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4 February 2019

Khao Soi is a popular northern Thai curry recipe made with egg noodles cooked in coconut milk and an intensely flavorful curry paste of toasted chilies, ginger, cilantro, garlic, and more.

I have been enjoying curries of all types lately. Immensely. If you’re a spicy food lover like I am – aka “total chilihead” – curry is where you need to be.

Curries are HUGE on flavor, filled with so many wonderful collections of spices and fresh ingredients. You may think curries are HOT, but the reality is that curry can range from mild to incredibly hot, all depending on your preference.

The one thing you CAN count on with every curry I’ve ever tried, however, is FLAVOR.

Like this particular curry – Khao Soi. It’s amazing. Truly. With good heat!

What is Khao Soi Curry?

Khao Soi is a signature dish of Northern Thailand, served also in Laos and Myanmar. It’s a coconut curry soup served with either rice or egg noodles.

Its name translates to “cut rice”, where large sheets of seasoned rice noodles are cut into fine flat noodles, cooked, then added to a creamy coconut broth infused with curry paste and other optional ingredients, depending on the cook.

It’s a heavily garnished curry soup, with all sorts of possible ingredients that, again, vary from cook to cook. More on that below.

For me, it all starts with the amazing curry paste that imbues this signature Northern Thai coconut curry soup with loads of flavor.

Khao Soi - Thai Coconut Curry, in a bowl, ready to serve

There are different ways to make Khao Soi, though this version is similar to Massaman curry in texture and flavor.

I’m making this with a homemade curry paste, though you can use a store bought curry paste – red or yellow, or a mixture of them – if you’d like in place of the dried peppers. You won’t get the exact same flavor, but it will still be tasty.

This recipe includes chicken thighs, as I love to cook with them, though you can use whole chicken legs, thighs and wings as well, with the bone. It’s also good with seafood, particularly shrimp and white fish.

A distinctive characteristic of this dish is the use of fried noodles as a garnish, which may sound a bit daunting, but in reality, it’s pretty simple to do. I’ve included it in the cooking directions below.

Let’s talk about how we make it Khao Soi, shall we?

How to Make Khao Soi (Northern Thai Coconut Curry Soup) – the Recipe Method

Make the fried noodles first by heating the vegetable oil in a pot. Do not let it boil. Add 4 ounces of egg noodles and lightly fry them, stirring occasionally, until they brown and crisp up, about 3-4 minutes.

Set them onto paper towels to drain. You can reserve some of the oil to use later if you’d like.

Fried noodles to top our dish

Next, make the Khao Soi curry paste.

Heat a large pan to medium heat and dry toast your dried peppers, flipping here and there, until they become pliable.

Cool them slightly, then remove the stems and seeds. Place the peppers in a bowl and pour hot water over them. Soak them about 20 minutes, until they are nice and soft.

Next, add the peppers along with the shallot, garlic, ginger, cilantro, turmeric, curry powder, and about ¼ cup of the pepper soaking liquid to a food processor.

Process to form a paste.

You can add in more soaking liquid if you need to.

Khao Soi curry paste

To make the curry soup, heat a tablespoon of olive oil or coconut oil in a wok or large pan. Add the Khao Soi curry paste and cook it down, stirring often, for 5 minutes.

It will darken a bit.

Cooking the curry paste first

Pour in the coconut milk, chicken broth, and add the chopped chicken.

Bring the mix to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through and the flavors have nicely developed.

Remove from heat. Stir in the fish sauce, soy sauce and brown sugar. Adjust to taste with salt, fish sauce and soy sauce.

Khao Soi coconut curry, in a pan

For serving, divide some prepared egg noodles into bowls, then pour the curry soup over them.

Garnish with fried egg noodles and more, then serve! More on the garnishments below.

About the Chili Peppers and Curry Paste

I used dried chiles de arbol and dried New Mexican chili peppers here to form the base of my Khao Soi curry paste, though other peppers can be used.

Khao Soi curry paste

If you can obtain fresh Thai Chili Peppers, use those. You can obviously skip the rehydration step and use them as you use the other fresh ingredients.

Other options include guajillo peppers or California peppers, which may be easier for you to find in the U.S.

You can also skip the step of making your own curry paste and purchase a store bought red or yellow curry paste. Or buy both and use a combination of the two.

I would encourage you to make your own curry paste, however, as the flavors are more authentic.

Recipe Variations

I’ve seen other recipes that include kaffir lime leaves, as well as tamarind. I’ve opted to omit them, though feel free to use them when you add in the coconut milk.

Garnish Ingredients for Khao Soi

Khao soi is typically served with a number of garnishes, and the choice is yours what you’d like to include.

Popular ingredients include pickled greens, diced shallots, sliced red onions, bean sprouts, cilantro, scallions, drizzles of chili oil, fresh lime wedges, spicy chili flakes, and, of course, fried noodles.

Fried noodles to top our dish

About the Fried Noodles

The fried noodles are actually very easy to make. You fry them in vegetable oil whole, uncooked. They only take a few minutes to brown, and they crisp up nicely.

