Northern-Style Thai Coconut Soup
This easy Northern-Style Thai Coconut Soup is a take on Tom Kha and a Khao Soi. This recipe comes together in under 30-miunutes and is vegetarian/vegan-friendly and also gluten-free!
Vegetarian and vegan Tom Kha
If you love Thai recipes then you’ll love Northern-Style Vegan Thai Coconut Soup. This soup is a take on a Tom Kha and a Khao Soi, which are two of my favourite Thai soups. This soup is similar to my Vegetarian Laksa, but with different flavour notes and variations of ingredients.
Tom Kha is a traditional Thai Coconut soup made with coconut milk, that chillies, lemongrass and other herbs. It’s a classic Thai soup that usually also contains chicken in it and is in a white broth.
Khao Soi is a dish found in Nothern Thailand, and also in parts of Laos. It’s a soup dish made with red curry paste, coconut and usually contains fried egg noodles on top. I had my very first Khao Soi experience years ago on my first trip to Thailand. It was in the North in an area called Chiang Mai, which is a huge foodie area! Chiang Mai is the cultural hub of Thailand, and if you’re planning a trip there do not skip out on this area!
I consider this soup a fusion of these two dishes. It’s filled with Thai red curry paste, spices, coconut milk and rice noodles.
Why you’ll love this recipe
- Ready in less than 30 minutes. One thing I love about this recipe is that it’s ready in under 30 minutes, but packs SO much big flavour. It’s easy to throw together and perfect for an easy dinner.
- Vegan and gluten-free. This soup is vegan and gluten-free friendly so everyone can enjoy it! It’s made with (gluten-free) soy sauce instead of fish sauce and vegetable broth.
- Customizable. The recipe below doesn’t contain any added proteins or vegetables, but this soup is easily customizable to add whatever you like. Try some soft tofu, bok choy or any other veggies you love.
Ingredients you’ll need
- Vegetable stock: you can use any type of stock you like here. If you are not vegetarian or vegan you can also use a chicken stock. A good quality stock (I usually like organic vegetable stock) will have the best taste.
- Coconut milk: make sure to used canned full-fat coconut milk. Coconut milk from a carton (for drinking) is not the same as canned coconut milk. Light coconut milk is also more diluted with water than full-fat coconut milk, so it won’t give the same taste and richness to the broth.
- Onion: any regular onion will do.
- Garlic/ginger: fresh garlic and ginger will add a ton of flavour to this soup. In a traditional Tom Kha you’ll often see galangal ginger, but for this recipe we’re keeping it simple with regular ginger.
- Red curry paste: to keep this recipe vegetarian, make sure to check the label of the curry paste you buy to make sure it doesn’t contain shrimp paste.
- Curry powder/turmeric: this is a *secret* ingredient that is used in Khao Soi that gives it a really bold and birght flavour. The turmeric helps to give the soup that vibrant colour.
- Soy sauce: make sure to use gluten-free soy sauce or tamari if needed. Otherwise any soy sauce will do.
- Coconut sugar: traditionally in Thailand palm sugar is used to sweeten dishes. Coconut sugar has a similar taste and is often easier to find at grocery stores.
- Lime: this helps balance out the coconut sugar and the flavours in the soup.
- Rice Noodes: I use pad Thai noodles, but vermicelli noodles or egg noodles will also work well.
How to make Thai Coconut Soup
Start by browning the onions, garlic and ginger in a pot with some vegetable oil in it, then add the curry paste and spices and mix it all together, letting curry paste toast slightly.
Next add the vegetable stock and coconut milk and mix everything until combined. Then season with soy sauce, coconut sugar and lime and mix together.
Bring the soup to a boil, then cover and let simmer for 15 minutes. Cook up some rice noodles according to package directions and add them in to the soup. Top with some fresh herbs if you like!
Recipe add-ins and substitutions
There are so many different ways you can switch up this Vegan Thai Coconut Soup and ways you can vary it. This soup recipe can act as your “base” to play around with however you like!
- Bok choy
- Thai eggplant
- Red peppers
- Soft tofu
- Curry paste: substitite red curry paste for any curry paste you love (green or yellow would both work well)
- Rice noodles: change them for any noodles you love, or even konjac noodles for a grain-free option.
- Coconut sugar: if you can’t find this you can use maple syrup, agave or honey (for a non-vegan option)
The secret to a tasty Thai soup
Thai cusine is all about balancing sweet, salty, spicy and sour notes. You may notice that many Thai dishes have these elements in them that just create a huge burst of flavour when you eat them.
