hosted for dinner by the Ministry of Tourism of Cambodia, where this soup was served. Flavored and comforting, just as a good bowl of chicken soup can be, I asked if the chef would be willing to share his recipe. At the end of the dinner, and despite the language barrier, he did.



1 large onion, finely chopped

10 cm of lemongrass stalk, finely sliced

a large knob of ginger, grated

3 large cloves of garlic, peeled

2 tsp of freshly grated turmeric

4 chicken thighs, bone-in, skin on

4 leaves of kaffir lime

1 litre of boiling water

1 tbsp of fish sauce

1 tbsp of lime juice

1 tsp of palm sugar

1 can of coconut milk

vegetable oil for frying


salad onion



Place the lemongrass, ginger, garlic and turmeric in a pestle and mortar and pound to a paste.

Heat the oil and add this paste together with the onion, and fry over medium heat for about 5 minutes. Add then the chicken portions and coat with the onion mix.

Add the lime leaves and the boiling water, and simmer with the lid slightly ajar for 45 minutes. After that, remove the chicken and let it cool for about 10 minutes.

With your hands, remove the meat from the bones and flake into smaller pieces. Place the flaked chicken back in the pot.

Add the fish sauce, lime juice and sugar and bring the soup back to the boil. Reduce the heat, add the coconut milk and simmer for 10 minutes. Check the seasoning and add more salt or sugar as required.

Serve the soup hot, garnished with salad onion and coriander.

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Photographer, Stylist
Baking, Cooking
Photographer, Videographer and Food Stylist, Hein van Tonder is a native South African with a combination of local, continental and global creative experiences.
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