"Maybe next time just follow the recipe" Khao Soi Coconut Curry Noodle Soup

So I recently started subscribing to Food & Wine magazine, and last week read this article that made me really, really want a coconut curry noodle soup. I kept thinking about it, since I (thought) I had all the ingredients I needed, and finally I decided to take a break from homework and create this dish I’d been drooling over. I found a recipe for the dish on Recipezaar and set about making it, only to realize I didn’t have the requisite red curry paste. Hmm, what’s an amateur foodie to do? Naturally, I substituted extra curry powder for the curry paste, in the same quantity called for. As it turned out, this was a huge mistake. The soup was overpoweringly curry-y (yes, I just invented that word.) The delicate coconut, chicken and scallion flavors were completely overwhelmed by the massive shock of curry. So folks, do as I say and not as I do. Follow the recipe. It looks like a lot of ingredients but it’s really quite simple and fast once you gather them all from the depths of your cabinets and refrigerator drawers.

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 2 tbsp red curry paste or panang curry paste
  • 3/4 lb boneless chicken (I used tenders because it’s what I keep in the freezer, but thighs would also be delicious if you prefer dark meat), cut into bite sized chunks
  • 2 cups unsweetened coconut milk. I used the Organic Light coconut milk – eliminates the guilt factor of this soup.
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 tsp ground turmeric or curry powder
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • Salt to taste
  • Assorted vegetables as desired. I used some sliced zucchini, yellow squash and red pepper from the freezer, left over from the ratatouille the week before.
  • 2 tbsp fresh squeezed lime juice
  • 1 lb noodles – I used round udon because they sold it at my local store. You could improvise as you’d like.
  • 1/3 c. coarsely chopped shallot – I omitted this, didn’t have any.
  • 1/3 cup coarsely chopped cilantro (leave this out if you are like me and loathe cilantro)
  • 1/3 cup thinly sliced scallions


  1. Put water on to boil for your noodles.
  2. Heat the vegetable oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat, and then add the garlic. Toss well and add the red curry paste, mashing and stirring to soften it in the oil, about 1 minute. Add the chicken and cook 1 to 2 minutes, tossing now and then to brown it evenly and mix it with the curry paste.
  3. Add the coconut milk, chicken broth, turmeric, soy sauce, sugar, salt and any additional vegetables you desire, and stir well. Bring to a gentle boil and adjust heat to maintain a lively simmer. Cook about 10 minutes until meat is cooked through. At this point, add the noodles to the boiling water. Make sure you set a timer to drain and rinse the noodles when their time in the bathtub is up.
  4. Stir in lime juice, remove from heat, and stir in noodles.
  5. Sprinkle each serving with shallots, scallions and cilantro if you’re into that sort of thing.
The almost-finished soup, simmering away. Deceptively pretty.

***Update: I re-made the soup using green curry paste instead of red, and the correct amount of curry powder, with tofu instead of chicken. For vegetables, I used sliced baby bella mushrooms and a few handfuls of spinach. It was MUCH improved. Make sure you taste it for seasoning before you serve it – it may need salt.


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