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Thai Coconut Curry Soup

You found it! This is the single most requested recipe in my entire repertoire. Maybe its because the sweet, sour, spicy, salty and savoury flavours of Thailand are one of my favourite ways to fill a bowl. They’re seductively addictive, always well balanced and one of the world’s great cuisines. They’re also easy! This is a very simple dish to make.

Serving: Serves 4

Ingredients

2 14 ounce cans premium coconut milk
1 heaping Tablespoon Thai curry paste
1 bunch cilantro roots, rinsed well
2 chicken breasts, thinly sliced
2 cups chicken broth
1 carrot, shredded
4 or 5 lime leaves
2 stalks lemon grass, halved lengthwise, woody leaves removed
2 tablespoons fish sauce
2 limes zest and juice
a small knob frozen ginger
a handful bean sprouts
8 ounce package rice noodles
1 bunch cilantro leaves, rinsed well
2 or 3 green onions, thinly sliced
a sprinkle or two salt or soy sauce

Instructions

Scoop the thick coconut cream from the top of just one of the cans into a large stockpot set over a medium-high heat. Melt the cream, add the curry paste and stir for a few minutes until they begin to sizzle.
Add the cilantro roots and chicken and sauté until the chicken is cooked through, about 5 minutes.
Add the coconut juice from the first can and all the contents of the second can along with the chicken broth, carrot, lime leaves, lemon grass, fish sauce and lime zest and juice. Grate the frozen ginger into the broth with a Microplane grater or standard box grater. Simmer for 20 minutes or so.
Stir in the bean sprouts. Add the rice noodles, gently pushing them beneath the surface of the broth. Turn off the heat and let stand until the noodles soften, about 5 minutes. Rice noodles don’t need to simmer like pasta to cook; they simply need to rehydrate in the hot liquid.
Stir in most of the cilantro leaves. Remove the lemon grass stalks. Taste and season with a touch more salt (or soy sauce) as needed. Ladle into large bowls and garnish with the green onions and remaining cilantro leaves.

Comments

  1. tina said: On Mar 26, 2014

    Can you make this in a crock pot? Have you tried that before? If so, how long would you cook?

  2. Satsuki said: On Mar 2, 2014

    This is so yummy. I make once a week. Shared recipe with many friends.

  3. Karen said: On Feb 27, 2014

    What kind of Thai curry paste was used for this recipe? Green, Red or Yellow – thanks

    • Jeff said: On Mar 1, 2014

      Judging by the colour in the photo – I’d assume red curry paste.

  4. Lee said: On Feb 26, 2014

    I am in awe, how can ANYONE claim that they have made ” this recipe ” when they either leave out or substitute as many as five or more of the ingredients stated in the original recipe !
    If you feel you must omit or add a whole bunch of ingredients, It is Not the same recipe, if I were Michael Smith – I would be some pissed….by all means be inventive but don’t say it’s the same recipe.

  5. tay said: On Feb 18, 2014

    hey sounds good i love this soup i get it a a local restaurant where i live and it’s great

  6. Mary said: On Jan 15, 2014

    Michael, always love your recipes and posts. Last Friday I was diagnosed with diabetes(every foodies nightmare.lol) it would be so helpful to I’m sure a slue of us if nutritional values were included with your recipes. Just a thought.

  7. Diane said: On Jan 15, 2014

    I detest cilantro. Is there something I could add instead?

  8. Laura said: On Jan 15, 2014

    Sounds delish! I have a fish and shellfish allergy and I’m wondering if this will taste entirely different if I omit the fish sauce, or is there something else I can use instead? Thanks :)

  9. carol said: On Jan 15, 2014

    Hey there Mike seeing as how you live on the Island as i do there are some items in this that are not found on the Island or at least i couldn’t find…Tks Carol

  10. Kelly said: On Jan 10, 2014

    I can’t wait to try this! I found all the ingredients except for the cilantro roots. I am making one change by substituting baked spaghetti squash for the noodles. It saves calories and is equally deliscious!