We achieve this combination of flavour in this soup by adding in coconut sugar, soy sauce and lime juice. You can also add in chillies, but keep in mind that most red curry pastes already have chillie in them which will give a spicy element to th dish.
Depenidng on your personal taste, you may find that you enjoy a bit more of some of these elements, so feel free to play around and add more or less of each of these ingredients to suite your personal taste.
- Different brands of Thai curry paste can be spicier than others, so start with less curry paste in the recipe and adjust as needed if you have a low spice tollerance.
- Do not cook the noodles directly in the soup broth. If you do they will absorb all the broth and you’ll be left with no soup.
- Store noodles and soup separately in the fridge for up to a week. (If you store the noodles in the soup broth, the noodles will become soggy.)
How to store
Fridge: store any leftover soup broth and noodles separately in the fridge for up to 5 days. It’s important to store these sepearetly, otherwise the noodles will absorb all the broth if stored together and you won’t be left with much soup. (Also, this will make the noodles soggy.)
Freezer: store soup broth in a freezer safe container for up to 3 months. Let defrost on the countertop or in the microwave. Reheat on the stovetop or in the microwave. Do not freeze the noodles with the soup! These will become soggy after being defrosted. It’s best to just make a batch of fresh noodles for servings.
While traditional Thai soups are made with fish sauce, this version is made vegan by using soy sauce and a vegetable broth.
This soup is good for you in moderation. It’s relatively light with just some broth and noodles. Keep in mind that coconut milk does contain quite a bit of calories and fat, so it’s best enjoyed here and then rather than every day.
I find red curry paste is the best in this soup and it adds a beautiful colour to the broth. That being said yellow or red curry paste will work well too.
Some more Thai recipes to try:
- Thai Carrot And Ginger Soup
- Favourite Vegan Pad Thai
- One pot Thai red curry noodles
- Vegan Pad See Ew
- Thai Coconut Curry Tofu
- Spicy Thai Butternut Squash Soup
If you tried this Northern-Style Thai Coconut Soup or any other recipe on the blog let me know how you liked it by leaving a comment/rating below! Be sure to follow along on Pinterest, Instagram and Facebook for even more deliciousness!
A Northern-style Thai Coconut Soup made with red curry, coconut, and loaded with noodles for a savoury cant-stop-eating soup you won’t be able to get enough of!
- 1 1/2 tbsp avocado oil (or vegetable oil)
- 1 onion, roughly chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
- 1-inch cube of ginger
- 1–2 tbsp of Thai red curry paste (*see note)
- 2 tsp curry powder
- 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
- 1 Litre (4 cups) low-sodium vegetable broth
- 1 cup coconut milk (full-fat from a can)
- 2–3 tbsp soy sauce (*gluten-free if needed)
- 2 tbsp coconut sugar (maple syrup or agave work too)
- juice of 1/2 lime
- 7oz rice noodles (about 1/2 a pack)
- cilantro to top
- Heat the avocado oil in a large pot on medium-high heat.
- Add the onion and cook on medium heat for 2-3 minutes until translucent. Next, add the garlic and ginger and cook for another minute.
- Add the Thai red curry paste, curry powder and turmeric powder mixing everything together for 30 seconds and letting the curry paste cook slightly until aromatic.
- Add the vegetable broth, and coconut milk, soy sauce, coconut sugar and lime juice, and bring to a boil stirring everything together, then lower the heat to medium-low and let simmer for 10 minutes.
- While the soup is simmering, cook the rice noodles according to package directions.
- Add the rice noodles to the soup.
- Serve with fresh cilantro and a lime wedge (optional)
Some brands of Thai curry paste are spicier than others. I’d recommend starting with 1 tbsp and then adding more as needed to your taste. Depending on how salty your vegetable broth is to start, you may need more or less soy sauce. Taste and adjust accordingly
Do not cook the noodles directly in the soup broth. If you do they will absorb all the broth and you’ll be left with no soup.
Store noodles and soup separately in the fridge for up to a week. (If you store the noodles in the soup broth, the noodles will become soggy.)
Store noodles and broth separately in the fridge for up to 5 days.
- Serving Size: 1/4 of recipe
- Calories: 268
- Sugar: 5g
- Fat: 13g
- Carbohydrates: 30g
- Fiber: 2.5g
- Protein: 3.2g
Keywords: Thai coconut soup, vegan Thai soup, vegetarian Thai soup, Vegan coconut soup
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