They’re an excellent textural addition to the spicy, creamy soup. I wouldn’t skip them.

That’s it, my friends! I hope you enjoy your Khao Soi! Such an amazing Thai coconut curry! Soup doesn’t get any better than this.

Try Some of My Popular Curry Recipes

Khao Soi - Thai Coconut Curry, in a bowl

Got any questions? Ask away! I’m happy to help. If you enjoy this recipe, I hope you’ll leave a comment with some STARS.Also, please share it on social media. Don’t forget to tag us at #ChiliPepperMadness. I’ll be sure to share! Thanks! — Mike H.

5 from 5 votes
Khao Soi - Thai Coconut Curry - Recipe
Khao Soi (Northern Thai Coconut Curry Soup) – Recipe
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
55 mins
Total Time
1 hr 10 mins
 
Khao Soi is a popular northern Thai curry recipe made with egg noodles cooked in coconut milk and an intensely flavorful curry paste of toasted chilies, ginger, cilantro, garlic, and more.
Course: Main Course, Soup
Cuisine: Thai
Keyword: curry, recipe, soup, spicy
Servings: 8
Calories: 494 kcal
Ingredients
FOR THE KHAO SOI CURRY PASTE
  • 8 dried chiles de arbol
  • 2 dried New Mexico peppers
  • 1 large shallot chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic chopped
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh ginger
  • ½ cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 teaspoons ground turmeric
  • 2 teaspoons yellow curry powder
FOR THE CURRY SOUP
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil or coconut oil
  • 2 14- ounce cans coconut milk
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1.5 pounds chicken thighs chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon palm sugar or use light brown sugar
  • 12 ounces egg noodles prepared
  • Salt to taste
FOR THE FRIED NOODLES (if serving)
  • 4 ounces egg noodles
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • Pinch of salt
FOR SERVING/GARNISH: Chopped cilantro, spicy chili flakes, fried noodles (see below), lime wedges, red onion slices (for other options, see the discussion above)
Instructions
  1. Make the fried noodles first by heating the vegetable oil in a pot. Do not let it boil. Add the 4 ounces of egg noodles and lightly fry them, stirring occassionally, until they brown and crisp up, about 3-4 minutes. Set them onto paper towels to drain. You can reserve some of the oil to use later if you’d like.
FOR THE KHAO SOI CURRY PASTE
  1. Heat a large pan to medium heat and dry toast the dried peppers, flipping here and there, until they become pliable. Cool them slightly, then remove the stems and seeds. Place the peppers in a bowl and pour hot water over them. Soak them about 20 minutes, until they are nice and soft.
  2. Add the peppers along with the shallot, garlic, ginger, cilantro, turmeric, curry powder, and about ¼ cup of the pepper soaking liquid to a food processor. Process to form a paste. You can add in more soaking liquid if you need to.
FOR THE KHAO SOI CURRY SOUP
  1. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil or coconut oil in a wok or large pan. Add the curry Khao Soi curry paste and cook it down, stirring often, for 5 minutes. It will darken a bit.
  2. Pour in the coconut milk, chicken broth, and add the chopped chicken. Bring the mix to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through and the flavors have nicely developed.
  3. Remove from heat. Stir in the fish sauce, soy sauce and brown sugar. Adjust to taste with salt, fish sauce and soy sauce.
TO SERVE
  1. Divide the prepared egg noodles into bowls, then pour the curry soup over them.
  2. Garnish and serve!
Recipe Notes

Heat Factor: Medium-Hot. You can use fewer chiles de arbol if you’d like to mellow it out a bit. Go with extra spicy chili flakes for a hotter version.

Nutrition Facts
Khao Soi (Northern Thai Coconut Curry Soup) – Recipe
Amount Per Serving
Calories 494 Calories from Fat 198
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 22g 34%
Saturated Fat 14g 70%
Cholesterol 128mg 43%
Sodium 920mg 38%
Potassium 602mg 17%
Total Carbohydrates 46g 15%
Dietary Fiber 2g 8%
Sugars 2g
Protein 26g 52%
Vitamin A 5.8%
Vitamin C 7.5%
Calcium 5%
Iron 24.2%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Khao Soi (Northern Thai Coconut Curry Soup) - Khao Soi is a popular northern Thai curry recipe made with egg noodles cooked in coconut milk and an intensely flavorful curry paste of toasted chilies, ginger, cilantro, garlic, and more. #ThaiFood #CoconutCurry #Spicy

9 comments


  1. I’ve never heard of khao soi! I want to make this asap, not only because it looks delicious but because I love trying new dishes! It looks robust and scrumptious. And I want to dip those fried egg noodles in that delicious sauce.

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Thanks, Elaine. The fried noodles really give an extra added crunch factor. It’s a great coconut curry soup for sure. I hope you enjoy it!


  2. Khao Soi is one of my all time favorite recipes! So delicious. First tried this when I was traveling in Myanmar and fell in love with it instantly!


  3. This looks delicious, I’m not quite sure how I haven’t come across it before but I think that’s going to have to change!

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