    • Carolyn said: On Mar 20, 2014

      Only once have I ever purchased cilantro withOUT the roots still attached,so when you buy your fresh cilantro, you should get the roots

  11. Jodie said: On Jan 8, 2014

    Good recipe, except that I wish it had more of an exact amount for the lime juice. I guess my limes were really big and really juicy because my soup was waaaaay too limey. Thanks!

  12. Kristal said: On Dec 29, 2013

    Amazing recipe! Loved it!

  13. Recipe said: On Dec 29, 2013

    All of you that are modifying this recipe by leaving out multiple ingredients and then saying this soup is wonderful. New flash, you didn’t make this soup, you made your own soup.

  14. alex said: On Sep 27, 2013

    amazing. incredible, but no indication on when to add cilantro roots. right? i just put them in there in a tied bunch and fished them out at the end.
    less zest/juice and less noodles.

    • km said: On Oct 11, 2013

      “Add the cilantro roots and chicken and sauté until the chicken is cooked through, about 5 minutes.”

  15. Anna said: On Sep 13, 2013

    Should i use coconut milk or coconut cream for this? The recipe says coconut milk but the instruction says coconut cream. Any suggestion anyone?

    • Katie said: On Sep 14, 2013

      If you buy full fat can of coconut milk it has a watery layer and a thick cream layer that scoops out easy for the first part of the instructions.

  16. Jade said: On Sep 4, 2013

    Amazing! Great recipe! Add more curry paste for more spice ;)

  17. Meghan said: On Sep 4, 2013

    Found this recipe tonight and decided to try it out. It is fantastic! I made a couple substitutions as well and added a bit more of some things, but I really enjoyed it. I think I will be making this quite often!
    I also added too many noodles but I didn’t mind the thickened sauce/broth at all. Looking forward to left overs!

  18. Alyson said: On Jul 31, 2013

    Cooked this for the first time and just got done eating, it was amazing! I followed the recipe exactly except I did not have cilantro roots and I used zest from only one lime but still juiced 2 which I thought was perfect. The coconut milk makes it pretty creamy and sweet so the lime really cuts through that nicely. I wouldn’t recommend anything less. I did happen to find lime leaves at Earth Fare, a health food grocery store similar to Whole Foods. They werent in the fresh herb section where I thought they would be. They were dried leaves in a jar found in the Asian section. I used them as I would bay leaves, removing them before eating. It was not as spicy as I prefer my Thai food so I may add some dried chili peppers next time when sautéing the chicken. Great dish!

  19. Nellie said: On May 23, 2013

    I made this soup last night and it was wonderful. Not sure though what to do with the cilantro root as the recipe did not specify. Didn’t have lime leaves, as we live in a small town and could not find it in major grocery store, but turned out great! I will definitely make it again and again.

    • Doeleena said: On Feb 19, 2014

      The recipe specifically says to add the cilantro root when you add the chicken

  20. Kim said: On Apr 22, 2013

    Just made this soup and it is amazing! I did substitute chicken thighs for breasts and fresh cilantro for the cilantro root. Also I didn’t have rice noodles so I broke up some udon and of course I couldn’t find lime leaves. I added a mashed up avocado just because I had an extra one lying around in my fridge. So good! I love it with the 2 lines! Dot think its too tart at all! Oh and I used green curry paste because that’s the one we like the most.

  21. Julia said: On Apr 10, 2013

    WOW! we can’t get enough of this soup! We sub in shrimp for the chicken (cheaper in Newfoundland!)! I share the recipe with everyone who is willing to listen to me!! : )

  22. jongkol said: On Mar 27, 2013

    Hi,everyone i’m thai so english is difficult for me to say or write ,but i want to share something .First,i’m very pround that many people like thai food (me too) I think every nations have their own food that they have pround of it.But I’m not sure what is this soup,you can told me thai name of this soup,please?

  23. esther said: On Mar 18, 2013

    is red curry paste okay to use?

  24. Girl said: On Mar 3, 2013

    Thanks for this fabulous recipe! Husband said it was “restaurant quality”. Mine wasn’t as pretty as the picture, though — it looked like clam chowder during prep, and the leftovers look like turkey tetrazzini. Tastes amazing, though :)

  25. Anne said: On Feb 22, 2013

    Would red miso be an adequate substitute for fish sauce?

