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 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!
- Can I substitute the tempeh? Yes, you can use tofu instead!
- Is Khao Soi very spicy? I would say it is mildly spicy, it doesn't burn but you can definitely taste the spiciness.
- Is Khao Soi high-calorie? 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.
- What is the best way to keep Khao Soi? Keep the soup and noodles separate. I would even recommend cooking only the amount of noodles you plan to serve the same day.
- How long does Khao Soi keep? It will keep for up to 4 days in the refrigerator.
If you are looking for rich and aromatic noodle soup, you are going to 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!
More Thai-Inspired Vegan Recipes
Let me know in the comments if you try this recipe!
Tempeh Khao Soi
- 7 ounces tempeh
- 1 teaspoon cashew or almond butter
- 2 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- ¼ teaspoon cumin
Khao Soi Soup
- 1 shallot minced
- 1 clove of garlic minced
- 1 inch ginger grated
- 1 and ½ tablespoon 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 tablespoon soy sauce
- 2 tablespoon coconut sugar
- ¼ teaspoon turmeric
- 1 whole dried shiitake
- 2 teaspoon seaweed
- 2 tablespoon 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 tablespoon 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 ¾ 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.
Hi Thomas! Looks delicious. One tip I discovered for tempeh is that if you soak the cubed tempeh in brine (for 250g cubed tempeh, add in 2 cups hot water and 2 teaspoons of salt) for at least 5 mins (I usually do it for longer), it's really good for removing the bitter taste of the tempeh. Cheers!
Thanks for sharing Monique! That's a great tip!
I usually boil tempeh for 10 minutes but I will try your method with brine next time 😉
This sounds great! How many does this feed?
Nevermind, found it!
It is delicious!! I did use only 1/4 tbs of red curry paste because I don't like it too spicy. Thank you so much for the recipe.
You're welcome Elvira! I noticed that not all curry paste have the same spiciness, some are very strong while others are not.
Khao Soi is amazing! I also chop pickled mustard greens for my toppings, and also do a crispy noodle on top for extra crunch.
Thanks for your feedback Eric! 🙂
Had this bookmarked to make for a while now. Finally made it for dinner... WOW! So incredibly tasty. I could only find sliced dried shiitake mushrooms and decided to keep them in the soup. It was a great choice. Keeping this recipe handy to make again. Thanks!
Thanks for the feedback Srivani! 🙂 Glad to hear you liked it!
This was delicious! Will probably make it again. Thanks for the recipe.
Thanks for the feedback Vix! 🙂
Delish! Made this yesterday and it came out so well.
Awesome! Thanks for your rating!
We made this for dinner tonight and it turned out really good. Used the recipe as a guide, we didn’t go exactly according to plan. One thing to note, we spiralized two zucchini in place of the noodles. I would add some more heat to the dish to improve it.
This was so GOOD!! I've tried making several Vegan dishes the past week, and all of them were very bland; after spending a long time working on them I was not impressed. But this dish was simple to make and definitely the most flavorful meal I've had for awhile! Thank you so much!
Cilantro is the heart of Vietnamese food! Defiantly top with that 🙂
You can top with your favorite herbs!
Parsley and maple syrup? This is wrong on so many levels.
This is an inspired recipe...Thanks for your interesting input.
All I can say is Wow. Seeing this recipe brought me back to Chiang Mai. We had some good red curry paste, unfortunately no tempeh under lockdown/quarantine, and had to swap onion for shallot but came out AMAZING and between 3-4 people was gone in under 10 minutes. Looking forward to making the complete version (and doubling the recipe) in the near future. Thanks!!
So glad to hear you loved this recipe Ali! 🙂
Thanks for your feedback and rating!
So excited to try this! What type of rice noodles do you use, and what kinds of wheat noodles would be most similar to them?
I used flat white rice noodles, a bit similar to pho noodles. Linguine would be good for this recipe.
So delicious! I ended up using linguine, which was perfect. Also added some kale because kale. Thank you for another great recipe.
Thanks for your feedback Ellie 🙂
So delicious! Ended up using linguine which was perfect. I also threw in some kale because kale. Thank you for another great recipe!
One of the best soup I’ve had in my life.
Oh thank you Maryse! 🙂
Everything about this dish is excellent and surprisingly easy to make with a limited number of ingredients. Will be on rotation in my house.
Merci Renée !
Love your blog Thomas! I finally decided to try and this it was great! I have been longing for Khao soi since I lived in Chiang Mai a couple years ago (I wasn't plant based then), so thank you for the recipe 🙂 the only issue I had was the noodles I used, I used normal flat rice noodles but I don't like the texture (I find them slimey) I like the vermicilli noodles but I'm not sure which would be another good gluten-free alternative? Thanks, Chris 🙂
Thanks for your kind words Christina!
You could try cooking the noodles and bit less. Another tip to remove the slimy texture, is to rinse them under cold water to remove the starches.
Delicious! I didn't have dried shiitake or seaweed but it was a success anyway. Also, I added carrots for a bit of veggies. Everyone loved it.
Thanks for your feedback Katherine! 🙂
Wow this recipe was sooo delicious! I didn’t have dried mushroom or seaweed so I used 1 tsp of vegan fish sauce instead. It was delicious and I can’t stop eating it!
Thanks for your feedback Sabina! 🙂
Thanks for your feedback Monica!
Wow, this turned out to be so delicious, created a great gourmet experience for our Easter lunch. Thank you Thomas, love your work.
Thanks so much for your great feedback Maria!
I made this tonight and it was excellent. Instead of making the soup, I roasted beets, squash and broccoli and served in a bowl rice and this broth as a 'sauce'. Fantastic!
Sounds like delicious additions Bob! Thanks for your feedback 🙂