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Khao Tom (Thai Rice Soup Recipe)

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Khao tom, a delicious Thai rice soup recipe, is perfect for breakfast on a cold winter’s day. A steaming bowl of this flavorful lemongrass and galangal infused broth with pork meatballs is the ultimate comfort food!

Khao tom, Thai rice soup with pork meatballs, in a blue-white soup bowl, garnished with green onions and celery.

With each spoonful of my grandmother’s soup, you can taste authentic Thai flavors.

Here are some more Thai soup recipes to try later! Tom yum gai (a hot and sour chicken soup), gaeng om gai (a traditional Isan soup), and tom kha gai (coconut chicken soup). For another Thai breakfast recipe, try khao jee, a grilled sticky rice and egg patty.

What is khao tom

Khao tom is a traditional Thai rice soup, typically served for breakfast. It’s a comforting, savory dish combining fragrant jasmine rice with a clear broth, often with chicken, pork, or seafood. Garnished with fresh herbs, it’s a staple in traditional Thai cuisine.


Close-up of khao tom Thai rice soup in a clay soup pot. There's also a large black soup spoon.

Thai rice soup

This soup is a popular Thai breakfast choice, just like Thai rice porridge. I think it also tastes great throughout the day and even late in the evening.

Some say it’s the perfect meal for when you’re hungover, but in our village it’s more of a remedy for when you’re feeling ill or something for comforting for a cold winter’s day.

Khao tom, Thai rice soup, in a wooden ladle over a clay pot.

Khao tom moo is surprisingly easy to make. Jasmine rice is added to a fragrant simmering broth along with your choice of protein: chicken, pork, shrimp, or fish.

Fragrant herbs like lemongrass, galangal, and kaffir lime leaves flavor the soup and infuse it with a unique herbal-like aroma.

Thai rice soup served in a patterned bowl with chopped green onions and pork meatballs.

This Thai soup comes in many delightful variations, with many households having their own unique methods of preparation and recipes.

For a vegetarian rice soup, some like to add egg or tofu, but in my family, we love it with tender pork meatballs.

A hand adding pork meatballs to a bubbling soup pot.

To me, this Thai soup with rice is more than just Thai food, it’s a collection of memories from my childhood. My grandmother would prepare this soup for me before school or whenever I fell ill, just like this Thai vegetable soup.

This classic Thai rice soup recipe is perfect to warm you up on a chilly day or whenever you’re craving a taste of authentic Asian cuisine.

Top-down view of Thai khao tom rice soup with pork meatballs, garnished with green onions and celery.

Here are 2 more of my favorite soups you can make after this: tom yum kung (spicy Thai shrimp soup) and Thai bamboo soup.

Why try this recipe

  • Great for any time of the day: This lemongrass rice soup can be enjoyed any time of the day and even as a late-night snack. Tip: Leftovers can be enjoyed cold or warm.
  • Family recipe for khao tom: Family recipes are always great, and this one is my grandmother’s pride. With each spoonful, you’ll experience the taste of authentic Thai cuisine.
  • Easy to customize: Add extra protein for more nutrition and health benefits. Chicken, pork, shrimp, tofu, anything works. A mix of different meats and seafood is another possibility.
  • It’s easy to make: Everyone likes recipes that are easy to make, and this soup recipe is just that. Whether you’re a chef or just starting out, with the step-by-step instructions, you can whip up a steaming bowl of goodness with little effort.
  • Crowd-pleaser: By making this soup, your family might create your own heartwarming memories and traditions, as we have in my family.
Thai rice soup, khao tom, with minced pork meatballs in a blue and white soup bowl, garnished with green onions and celery.

Ingredients

Ingredients can be sourced at Asian grocery stores and Asian markets.
The exact measurements are in the recipe card at the end of this post.


Ingredients for khao tom soup labeled: Salt, celery, green onions, garlic, coriander root, bouillon cube, jasmine rice, water, minced pork, soy sauce, and white pepper.
  • Water – The base of the soup, melding all the flavors together.
  • Bouillon cube – Enhances the broth flavor.
  • Ground pork – Roll these into meatballs. Pork meatballs enrich the broth and add a meaty texture to the soup. For a vegetarian rice soup, simply omit the pork. To make khao tom gai, simply sub the pork with chicken.
  • Rice – Fragrant jasmine rice is a key ingredient in this khao tom recipe.
  • Light soy sauce – Adds umami and a touch of saltiness.
  • White pepper – Adds a subtle hint of spice.
  • Garlic – Adds aroma and depth.
  • Salt – Enhances the taste and balances the flavors.
  • Green onions, celery – Provides a refreshing flavor and a great garnish.
  • Coriander root – Infuses the broth with a herbal taste and aroma.
  • Oil – Use a neutral oil like as sunflower oil or vegetable oil.

How to make khao tom moo

This delicious khao tom recipe comes together with little effort. First, we’ll make a base of pounded coriander root and garlic. Then, we’ll stir-fry the rice into the pounded mixture, which gives the rice extra flavor. Lastly, we’ll make the soup broth.