    • Amanda said: On Mar 1, 2013

      that is wayyy too much coconut milk for a soup, if you are making curry itself then yes but this is going overboard!

    • Karen said: On Mar 2, 2013

      No, I would not sub red miso for fish sauce. It’s very different. Fish sauce is very salty. I think a good sub would be soy sauce.

  26. drrn said: On Feb 20, 2013

    this was delicious, but definitely cut back on the amount of lime (the lemongrass is a bit acidic, so those two combined is a lot of sour!). I’d also suggest soaking the rice noodles in water before adding them to the soup–the noodles soaked up almost all the broth and I ended up with more of a thai pasta sauce! it was still tasty, though.

  27. Lauren said: On Feb 12, 2013

    Oh wow, if I went to a restaurant and ate this it would officially become my favorite restaurant! I omitted the fish sauce and soy sauce, seasoning with just salt and couldn’t get the lime leaves or the cilantro root as the Asian foods grocery didn’t have any that day. I used chicken thighs instead of breasts. Also went with fresh ginger. The combination of lime, cilantro, ginger and lemongrass in that creamy coconut broth with the noodles was just heavenly. I will be making this one next time I have company!

  28. Carrie said: On Jan 20, 2013

    Very good, especially on a chilly day like today. My changes: I did not use cilantro root, used more ginger, used less noodles per other reviews, used lemongrass in a tube per reviews, would add a little less fish sauce as it was a bit salty, would add more liquid next time as noodles thickened the sauce. I think I would also like to use shredded chicken next time out of personal preference. I’m assuming the lime leaves were referring to kafir lime? That was the only kind I know of (great addition either way). I also was unsure if I should use green or red Thai curry paste (I chose green) as I have never tried cooking with it before. This recipe is certainly a keeper.

  29. girl@bangkok said: On Jan 18, 2013

    I’m not sure but this should be Rice noodle in Tom-Yum-Kai (coconut soup version). Galangal, Kaffir Lime Leaves and Lemon grass are a must for this recipe. Try to substitute any kind of mushroom for bean sprouts and serve with Thai jasmin rice. I know this is a fushion but hope you guys can have authentic dishes in Thailand just once and you’ll realize the difference.

  30. JS said: On Jan 16, 2013

    Really enjoyed this soup, although the recipe as-is is really more like a pasta (not enough broth to qualify as soup in my mind). Next time I’ll definitely cut back on the noodles – by at least half.

  31. mb said: On Jan 16, 2013

    This was really good! Restaurant standards, or maybe even better!

  32. Emily said: On Jan 15, 2013

    Dude, lime leaves apparently don’t exist. NOBODY SELLS IT.

    • Sita said: On Jan 22, 2013

      Dude, kefir lime leaves are available at any good Oriental food store. EVERYBODY sells it (in large enough cities to support a decent store) You can also by it online…

      • Dianne said: On Feb 12, 2013

        I live by Seattle. I have access to large Asian markets. I’m not finding kaffir at all. Produce manage at H-mart says that it is a “specialty item”.

        At least the curry pastes have kaffir in them.

      • Kristin said: On Feb 25, 2013

        Seattle has Uwajimaya near by I believe, and the Uwajimaya out side of Portland in Beaverton has it. they had several packages it’s packaged like fresh chives, basil etc, in the little plastic packaging.

      • Katie said: On May 17, 2013

        I have found them in the asian market on sunset in the Renton highlands. I also think ranch 99 near ikea would have them. I would be very surprised if uwajimaya didn’t carry them.

    • Kate said: On Apr 29, 2013

      I work in a produce department in Vermont–not exactly an epicenter of Asian cuisine. We carry Kaffir lime leaves pretty much year round. And if we don’t have them in stock for some reason, we are happy to special order them for people (though you might end up with a lot more than you need that way). They keep pretty well, so if you cook a lot of Thai-inspired dishes it is well worth it to ask around at health food stores, Asian markets, etc, and find a place that will put in a special order with their distributor for you. Ditto cilantro root.

