Thai Coconut Chicken Soup

by Angie Anew on January 20, 2012

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This soup is lovely in winter — warm, spicy and filled with nourishing vegetables. The original recipe from The America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook contains only chicken and mushrooms. While delicious, it doesn’t have enough substance for me. I need more veggies! So I adjust the original recipe to make the base and then add whatever vegetables I have on hand. I also sometimes make it with shrimp instead of chicken.

I hope you try it. It’s easy and delicious!

Adapted from The America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook


  • 1 tablespoon fat (I use clarified butter or olive oil)
  • 2 tablespoons grated ginger
  • 4 to 6 teaspoons Thai red curry paste (I use Thai Kitchen brand)
  • 6 cups low-sodium chicken broth (homemade or purchased)
  • 3 tablespoons fish sauce (Red Boat fish sauce is Whole30 compliant)
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed and sliced thin into 1-inch strips (I often just use leftover rotisserie chicken)
  • Veggies of your choice (I usually do a combination of cubed sweet potatoes, chopped kale and mushrooms; zucchini can also be nice)
  • 2 (14-oz) cans coconut milk (or the equivalent amount of boxed coconut milk, such as Arroy-D)
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • Salt
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves

Step 1: Make a Spicy Soup Base

  1. Heat the oil in a large soup pot over medium heat until shimmering.
  2. Stir in the ginger and curry paste and cook for 1 minute.
  3. Add 1/2 cup of the broth and stir until the curry paste dissolves.
  4. Stir in the remaining broth and fish sauce.
  5. Bring to a simmer.

Step 2: Add Vegetables and Chicken

  1. Add any longer-cooking vegetables (such as cubed sweet potatoes or chopped kale) to your spicy soup base.
  2. Simmer until the longer-cooking vegetables are nearly cooked.
  3. Add the coconut milk, any shorter-cooking vegetables (such as mushrooms) and the chicken.
  4. Cook for about 5 more minutes, or until the chicken is cooked.

Step 3: Garnish and Enjoy

  1. Stir in the lime juice and season with salt. (You might very well need salt if you use Kitchen Basics brand broth, which contains none.)
  2. Sprinkle bowls of soup with cilantro before serving (or just toss the cilantro into the pot at the end like I do).

PLEASE NOTE: Depending on the amount of vegetables you want to add, you might need to increase the amount of soup base that you make. I usually just add more chicken broth to the pot. I only add more curry paste and fish sauce if the broth doesn’t seem spicy/flavorful enough.


Thai Coconut Chicken Soup

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{ 27 comments… read them below or add one }

Michelle cook January 20, 2012 at 7:42 AM

Looks awesome! I’ll be making this next week for sure! I plan to add broccoli to mine. Does this freeze well at all?


Angie Anew January 20, 2012 at 9:36 AM

Michelle- You could freeze it if you freeze it WITHOUT coconut milk and use veggies that work well for freezing. You’d just add coconut milk when you thaw and reheat it.


Kelly January 20, 2012 at 8:54 AM

I love love love curry- I will definitely be making that. I make Laksa soup- very similar


Angie Anew January 20, 2012 at 9:37 AM

I love curry, too! Warms me up in winter. Mmmm.


Adrianne C January 21, 2012 at 8:50 AM

I absolutely LOVE this soup! Everytime I crave Thai food I end up ordering it. Definitely going to give this a try. I use the red curry paste when sauteeing veggies too. The flavor is great.


Angie Anew January 21, 2012 at 9:15 PM

Oooh, red curry paste with veggies. I’m going to have to try that!


Jen McDade January 25, 2012 at 8:08 AM

looks great! hoping to try this soon. Keep up the good work!


Angie Anew January 25, 2012 at 7:24 PM

Thanks! Definitely try it. So good!


Katie May 28, 2012 at 11:07 AM

This looks really good…my only question is about the fish sauce…my Thai Kitchen brand has sugar in it. Are there others that don’t? I know I can use soy sauce. Maybe coconut aminos? Am still on the hunt for that.


