Basil Lemongrass Chicken and Black Rice Soup, a Thai-inspired spicy chicken and forbidden rice soup featuring galangal, Thai basil, kaffir leaves, and lime. A big, bold, and flavorful dish!
Love Thai soups but not sure how to recreate the flavors at home? This Thai-inspired* simple chicken and forbidden rice soup combines the big bold flavors of lemongrass, Thai basil, lime juice, ginger, and galangal for an addictive soup that you’ll make over and over again.
Ready to learn how to make a Thai-inspired, flavorful chicken soup? Let’s do it!
👉 *Authenticity note: This soup is my rendition of my favorite Thai flavors that I enjoyed while traveling through Thailand. While I did attend cooking classes while visiting, I am not from Thailand and this soup is not an authentic Thai recipe. I very much respect the cuisine of Thailand and the Thai food creators that create authentic Thai dishes.
- Chicken and chicken stock: 8 cups of stock and 2 chicken breasts, but you can also use thighs and wings
- Forbidden black rice: Black, or “forbidden”, rice is a very dark rice that is common in Asian cuisines
- Lemongrass: A root vegetable with a very distinctive taste that is used in many Thai dishes (watch this video to learn how to cut lemongrass)
- Galangal: A root vegetable similar to ginger that is used in Asian cuisines
- Thai basil leaves: Thai basil leaves are a cousin to traditional basil, with a light and fresh taste. Can be found in most grocery stores.
- Ginger, garlic, onion, chilis, carrot: whole ginger root, garlic cloves, chopped white onion, red Thai chilis, and shredded carrot add flavor and texture
- Seasonings: salt, pepper, and a squeeze of lime juice add flavor
- Recommended tools: large soup pot or dutch oven, kitchen knife set, garlic mincer
👉 Where to buy ingredients: Finding ginger and chilies shouldn’t be a problem at most grocery stores, but lemongrass and galangal will likely need to be sourced at an Asian specialty store.
🥣 How to make (step-by-step photos)
1️⃣ Step One: Cook the rice
The first step to making this soup is to get the rice cooking! For best results, follow the instructions on your rice’s package but below are general rice cooking instructions that will work with most types of rice.
👉 To cook rice on the stovetop: Add 3/4 cup rice and 1.5 cups water to a medium pot and bring to a boil. Then reduce heat to a low simmer and cover the pot with a lid. Cook until the rice is soft, about 15-20 minutes.
2️⃣ Step Two: Cook the vegetables
Then add chopped onion, minced garlic, cut lemongrass roots, galangal, minced ginger, and chilis to the pot.
Cook until the onion begins to soften and the ingredients release their flavors, about 3-5 minutes.
3️⃣ Step Three: Cook chicken
Next, add chicken stock, a dash of fish sauce, a squeeze of lime juice, some kaffir leaves, and a pinch of salt to the stock. Then carefully drop in the chicken breasts into the soup.
Bring the stock to a rolling boil for a few minutes to help the ingredients release their flavors, then reduce heat to low and simmer covered for 30 minutes.
4️⃣ Step Four: Remove and shred the chicken
Once the soup has simmer, remove the galangal and lemongrass pods. Then remove the cooked chicken breasts and allow to cool.
Then shred the chicken breasts with a fork and then add it back to the soup.
5️⃣ Step Five: Add rice and serve
Finally, add the cooked forbidden rice to the soup and mix well.
To serve, pour soup into bowl and garnish with Thai basil leaves and shredded carrot. And enjoy!
❓ Recipe questions + quick tips
Black rice varieties have been growing in China for more than 10,000 years, but the rare rice was reserved exclusively for emperors and royalty. A study was done on the 21 types of black rice and researchers found that all forbidden rice is descended from a mutation in Japanese rice, which was thought to be cultivated into the forbidden rice we know and love today. Nowadays it has become a foodie fixture, replacing humdrum white or jasmine rice for an interesting twist on the starch staple. The dark color of forbidden rice comes from the antioxidant anthocyanin, which also gives eggplants and blueberries their dark hues.
Galangal is a root vegetable in the ginger family, but its very distinct flavor is what differentiates Southeast Asian cooking from similar Asian cooking styles. It should be peeled and either grated over soups or cut into larger pieces to flavor broth.
🧊 How to store and reheat
- Refrigerator storage: Store leftover soup in an airtight container for up to 3-4 days.
- Freezer storage: Store leftover soup in an airtight container or freezer-friendly bag in the freezer for up to two month. To thaw, simply remove soup from the freezer to the refrigerator for 24 hours.
- To reheat: Add thawed soup to a soup pot and bring to a low simmer, or put in the microwave on high power for 1-2 minutes.
🍜 More cozy soup recipes
Want more cozy soup recipes with interesting ingredients? We’ve got you covered:
- Pesto Chicken Kale Potato Soup
- Beet Greens Vegetable Soup
- White Bean Kale Quinoa Soup
- Yellow Tofu Curry Bowl
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Basil Lemongrass Chicken and Black Rice Soup
- ¾ cup forbidden rice
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 medium onion chopped
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 2 whole lemongrass roots soft centers minced and harder shells cut in 2 inch sections
- 3 ½ inch galangal root
- 2 whole kaffir leaves
- 2 teaspoons minced ginger
- 2 whole Thai chilis chopped (removed seeds to lessen spice)
- 8 cups chicken stock
- 2 teaspoons fish sauce
- 1 tablespoon lime juice from about 1 lime
- 1 cup Thai basil leaves chopped
- 1 pinch salt and pepper
- 2 whole chicken breasts
- 1 whole carrot shaved or shredded
- Cook rice: Cook forbidden rice according to package instructions. This can be done in a rice cooker, or on the stovetop by adding 3/4 cup rice and 1.5 cups water to a medium pot and bringing to a boil. Then reduce heat to a simmer, cover with a lid, and cook until the rice is soft, about 15-20 minutes.
- Cook vegetables: Heat oil in large soup pot or dutch oven on medium heat. Add onion, garlic, lemongrass roots and shells, galangal, ginger, and chilies. Cook 3-5 minutes, or until onion starts to soften.
- Cook chicken: Add stock, fish sauce, lime juice, kaffir leaves, salt, and chicken breasts. Bring to boil for a few minutes to release flavors, then reduce heat to simmer for 30 minutes.
- Shred chicken: Remove galangal and hard lemongrass shells. Remove cooked chicken, allow to cool, then shred with fork and return to soup.
- Add rice and serve: Add precooked forbidden rice prior to serving. To serve, spoon soup into bowls and then top with basil leaves and carrots, and enjoy!
- Leftovers and storage: Soup can be stored in the refrigerator for up to five days, and in fact the flavors get better with time and the soup is even more delicious on the second day.
- To freeze: Store in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 2 months.
UPDATE: This recipe was originally published in June 2018 and was updated for clarity in November 2022.