  33. Ivy said: On Jan 13, 2013

    I left out the cilantro root, lime leaves, frozen ginger, bean sprouts and cilantro leaves. I also used 1 T of lemon grass (sold in a tube in the produce section) and it was delicious! Next time I will cut back on the rice noodle.

  34. Carla said: On Jan 8, 2013

    Made the soup today-yum! Used the lemongrass in the tube, and next time…I’ll cut back on the noodles. Family loved it…a keeper!

  35. Piero said: On Dec 15, 2012

    Good receipt but the amount of line juice and zest should be reduced significantly because its overpowering.

  36. Alicia said: On Dec 12, 2012

    Loved this! I didn’t use the cilantro root, lemongrass, fish sauce, lime leaves, or bean sprouts. but it still turned out great! I added bell peppers, bamboo shoots, extra curry paste, and a bit of onion powder and brown sugar. Should have made a double batch so there would be more leftovers!

  37. Maybelle said: On Dec 8, 2012

    Cant read it – the black on blue is illegible for the avg eye

    • Michelle said: On Apr 30, 2013

      When I can’t read something (like that) I typically use my mouse and highlight the text, then I can see it. But for some reason, mine didn’t show up as black type over a blue background. I have black type over a white background. Strange…

  38. Emily said: On Nov 14, 2012

    I pinned this recipe weeks ago and finally made it tonight…HOLY SMOKES it was so delicious. My husband raved about it and all 3 of my kids ate it (which says a lot, they’re picky).

  39. Emiko said: On Nov 12, 2012

    I made this for the first time today and it is delicious! I do agree that 1 lime would be plenty and maybe using only half the package of noodles. What’s the point of making soup when there’s no broth left? I found jarred Kafir lime leaves and fresh lemongrass at Wegman’s.

  40. Heather said: On Nov 6, 2012

    Insanely delicious. Swapped shrimp for the chicken and omitted cilantro root. Will become a staple.

  41. Holly said: On Nov 4, 2012

    I also misread “18 ounce package of noodles”. My package was 16.5 oz and I thought it looked like too much so I used only about 2/3 of it but it’s too much. No disaster but maybe put a bigger space in between the 1 and the 8. or drop the 1 altogether.

    Otherwise, dee-lish!

  42. Felicia said: On Nov 4, 2012

    This soup is awesome! I made all kinds of substitutions, and still my family and I just loved it. Used shrimp instead of chicken, juice of half a lime instead of 2, no lime leaves,veggie broth instead of chicken broth, and even added a handful of fresh green beans! I am so excited to try other combinations. Thank u, thank u thank u for posting this recipe!

  43. Found this recipe on Pinterest and it is one of my new favorites!! I add more veggies and it really fills us up. THANK YOU!

  44. Erin said: On Oct 12, 2012

    Could you sub anything for the rice noodles? I’m eating paleo.

    • Emma said: On Nov 14, 2012

      Try zuchini noodles as a sub. I use those in a lot of recipes that I switch to paleo. To make the noodles just use your vegetable peeler down the length of the zuchini. They are great. We made a pesto zuchini noodle last night.

      I have not tried the recipe yet. I am going to try and make a paleo rendition tonight!

    • Maybelle said: On Dec 8, 2012

      Our thai rest usually gives us jasmine rice instead of the noodles and it is great that way

  45. Lisa said: On Sep 26, 2012

    Love this! Also used lemongrass in the tube..and I didn’t have sprouts or leaves. Still so tasty…addictive!

  46. James said: On Sep 18, 2012

    I LOVE LOVE LOVE this soup. The 1st time I made this soup I accidentally misread the amount of rice noodles to add. I thought it read “18 ounce package”, rather than “1 8 ounce package”…. woops, that batch wasn’t so good. The noodles absorbed all of the soup. Also, short of growing my own cilantro, I’m not sure where to find cilantro root. But this is a recipe that my family and I will cherish for all of time.

