Khao Soi (Thai Coconut Curry Soup)
There were many epic moments along the way. Yet as a family, we all agree, our time in the city of Chiang Mai, in northern Thailand, was collectively the favorite.
Chiang Mai is a diverse community on many levels. There are pockets of old Thai culture, hip modern shopping districts, ancient temples, and foodie hotspots. It’s a multicultural city with influences from Myanmar and Laos, as well as small nomadic ethnic groups that have roamed the land for generations.
The combination of all these elements has created a unique culinary experience.
Khao Soi – Chiang Mai’s Most Beloved Soup Recipe
Although we devoured many fabulous meals in Chiang Mai, the most monumental dish we tasted was Khao Soi, Chiang Mai’s signature dish!
This classic northern Thai Noodle Soup is packed with complexity and intrigue. It’s a Coconut Curry Soup loaded with protein, egg noodles, fried crunchy noodles, and fresh herbs.
The soup base offers a spicy-tangy-savory coconut taste that complements all types of protein options… Although we like it best with chicken or beef.
Kao Soi is sold in noodle shops all over Chiang Mai. Restaurant patrons sit and watch as talented professional noodle-makers crank out fresh egg noodles at high speed. It is a feast for all five senses.
Yet, even if you never get the chance to visit Thailand, you can make this simple chicken noodle soup at home!
Thai Red Curry Soup For The Home Cook
So… You are probably not going to practice the ancient art of noodle throwing in order to make Kai Soi.
That’s ok. Neither am I.
However, after working on a few test batches, I have been able to replicate the intense exotic flavor of traditional Chiang Mai Soup, in a way that is easy enough for home cooks to experience success.
The red curry soup base starts with a simple process of boiling coconut milk down into a thick paste, to provide a deep rich undertone, and a bit of thickening power.
The only other wild-card step pertains to the fried noodle garnish. You can deep fry extra noodles for the crunchy top, or simply skip this step for the sake of time and ease.
Khao Soi Ingredients Checklist
- Thin egg noodle nests (or angel hair pasta)
- Unsweetened coconut milk
- Red curry paste
- Ground turmeric
- Boneless skinless chicken thighs
- Chicken broth
- Fish sauce
- Fresh lime juice
- Optional Garnishes: chopped scallions, chopped cilantro, fried egg noodles, lime wedges
All the Asian ingredients can be found in most larger grocery stores with a decent “international” section.
The garnishes are completely optional, although I do suggest adding the scallions and cilantro to lighten the flavor at the end.
How To Make Thai Coconut Curry Soup
- Boil the Pasta. Set a large pot of water over high heat. Once boiling, cook the pasta according to the package instructions. Drain and set aside.
- Reduce the Coconut Milk. Meanwhile, set another pot over medium heat. Add part of the coconut milk. Cook the coconut milk down into a thick paste. This gives the Khao Soi it’s unique flavor and silky texture.
- Add Spices and Chicken. Add the curry paste and tumeric. Stir and sauté. Then add in the chopped chicken pieces.
- Simmer. Pour in the remaining coconut milk, chicken broth, and fish sauce. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer to develop the flavor.
- Want to Get Fancy? If you want to top the Khao Soi in the traditional Chiang Mai style with crunchy fried noodles, fry some extra egg noodle nests in oil. Fry for approximately 20 seconds per side.
- Add the Pasta. Stir in the cooked pasta and some fresh-squeezed lime juice.
- Garnish. Top the red curry soup with fresh chopped herbs and crunchy noodles if desired.
Get The Full (Printable) Khao Soi Recipe Below
Thai Noodle Soup Recipe FAQ & Swaps
Khao Soi Protein Options
Our recipe includes chicken. However, in Thailand beef, pork, and even shrimp can be added to the soup base.
If using pork loin or steak, slice them paper thin and cook as directed in the recipe below.
If using shrimp, add them at the end (with the noodles) and simmer for 3 minutes to cook the shrimp.
Where Can I Find The Ingredients?
You should be able to find all the Kao Soi ingredients at most national (or large regional) grocery chains. Especially, if the store has a good international section.
However, you can also find red curry paste, coconut milk, and fish sauce at Asian markets and online!
Can I Make Gluten-Free Thai Coconut Curry Soup?
Yes, instead of using egg noodles or angel hair pasta, buy Gluten-Free spaghetti to add to the soup.
Just be aware, gluten-free noodles tend to break down faster than regular pasta. So if made with gf noodles, this does not make a great leftover.
P.S. Most brands of red curry paste and fish sauce are gluten-free, but double-check to be sure.
How Long Does Khao Soi Last In the Refrigerator?
Store the leftovers in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 5 days.
If the pasta absorbs most of the liquid, you can add more broth to loosen it up.
Can You Freeze Red Curry Soup?
This recipe is best served fresh. It’s not a great idea to freeze it.
More Brilliant Thai Recipes
- Panang Chicken Curry
- Crispy Tofu Panang Curry
- Easy Chicken Pad Thai
- Larb Rolls
- Red Curry Grilled Chicken Salad
- Pad Kee Mao (Drunken Noodles)
- Classic Thai Fried Rice
- One-Pot Shrimp Curry Pasta Bowls
Khao Soi (Thai Coconut Curry Soup)
- 1/2 cup chopped scallions
- 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
- 1 cup fried egg noodles
- 4 lime wedges
- Set a large pot of water on the stovetop over high heat. Bring to a boil. Once boiling, cook the pasta according to the package instructions. Then drain off the boiling water and set the cooked pasta aside.
- Meanwhile, set another large pot over medium heat. Add 1 cup coconut milk. Bring to a boil and cook the coconut milk down into a thick paste that starts to separate.
- Once the coconut milk separates, add the curry paste and tumeric. Cook the mixture 2-3 minutes. Then add in the chopped chicken pieces. Stir and cook for 5 minutes.
- Once the chicken looks mostly cooked, pour in the remaining coconut milk, chicken broth, and fish sauce. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
- While the soup is cooking, chop/prep the garnishes. Get Fancy: If you want to top the Khao Soi in the traditional Chiang Mai style with fried noodles, place 1-2 inches of vegetable oil in a separate pot. Once it is smoking hot, drop 2-3 extra egg noodle nests in the oil and fry for approximately 20 seconds per side. Remove and drain. Then separate into 6 chunks for the garnish.
- Once the soup base has simmered for 10 minutes, stir in the cooked pasta and lime juice. Stir and simmer for 1 minute to warm the noodles.
- Ladel the soup into bowls. Top with chopped scallions, cilantro, fried noodles, and lime wedges if desired.
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