Thai Curry Chicken Noodle Soup (Khao Soi)

Thai Curry Chicken Noodle Soup - surprisingly easy to make, and huge flavor! |

In this monthly series, I commit to cooking whatever is on the cover of Bon Appetit, Saveur or maybe some other food magazine. There’s a reason these particular dishes are on the cover – they’re usually the best recipes in the magazine.

The cover of the March issue of Bon Appetit proclaimed “HOT SOUP!,” and I knew I had to jump right on it before the weather got warm again here in Michigan. And wouldn’t you know it, the day I had planned to make the cover-featured soup, it was nearly 60 degrees in March, and I went on a bike ride outside. Yes, that “outside” is bolded and italicized, because an outdoor bike ride, in Michigan, in March, is pretty rare. It was soul-warming. Then I came home and made hot soup anyway.

Bon Appetit March 2013

I’m so glad I did. This soup had such an amazing depth of flavor. It was so nuanced, yet balanced, and it made it so you just could not stop eating it. I thought it would be really spicy from the chiles, but it wasn’t. It had a subtle background heat to it, but the chiles just added more of a deep, rich flavor than spice. The coconut milk made it creamy and nutty, and the lime and cilantro brightened all of the other flavors. My husband and I just sat there eating it and kept saying “Wow. Yum. This is awesome. That bike ride today was fun. This soup is so good. Is there more left on the stove? I’m gonna go get some more.” That was really the extent of our dinnertime conversation.

The thing that impressed me most about this soup was how much flavor came out of it versus how little work it actually was to put together. While making a curry spice paste may seem like a pain in the butt, it really wasn’t. Throw some ingredients in a food processor and turn it on. Done. Then, you start your soup by just cooking that curry paste, then throwing the rest of your soup ingredients in and waiting 20 minutes. If you wanted to make this a weeknight meal, you could even prep your curry paste over the weekend, and just store it in the fridge.

Thai Curry Chicken Noodle Soup - surprisingly easy to make, and huge flavor! |

I made just a few tweaks to BA‘s recipe, but not many were needed, because this is a stellar recipe. The biggest changes were that I added much more chicken broth than BA called for – I wanted my soup to have a thinner, more soupy consistency than what I got using the original instructions. Next time, I think that I will use light coconut milk instead of regular. This will cut down on fat/calories, and will also lend to a thinner consistency. I also omitted the fish sauce because I’m not a big fan of it. I “spiked” my soup with some rice vinegar and a little extra salt instead. I also couldn’t find “Chinese egg noodles” at my store (have no idea what those are, or what I was supposed to be looking for), so I used half a package of soba stir-fry noodles instead.

If it’s still cold where you live (back to 28 degrees here in the Detroit area), make this soup before it warms up again.

Thai Curry Chicken Noodle Soup - surprisingly easy to make, and huge flavor! |

Thai Curry Chicken Noodle Soup (Khao Soi)

Yield: 3 to 4 servings


For the Curry Paste:

  • 2 large dried guajillo chiles, stemmed, halved and seeded
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1 medium shallot, halved
  • 1 (1-inch) piece of ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro stems
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons ground turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon curry powder

For the Soup:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 can (14 ounces) unsweetened coconut milk
  • 3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 3/4 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut in half lengthwise
  • 8 ounces soba stir-fry noodles (or Chinese egg noodles, udon, or any other type of Asian noodle)
  • 2 teaspoons rice vinegar
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons light brown sugar
  • Kosher salt, to taste

For the Condiments:

  • Bean sprouts
  • Cilantro
  • Lime wedges
  • Sliced red onion
  • Sriracha


  1. Make Curry Paste: Place chiles in a medium heatproof bowl. Pour boiling water over to cover them. Let stand 30 minutes.
  2. Take chiles out of soaking liquid; reserve liquid. Put chiles in bowl of food processor; add remaining ingredients, plus 1/4 cup chile soaking liquid. Puree until smooth.
  3. Make Soup: In large saucepot, heat oil over medium heat. Add curry paste and cook 5 minutes or until slightly darkened, stirring constantly. Add coconut milk and broth; bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Add chicken; reduce heat to medium-low and simmer 20 minutes or until chicken is fork-tender. With tongs, transfer chicken to cutting board. Let cool 5 minutes; chop chicken into large chunks.
  4. Meanwhile, prepare noodles according to package directions. Add vinegar, brown sugar, chicken and noodles to soup. Season with salt to taste. Serve soup garnished with desired condiments.