    • MJ said: On Jun 26, 2013

      I accidentally put too many noodles in too! Next time I would use half. I just like the broth so much!

  47. Robyn said: On Sep 15, 2012

    This soup was amazing! The only change I would make next time around is cutting back on the lime juice and zest. Definitely a winner!

  48. Heidi said: On Sep 14, 2012

    Omg, we absolutely love curry, and coconut milk and soup. This is going to be fantastic, and I have almost all these ingredients on hand at all time! Thank you so very much :)

  49. Marny said: On Aug 31, 2012

    Delicious! I couldn’t get lime leaves, but it was still great. I’m sure I’ll be making this again.

  50. GCP said: On Aug 31, 2012

    Just found this on Pinterest and cannot wait to make it! I also need to source some of the ingredients but I don’t think it will be too hard. I used to get Curry Soup from a restaurant and it was DELICIOUS but then I got creeped out by the restaurant.
    This will be sooo yummy and I’ll probably get to eat it all by myself!

    Wondering, though, how sweet is it? When I make Red Curry Chicken the recipe calls for brown sugar.

  51. Lani said: On Aug 28, 2012

    Made this last night. AWESOME!
    Didn’t have lime leaves or cilantro roots, and it was good regardless of that.
    Had to use the tube of Lemongrass that you can find in the supermarket (we don’t have fresh lemongrass near us), and I used 2T of that.
    Used 1.5 T of red curry paste – the flavor of the soup was amazing!
    Thanks for a great recipe!

  52. Judy said: On Aug 20, 2012

    Sensational, made it tonight and it was the best Thai soup I’ve tasted and so easy to make! Thankyou for sharing.. :)

  53. Excellent cuisine. I will try it…

  54. JMBG said: On Apr 20, 2012

    Where will I find Cliantro roots?

    • Jiab/Napaporn said: On May 21, 2012

      I found them at the farmer’s market. Bought quite a big amount of cilantro since they are very hard to find. Then I separate the roots, rinse them well and keep them in the freezer for the future use.

  55. Julia said: On Mar 7, 2012

    Delicious! I have made this several times and it is yummy! It seemed a bit heavy on the lime juice the first time around but by cutting down to 1 lime of zest and 1 tsp of juice it was perfect. The type of coconut milk will made a difference – they are all different, some are more creamy than others.
    BTW – I have never been able to find lime leaves, but I’m not sure that made much of a difference.

  56. krysten said: On Jan 23, 2012

    I used one can of premium full fat coconut milk and one can of “light” coconut milk to help cut fat. This is seriously the best soup I have ever tasted, and it was super easy! Can’t stop thinking about it and I can’t wait to make and eat it again!!

  57. Nelina said: On Jan 16, 2012

    This looks delicious, but I’m curious to know what the nutritional information is per serving?

  58. Kathy said: On Nov 30, 2011

    I’m wondering which type and brand of curry paste do you use? Red, yellow

  59. Tracey said: On Nov 6, 2011

    Mmmmm, loved it. Very easy to make and full of flavour. I doubled the curry paste and added some oyster mushrooms. My two yr old kept saying Mmmm Momma, as he ate his bowl. Will definately make this again.

  60. Julia said: On Aug 17, 2011

    Am dying to try this as soon as the kids are back in school – but where will I find Lime leaves? and Lemon grass? Do I have to go to an specialty store for these? Thanks

  61. Nigitstil said: On Aug 2, 2011

    I always find myself coming back to this recipe on a lazy night in with my boyfriend. Don’t be afraid to go outside the recipe too! I’ve added my fair share of spices and different broths. Always comes out delicious!

  62. kate said: On Mar 20, 2011

    Absolutely DELICIOUS. Cannot believe how well this turned out. Will make it over and over again. A favourite for sure!

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Thai Coconut Lime Curry
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Variation

Thai curry pastes get their heat from chili peppers, but they’re also loaded with other flavours. You may use as much or as little as you like. Yellow is the mildest; green the hottest. Try stirring in a head of chopped Asian greens or baby spinach with the bean sprouts. You may easily substitute beef or shrimp for the chicken.