Recipe: Khao Soi - Northern Thai Soup Recipe

Khao soi is a spicy Burmese-influenced noodle soup widely eaten in Northern Thailand. It's spiked with a curry paste made of shallots, garlic turmeric, spices and herbs, giving the famous dish its signature flavor. Brooklyn-based chef Kanlaya Supachana cooks the curry paste in the soup's coconut milk, giving her version a luxurious texture.

When preparing, rinse the noodles in cold water to stop them from overcooking.

To learn more, read "Khao Tipping."

Recipe adapted from Kanlaya Supachana, Chiang Mai Restaurant, Brooklyn, NY

Khao Soi
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Make coconut-curry noodle soup known as khao soi, which hails from the Chiang Mai province of Northern Thailand.
Prep Time
Cook Time
Total time: 1 hour, 30 minutes
  • For the Curry Paste
  • 8 to 10 dried Thai chile peppers
  • 10 garlic cloves
  • 5 kaffir lime leaves
  • 4 medium shallots, halved
  • One 2-inch piece ginger, peeled and thinly sliced (⅓ cup sliced ginger)
  • One 2-inch piece fresh turmeric, peeled and thinly sliced
  • ¼ cup chopped coriander root or 2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro stems
  • 2 tablespoons sliced lemongrass (½ lemongrass stalk)
  • 1 tablespoon shrimp paste
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • 1½ teaspoons toasted coriander seeds, ground
  • 1½ teaspoons toasted cardamom pods, seeds removed and ground
  • ½ teaspoon toasted cumin seeds, ground
  • For the Khao Soi
  • 3 cups coconut milk, divided
  • Curry paste
  • 2 cups water
  • 1½ pounds chicken legs, drumsticks and thighs separated (4 legs)
  • 1½ cups canola oil
  • 4 ounces thin egg noodles
  • 12 ounces thick egg noodles
  • 2 tablespoons palm sugar
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • Cilantro sprigs, pickled mustard greens, shallots, chile oil and lime wedges, for serving
  1. Make the curry paste: Place the dried chiles in a heatproof bowl. Cover with boiling water and let soak until softened, 20 minutes. Drain the chiles, reserving the soaking liquid.
  2. In a food processor, pulse the chiles, garlic, kaffir lime leaves, shallots, ginger, turmeric, coriander root (or cilantro stems), lemongrass, shrimp paste, curry powder, coriander seeds, cardamom seeds, cumin seeds and 2 to 4 tablespoons of the chile soaking liquid (as needed) to make a paste. Makes about 1¼ cups.
  3. Make the soup: In a large heavy pot, heat 1 cup of the coconut milk over medium-high heat. When the coconut milk begins to simmer, add the curry paste and cook, stirring constantly, until the liquid has thickened and reduced, 5 minutes. Add the water and remaining 2 cups of coconut milk, and bring to a boil. Add the chicken, reduce the heat to medium low and simmer until the chicken is cooked through and tender, 40 to 45 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Working in 2 batches, fry the thin noodles until golden brown and crisp, about 1 minute. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate and set aside.
  5. Cook the thick egg noodles, according to the package directions, until al dente. Rinse under cold water and set aside.
  6. Stir the palm sugar into the soup. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt. Divide the soup and noodles among 4 bowls and serve with cilantro, pickled mustard greens, shallots, chile oil and lime wedges.
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