Adapted from Bon Appetit.

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For more recipes straight from the cover of food magazines, check out my Cook The Cover Archive!



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  1. Amazing post! I’ve never thought of this but it looks so delicious! Can’t wait to try it! 🙂

  2. This looks very beautiful! I love how you garnished it 🙂 I’m vegan so I’ll be subbing out the stock and chicken but it still looks delicious!

    • I think it would be great as a vegan soup – honestly, the chicken bits weren’t even necessary – everything else had so much flavor and crunch! If you subbed some nice homemade or high-quality store-bought veg stock, it’ll be delicious!

  3. curious about subbing red curry paste for a quicker version of this soup, how much do you think I’d use?

  4. Hmmm. Do be honest, I’ve never used red curry paste. However, I can tell you that this homemade version made about 1/3 cup paste. If you were starting with a store-bought version, maybe try 2 tablespoons to begin with, then taste your soup and add more if you would like it spicier? Hope that helps.

  5. I just made this today. It was delicious! I used rice noodles, though. And this –> was a really nice chicken stock to go with it.

    As a side note, I grew up in Ferndale! 🙂 There are tons of small Asian groceries in the Clawson and Madison Heights area that would probably stock egg noodles.

    • Hi Joslyn! Awesome, yay Ferndale! Whereabouts do you live now?

      You’re right – I should check out the market at Noble Fish next time I pick up sushi there. They might have something like those noodles! Or the many places in Madison Heights.

      And oh yes, I’m a BIG fan of homemade chicken feet stock. Disturbing, but delicious!

  6. Love this Lori, I’ll definetely be trying this!

    DjK Junior

  7. Love this Lori, I’ll definetely be trying this!

    DjK Junior

  8. It sure looks amazing!!

  9. It sure looks amazing!!

  10. Lori, this looks amazing. One of my ‘resolutions’ for 2014 is to try curry, something I’ve never eaten before. For this endeavor, I recently purchased six — yes SIX — different curry powders from Season With Spice ( I might have gone overboard a bit, huh?! For your recipe above, did you use a particular curry powder? I have no idea where to start in regards to flavor profiles!

    P.S. I’m sorry (not sorry) for stalking your blog lately. There’s so many wonderful (and beautiful) recipes I want to try!

    P.P.S. There will be chicken legs and wings in my belly tomorrow while watching the Super Bowl. I’m so excited about my dinner tomorrow. HA!!!!!

  11. Hi Nicole! Don’t be sorry/not sorry at all! I’m happy you’re here and digging so many of the recipes.

    For this, I just used a basic madras curry powder. My grocery store sells bulk spices, so I just asked for a scoop of curry powder, and that’s what I got 🙂 Have fun trying out the different curry powders, how fun!

  12. Hi!

    I really would love to make this, but do you think there is an appropriate substitute for the guajillo chilies? I am not sure if my grocery store has them, and I can’t step foot in a Whole Foods or else I will come out with a billion dollars worth of groceries and a pair of Toms.


    • “or else I will come out with a billion dollars worth of groceries and a pair of Toms” – I just LOL’ed.

      Oh geez, I wish I had a delivery drone and I could send you a few guajillos! I have a whole container of them! So, the guajillos are big, dried chiles. Does your store have any type of dried chiles? If you could find dried ancho or New Mexico chiles, those would work just as well.

      If not, the flavor of guajillos is a little spicy and a lot smoky. I tried Googling to try to find a substitute for you, but all that comes up is other types of dried chiles 🙁 I’m tempted to recommend a bit of canned chipotle pepper in adobo (this would replicate the smoky/spicy quality), but I’m not sure how much that would change the overall flavor profile of the dish.

      • Thanks for getting back to me so quickly! I definitely don’t want to lose the smokiness of the chili, maybe I will be able to stop at an Asian grocery store on the way home. My store is great, but fairly basic when it comes to specialty ingredients.

        LOVE your site, btw! I just came across it a few weeks ago.

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