Khao soi is a rich and comforting Northern Thailand coconut curry chicken noodle soup that is everything.
We crushed this bowl: just the right amount of spicy and creamy and full of the good stuff. The chicken is tender and hearty, the noodles chewy, the lime so bright and fresh.
Ever since I bought a little package of Thai red curry paste, I’ve been red currying all the things. I’ve done red curry potatoes, red curry chickpeas, and even red curry dipping sauce for fries. I’m surprised that Mike and I aren’t red from all the red curry paste we’ve been eating. I can’t get over how good it is. And really, it’s so much easier opening a package than getting out a mortar and pestle to make curry paste from scratch.
Thai red curry paste is the secret to how flavorful and rich this soup is while still somehow being done in 15 minutes whether you cook it on the stovetop or in an instant pot. One taste and I bet this will be a new weeknight staple. It’s that addictive.
While the egg ribbons and crunchy bits are completely optional, they add a lot of textural and taste contrast too. Maybe if you’re looking to do something new, give egg ribbons a try if you haven’t. They’re really simple but so satisfying.
What is khao soi?
Khao soi is a rich and comforting Northern Thailand coconut curry noodle soup. It’s also popular in neighboring countries Myanmar and Laos. The coconut curry soup base is creamy and packed with umami thanks to red curry paste, ginger, garlic, and fish sauce. Khao soi usually has chicken in it, but it can be found with beef as well.
What is red curry paste?
Red curry paste is a seasoning paste made from dried chili, garlic, lemongrass, shallots, galangal, makrut lime, coriander, and cumin. It’s the base of many Thai dishes. You can make it at home by soaking the dried chilis then pounding everything together. Or, you can buy a tub of it from the grocery store. Red curry paste is incredibly flavorful and a super helpful back pocket ingredient that can level up your cooking game.
I love Aroy-D Thai red curry paste – it has a pretty simple ingredients list: chilis, garlic, lemongrass, shallots, salt, galangal, makrut lime, coriander, and cumin. Pretty much like what I would put into a curry paste if I were to be making it myself. Also incredibly popular is Mae Ploy brand.
Best noodles to use
Traditionally khao soi is made with fresh chewy Chinese egg noodles. You can find these egg noodles in the refrigerated aisle in the Asian grocery store. You can also use: chow mein noodles, dry egg noodles, instant ramen noodles, fresh ramen noodles, or even just spaghetti if that’s what you have.
Can I make khao soi without noodles?
You can totally make this without noodles. Technically it won’t be khao soi, but it will still be a very tasty coconut curry chicken soup. Add some root vegetables, leafy greens, or tofu to bulk it up and if you’re doing keto, use shirataki noodles for a keto khao soi.
Can I cook the noodles in the soup?
Please don’t cook the noodles in the soup! Fresh egg noodles need to be cooked in a large amount of roiling boiling water to properly cook. If you’ve ever had slimy, soggy noodles, it’s probably because someone cooked them in soup. Egg noodles release a lot of starch into the water they’re cooking in so it will change the soup texture and flavor.
How to make khao soi
- Fry the aromatics and curry paste. In a medium sized pot, add a little bit of oil. When the oil is hot, add the ginger and garlic and fry, stirring occasionally. When soft, add the curry paste and fry over medium high heat, stirring, until the oils start to separate.
- Add the stock and coconut milk. Stir in the chicken stock, coconut milk, and chicken.
- Simmer. Bring everything to a simmer over medium heat for 10-15 minutes or until the chicken breast is cooked through.
- Cook the noodles. While the soup is simmering, cook the egg noodles and drain well.
- Season. Taste the soup and season with fish sauce and a touch of sugar.
- Assemble. When the chicken is done, remove from the soup and shred. Add the chicken to the bowls with the noodles and top with the soup. Finish off with lime and cilantro and enjoy!
Instant pot khao soi
Instant pot khao soi isn’t actually much faster (if it is at all) but if you want the easy cleanup and no smells feature of the instant pot:
- Add chicken stock, coconut milk, red curry paste, garlic, ginger, and chicken to the insert.
- Set the pressure to high and cook for 5 minutes.
- Cook and drain the egg noodles while the Instant Pot is doing its magic. Divide the noodles into deep bowls.
- Quick release when the Instant Pot is done, remove the chicken, and shred it. Divide the chicken between the bowls.
- Season the soup with fish sauce and sugar
- Assemble. Ladle the soup on top of the noodles and chicken. Top with lime wedges and cilantro, and enjoy!
Extra toppings for khao soi
The best part of khao soi are the extra toppings. So if you want a vibe, be sure to include these on the side to top your bowl:
- Crispy noodles. The best part! Crunchy, crispy, nutty, rich deep fried egg noodles. This is pretty simple, just heat up a bit of oil in small pot and deep fry over medium heat until the egg noodles are crispy and brown. Drain on paper towels. You can also cut up some wonton wrappers and fry those too.
- Sliced shallots. Sharp and sweet raw spicy heat.
- Lime wedges & cilantro. A squeeze of tart acidity rounds out the flavors whlie the chopped cilantro adds freshness.
- Egg ribbons. These aren’t traditional, but I like making egg ribbons to swirl into the noodles.
- Extra chili paste. Have a little dish of prik pao (Thai chili sauce) so you can add some extra spice if needed
Dishes to serve with khao soi
Khao soi is hearty enough to be eaten on its own but what is life without variety? Here are a few dishes to serve alongside your khao soi;
- Thai Sticky Rice to soak up that extra soup
- Spring Rolls for some crunch
- Larb Moo Thai Pork Salad as a “side salad”
- 2 cups chicken broth no sodium preferred
- 14 oz coconut milk 1 can
- 1-2 tbsp Thai red curry paste
- 1/2 inch ginger thinly sliced
- 2 cloves garlic crushed
- 1 large chicken breast or 2 small ones
- 1 tbsp fish sauce or to taste
- 1 tbsp sugar or to taste, brown sugar preferred
- 2 portions egg noodles or ramen noodles
- 1/2 shallot sliced
- 2 lime wedges
- 1/4 cup cilantro chopped
- 1 batch egg ribbons
- 1/2 cup crispy wonton strips
In the Instant Pot insert, add the chicken stock, coconut milk, red curry paste, garlic, ginger, and chicken breast. Cook on high pressure for 5 minutes.
While the Instant Pot is doing it’s thing, slice the shallots, cut the lime, and wash the cilantro. If you’re using any extra toppings, prep them now. Cook and drain your noodles and divide them between two deep bowls.
When the Instant Pot is done, quick release the pressure. Carefully remove the chicken and shred. Add the chicken to the bowls with the noodles.
Stir the fish sauce and brown sugar into the soup. Taste the soup and adjust the seasoning with fish sauce, sugar, and curry paste if needed, then divide evenly between the two bowls. Finish with lime and cilantro and enjoy!
Estimated nutrition assumes you are drinking all the soup.
Calories from Fat 482