Angie Anew May 28, 2012 at 6:56 PM

Ah, fish sauce. You know, I now realize that it’s likely not technically Whole30 approved. HOWEVER, my thought is that if I can eat a whole banana on the plan, a tiny bit of sugar in fish sauce is unlikely to have much of an impact. You know what I mean?


Angie Anew January 5, 2013 at 12:23 PM

UPDATE: Red Boat Fish Sauce is Whole30 compliant!


Jill August 25, 2012 at 6:45 PM

I just made this and it’s phenomenal! Didn’t use kale, just sweet potatoes and mushrooms. The only other change I made was to saute the mushrooms in bacon grease first with fresh cracked pepper. Omg…I can’t wait to eat this for lunch all week. Thanks for posting this!


Angie Anew August 28, 2012 at 7:58 PM

You’re welcome! I love that fall is coming… Soup season!


Buttoni January 5, 2013 at 10:23 AM

This sounds delicious! I make one but mine doesn’t have the lime juice and cilantro. Those additions sound wonderful! I’ll try this out soon!


Angie Anew January 5, 2013 at 10:41 AM

Definitely do! It’s so GOOD!


Jenn January 5, 2013 at 12:11 PM

HI, this looks yummy, but I have never had curry before and I am usually not a spicy food person. How spicy is red curry? To give you an idea of my spice tolerance, chili powder is good, red chili flakes not so much. Bell pepper good, jalapeno never. Ginger good, wasabi no way. :)

Thanks for any help!


Angie Anew January 5, 2013 at 12:16 PM

You can use as much or as little or the curry paste as you like. Start conservatively (maybe even less than 4 teaspoons) and then taste the soup base to see what you think. You can always add heat by whisking more of the paste into a bit of the hot broth and then adding it into the pot. Thanks for stopping by!


Zehra January 11, 2013 at 4:25 PM

This might be dumb, but the chicken breast….should it be cooked or uncooked?


Angie Anew January 11, 2013 at 5:06 PM

I throw it in uncooked, but you could use leftover rotisserie chicken or other cooked chicken instead if you have it available.


DeeRae January 12, 2013 at 6:04 PM

Loved the recipe! It’s cold here in ND, and it definitely warms us up on a winter’s day. Making it for the 2nd time tonight as the picky hubby even liked it last time. I also like it includes kale!


Angie Anew January 12, 2013 at 6:13 PM

Glad to hear that you liked it DeeRae! It definitely is a great recipe for a cold day! (And hey, any recipe that offers a palatable kale-delivery method is a keeper.)


Tram Nguyen January 24, 2013 at 3:41 PM

You might want to use the tom yum paste instead of red curry. Also if you can find a root call galanga (usually you can get it at the oriental market) This make it tastes more authentic.


Angie Anew January 24, 2013 at 6:55 PM

Thank you for those suggestions! I’ll bet I can find those items. We have a lot of Southeast Asian specialty markets around. I will give those substitutions a try!


Steph M January 31, 2013 at 3:36 PM

Just made this soup & it is awesome. I notice u list fish sauce in the ingredients, but don’t tell when to add it. I just put it in at the end, does it matter?


Blue September 1, 2013 at 4:21 PM

During which step do you add the fish sauce?


Angie Anew September 5, 2013 at 9:06 PM

Thanks for your comment! I just added the fish sauce to Step 1, where it belongs. :)


Holly October 30, 2013 at 5:13 PM

I’m so excited to have found this recipe, I have a sick child and thought we needed some ‘brothy’ soup around here and I LOVE spice. I didn’t have fish oil so I poured in Braggs amino acids, maple syrup, half a lemon, red pepper. I used my vitamix and puréed kale, carrots, ginger, garlic, onion and the lemon and sauted it in that 1st step. It turned out amazing! I also had leftover rosemary basaltic chicken and threw that in! Thank you!


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