Khao Soi is a spicy Thai coconut curry soup served with noodles and usually chicken, which we will replace with tempeh for a plant-based version! It’s super creamy thanks to the coconut milk, aromatic, and so easy to make!
📘 What is Khao Soi
Khao Soi is a popular Northern Thai noodle soup. It consists of rice or wheat noodles served in a very aromatic coconut milk broth. The broth is creamy and flavored with red curry paste, ginger, and garlic, giving it an amazing flavor.
The authentic version includes chicken as the protein of choice and fish sauce. To keep this recipe vegan, we will replace the chicken with tempeh and the fish sauce with soy sauce.
🥣 How to Make Tempeh Khao Soi
The main component of this dish is soup. It is easy and takes less than 20 minutes to make. Here is what you will need:
- Shallots, garlic, ginger – While these ingredients are already used in the red curry paste, I believe frying fresh aromatics brings more flavor to the soup.
- Red curry paste – This spicy paste brings most of the flavor. It’s made of lemongrass, red chili pepper, galangal, kaffir lime peel, and spices. I recommend checking the ingredients as not all red curry pastes are vegan. Thai Kitchen Red Curry Paste and Aroy-D are both vegan options.
- Coconut milk – Preferably full-fat coconut milk for a richer and creamier consistency.
- Vegetable broth
- Soy sauce – For umami and saltiness. Use tamari for a gluten-free option.
- Coconut sugar – For the perfect balance of sweet and salty!
Traditionally, Khao Soi also requires shrimp paste to give it more complex flavors. In place of the shrimp paste, I used a combination of seaweed and dried shiitake; it gives the soup a subtle “fish” flavor. Don’t worry it’s not overpowering and can be omitted.
Preparing the Soup
- Sauté shallots, ginger, and garlic until fragrant.
- Next, add the red curry paste and stir to combine.
- Pour in the full-fat coconut milk, vegetable broth, soy sauce, and sugar. Let simmer for 12-15 minutes.
- Add a squeeze of lime, and the soup is ready!
For the optional “fish” flavor: Place the seaweed in an empty tea bag (or tea ball) and simmer with the coconut milk, vegetable broth, and red curry paste for a good 10 minutes. Once the soup is done, just remove the tea bag! By using a tea bag, you don’t have to strain the soup, less mess.
- Tempeh – It adds protein as well as texture. The marinade is a combination of soy sauce, maple syrup, sesame oil, cashew butter, and ground cumin. Feel free to add your favorite spices in there. I’m thinking coriander, cardamom, or even smoked paprika for a hint of smokiness!
- Noodles – Here, I went with rice noodles, but you can use wheat noodles if that’s what you have on hand. Long and flat noodles are best for this recipe.
- Red onion
- Roasted Peanuts – For some crunch!
- Lime juice – It adds freshness and just a hint of sourness.
- Fresh cilantro – Again, for extra freshness!
Yes, you can use tofu instead!
I would say it is mildly spicy; it doesn’t burn, but you can definitely taste the spiciness.
It’s not a light meal for sure, mostly because of the full-fat coconut milk. If you want to make a lighter version, use half coconut milk, half water, or simply use light coconut milk.
Keep the soup and noodles separate. I would even recommend cooking only the amount of noodles you plan to serve the same day.
It will keep for up to 4 days in the refrigerator.
If you are looking for rich and aromatic noodle soup, you will love this vegan Khao Soi recipe! While this dish is a bit higher in fat than usual, it’s so delicious you definitely won’t feel guilty about it!
Khao Soi Soup
- 1 shallot minced
- 1 clove of garlic minced
- 1 inch ginger grated
- 1 and 1/2 tbsp red curry paste
- 1 13.5-ounce can full-fat coconut milk or light coconut milk for a lower calorie option
- 2 cups vegetable broth
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 2 tbsp coconut sugar
- 1/4 tsp turmeric
- 1 whole dried shiitake
- 2 tsp seaweed
- 2 tbsp lime juice
- 6 ounces rice noodles or wheat noodles if not gluten-free
- optional toppings: peanuts, lime, fresh cilantro, sliced red onion
- Start by cutting the tempeh into bite-size cubes or triangles.
- In a large bowl, prepare the marinade by combining the cashew butter, soy sauce, maple syrup, sesame oil, and cumin. If the marinade is too thick, add 1-2 tbsp water.
- Add the diced tempeh to the marinade bowl and stir to coat. Let marinade for at least 30 minutes, or overnight.
Khao Soi Soup
- Heat a tablespoon of oil in a large saucepan. Add shallot, garlic, and ginger and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in the red curry paste and cook for another minute, stirring regularly to make sure it doesn't stick to the bottom.
- Add the coconut milk, vegetable broth, soy sauce, coconut sugar, turmeric, and dried shiitake. Place the seaweed in an empty tea bag or tea ball, this way it will be easier to remove later. Add it to the saucepan.
- Bring to a light boil and let simmer for 12-15 minutes. Remove from heat, discard the seaweed tea bag, and shiitake. Stir in the lime juice. Taste and adjust the seasonings if needed. Cover and set aside while you cook the tempeh and noodles.
- Tempeh: heat a tablespoon of oil in a skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add the tempeh and cook until it starts to brown, stirring regularly. Deglaze the skillet with the remaining marinade, and remove from heat.
- Noodles: Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook the noodles according to the package instructions. Drain.
- To serve: Divide the noodles between serving bowls, pour 3/4 cup of the coconut soup, and top with tempeh, fresh cilantro, peanuts, and a drizzle of lime juice.
- Khao soi will keep for up to 4 days in the refrigerator.