Thai Coconut Soup

While the rest of the country is suffering through a cold winter, we Southern Californians have been enjoying mild 70 degree days. It’s incredible. It’ raining today, but for the last few weeks it’s been bright and sunny everyday. Yet I’ve just neglected to enjoy it. I was surprised to read Mai-yan’s post last week because it sounds like she’s feeling the same way I am. I haven’t even been exercising. I’ve gotten myself into a cycle of working, eating, and sleeping. It’s not healthy at all, it’s not me at all, and I’m ready to fight it.

Emily mentioned that I’ve been reading The Happiness Project. I still haven’t finished it because I keep giving it away to people who I think need to read it more than I do. Ha, who am I kidding? Even though I’m not done with it, it’s pretty easy to get the point of the book. The idea is to figure out what will make you happy, and then break those things down into things you can really work on every day. I bought a calendar last week that I tore apart and stuck up on my wall. I also bought those star stickers that we all used to get in elementary school, and now I’m using the calendar as a way to keep track of my resolutions. I’ve only got two so far: to exercise daily (stolen from Emily), and to take my vitamins. I’m excited about it, but I’m only on week one so I’ll have to let you know how it goes.

Though it’s not a daily resolution that I can track, camping is something that makes me happy. But I have to fess up—until last weekend it had been months since I last went camping. Because of Dirty Gourmet, I think about camping all the time, but I just hadn’t been out in a long time. I was starting to feel like a fraud. So last weekend I finally went. I headed out to Figueroa campground in the Los Padres National Forest with Kismat, along with his cousin Ro and Ro’s lovely girlfriend Katie.

I thought about making this Thai Coconut Soup but ended up making a different recipe with ingredients I had at home. I’ll post that recipe after we test it a couple of times. This time, I’ll share this soup that Mai-yan and I made many times on our bike tour. It’s hot and spicy, yet silky and rich from the coconut milk. For a more backpacking friendly recipe, substitute powdered coconut milk and water for the canned coconut milk and use shelf stable tofu.

Thai Coconut Soup


4 servings

Prep Time / Cook Time


Activity Guide

Bike Touring, Car Camping


  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1-2 serrano chilies, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh ginger
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro
  • 2 scallions, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 14-ounce can coconut milk
  • 2 cups vegetable broth or 2 cups water + boullion cube
  • 10 ounce package tofu, cubed
  • 1 cup cabbage, chopped (or any other veggie)
  • salt or soy sauce, to taste
  • 1-2 limes, halved


  • Cutting board
  • Knife
  • Medium pot
  • Ladle or large spoon


  1. Heat up oil in pot and add garlic, serrano pepper, ginger, cilantro and half the scallions. Stir for a couple minutes until fragrant.
  2. Add the coconut milk and broth and adjust heat to medium. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt or soy sauce as necessary.
  3. Add tofu and vegetables to the soup and simmer until vegetables are cooked to your liking.
  4. Garnish with remaining scallions and a healthy squeeze of lime.

2 thoughts on “Thai Coconut Soup

  1. What a lovely blog and glad I found it.
    I’m in the NE and not quite ready weatherwise to go camping.
    Instead I spend my free time scouring cookbooks, notes and the ‘net looking for techniques and recipes that will serve me well for my 2 week camping trip.

    I’d love to try this Thai soup recipe yet wonder if the coconut soup written in the ingredient list is actually canned coconut milk since perhaps it’s regional yet I’ve never seen coconut soup already made?

  2. Ah ha. Good catch – we actually mean a can of coconut MILK! They are typically found in the same section as Asian food in the grocery store.

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