Close-up of pounded garlic, coriander root, and black peppercorns in a granite mortar.

Step 1. Pound garlic and coriander root with a mortar and pestle.

Close-up of fried garlic and coriander root in a pan.

Step 2. Heat a wok or skillet over medium heat, add oil and fry the garlic and coriander root mixture.

Rice being fried in a wok.

Step 3. When the garlic is golden and fragrant, add white pepper and white rice. Toss and mix for approx 30 seconds.

Water in a pot with bouillon cube and pepper.

Step 4. Place your soup pot over medium heat and add water, bouillon cube, salt, and light soy sauce.

Step 5. Bring to a boil and add the rice. Close the soup pot lid and let boil for 10 minutes.

A clay soup pot with boiling broth, and a hand adding pork meatballs to it with the help of a wooden spoon.

Step 6. Add celery and the pork meatballs 1 by 1 to ensure they don’t clump together. Cook for 5 more minutes, or until the pork meatballs float to the surface. Serve immediately and garnish with fresh green onions.

Noodle soup next? Try khao piak sen, a Lao noodle soup, or chicken khao soi!

How to serve Thai pork and rice soup

Scoop a generous portion of the soup into individual bowls. Make sure to add broth, rice, and meat. Sometimes a soft boiled egg (kai luak), is added to the soup. Add toppings and garnishes such as chopped green onions, cilantro, fried garlic, chilies, a lime wedge, a dash of white pepper, fresh lime juice, Thai chili flakes, etc.

Optionally, you can serve this rice meal with a side-dish or fresh vegetables and boiled eggs.

How to store Thai meatball soup

Allow the soup to cool down to room temperature and transfer it to an airtight container. Store in your fridge for up to 3 days.

To freeze: I suggest dividing your meal into individual portions and transferring to freezer-safe containers or bags. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight and reheat on the stove top or use a microwave.

Fun fact

  • Thai cuisine is so versatile, with many variations of dishes. One dish that’s pretty similar to this recipe is “jok” or Thai congee. It’s a creamy and comforting rice porridge.

Frequently asked questions

What is khao tom?

Khao tom is a traditional Thai rice soup made with a healthy broth of rice, a protein such as chicken, pork, shrimp, or fish, and fragrant herbs and spices like lemongrass and galangal. It’s a comforting dish that can be eaten for breakfast, throughout the day, or as a late snack.

Can I make this in advance?

Yes, you can simply cook the soup in advance and store it in your fridge. Reheat the soup over low-medium heat on the stovetop or use the microwave.

Can I make this vegetarian?

Yes, you can make a vegetarian khao tom. Simply replace the meat with tofu.

Is khao tom spicy?

No, khao tom is not a spicy soup. If you want to make it spicy, you can add fresh chili slices or garnish with dried chili flakes.

What is khao tom in English?

“Khao tom” (ข้าวต้ม) directly translates to “rice boiling”, so it means “boiled rice” or “rice soup” in English.

Where does khao tom come from?

Khao tom is a traditional Thai rice soup that originates from Thailand. It’s enjoyed by Thai people as a comforting meal, as breakfast, as a light meal, or as a late-night meal. In my Thai family, we eat khao tom when we’re sick because we believe that rice gives us energy.

More Thai soup recipes you’ll love

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Khao Tom (Thai Rice Soup Recipe)

Khao tom, Thai rice soup with pork meatballs, in a blue-white soup bowl, garnished with green onions and celery. Behind the bowl is a large clay soup pot.
This healthy soup is as easy as it is delicious, made with rice, minced pork, and light flavors.
Praew
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Cuisine Thai
Course Main Course, Soup
Serving Size 4 people

Ingredients

  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 3 coriander root
  • 3 tablespoons oil
  • 1/2 tablespoon white pepper
  • 1.5 cup rice jasmine rice, uncooked
  • 100 fluid ounces water
  • 1 bouillon cube
  • 1/2 tablespoon salt
  • 1.5 tablespoon light soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup celery roughly chopped
  • 7 ounces pork minced, roll up into meatballs
  • green onions to taste, slice into 1-inch sized pcs

Instructions

  • Pound garlic and coriander root with a mortar and pestle.
  • Heat a wok or skillet over medium heat, add oil and fry the garlic and coriander root mixture.
  • When the garlic is golden and fragrant, add white pepper and white rice. Toss and mix for approx 30 seconds.
  • Place a soup pot over medium heat and add water, bouillon cube, salt, and light soy sauce.
  • Bring to a boil and add the rice. Close the soup pot lid and let boil for 10 minutes.
  • Add celery and the pork meatballs 1 by 1 to ensure they don’t clump together. Cook for 5 more minutes, or until the pork meatballs float to the surface. Serve immediately and garnish with fresh green onions.

Notes

  • Use the nutrition card in this recipe as a guideline.
  • This soup can be served for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
  • For a vegetarian rice soup, simply omit the meat.

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3 Comments

  1. When I’m away from Thailand I miss my morning soup. Not been able to copy the correct taste but can now try this.

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