This recipe is our vegan take on the traditional Curried Noodle Soup from Chiang Mai, Northern Thailand. Khao Soi is delicious, hearty, creamy and packed full of Asian flavours.
While travelling around Thailand, we made it to the Nord and had some amazing bowls of vegetarian Khao Soi. So many things are to be loved from this dish; the fresh curry paste, the creamy and flavorful broth, the crispy noodles on the top, or the toppings served with the curried soup.
If you already know us a bit, you probably know that we like making our dishes from scratch, and when it comes to Thai curries like our Thai Red Curry or Thai soups like our Tom Kha, that means making our own paste. We find that it makes a huge difference in the taste of the dish.
Our Vegan Khao Soi is vegan and can be mae gluten-free. You can substitute the wheat noodles for egg noodles, as the traditional recipe calls for if you prefer a vegetarian version of the dish, or for rice noodles to have a gluten-free option.
For protein, we use tofu but we find tempeh a great plant-based protein for this dish too. You can add veggies as well, but we kept the recipe simple and as similar as possible to the traditional Khao Soi.
Our Khao Soi is:
- Can be made gluten-free, using rice noodles.
- A noodle soup
- A main-dish
HOW TO MAKE HOMEMADE CURRY PASTE FOR KHAO SOI
For our Vegan Khao Soi, the curry paste to use is the red curry paste. We make our paste for Khao Soi really similar to the paste we make for our Thai Red Curry.
The store-bought curry paste that you can buy in supermarkets or even online is good enough if you want to make a quick curry at home but there is nothing like homemade curry paste.
- Dried bird-eye chillies. You can use larger chillies as well. This is the main ingredient to give the curry paste a red colour. In order to be able to use more chillies without the paste being too spicy, the chillies will need to be deseeded. Using gloves, cut the chillies down the side with scissors, remove the seeds and leave them soaking in water for around 10 minutes. We normally add around 10-15 bird-eyes chillies. The curry comes out spicy but not super spicy. If you prefer milder curries, get larger chillies, as they will normally be less spicy.
- Lemongrass stalks. One of the most popular ingredients in Thai food. Lemongrass will give your curry proper Thai fragrance and flavour. To make your curry paste, the best part to use is the bottom part. When you slice it, it has a purple colour inside. Save the green top part for other Thai dishes such as Coconut Curry Soups.
- Shallots. We use finely chopped French shallots for our curry paste but white or red onion can be used as well. If you have easy access to Asian shallots, they are the right ones for curry pastes.
- Galangal. Traditionally, the curry paste is made with galangal. This ingredient may be a bit challenging to find if you are not in Asia. We can find it at an Asian supermarket close by. They have it frozen so it's perfect as we can keep it in the freezer and use it as we need it. If you cannot find galangal, you can use ginger.
- Kaffir lime leaves. Remove the stalk, and finely chop the lime leaves to add to your curry paste.
- Miso paste. We know! Miso paste is Japanese, so why are we using it in a Thai curry? Well, we tried different ingredients to substitute the prawn paste that goes in curry pastes. Prawn paste gives saltiness and umami flavour to the curries, and that is exactly what miso paste does too.
- Spices. For the curry paste we use fresh turmeric, cumin, toasted and grounded coriander seeds and sea salt.
To make the curry paste, you can use a food processor (make sure you are making a big enough batch, otherwise it won't work), a mortar and pestle or a hand blender.
We use the small food processor of our hand blender, you can find it on amazon. It works amazingly when making curry paste, pesto, or other dips and sauces.
To prepare the curry paste, simply add all the ingredients into your food processor or blender jug and blend until you have the right paste consistency.
If the mixture is too dry, you can add some water used to hydrate the chilis, just enough to give the mixture the right consistency.
If you end up with a mixture that is too wet, you can add a little bit more cumin and coriander powder.
The curry paste can be frozen and it will last for months in the freezer or you can keep it in the fridge for 1-2 weeks.
How to make Vegan Khao Soi
Once your curry paste is made, Khao Soi is quite simple to make.
- Curry paste. For our vegan Khao soi you can use fresh paste following our recipe or premade red curry paste.
- Coconut milk. Khao Soi is a creamy curried noodle soup. Coconut milk is what adds the creaminess to the dish.
- Tamari or Vegan fish sauce. To add some saltiness and umami flavour to your soup.
- Sugar. Traditionally, palm sugar is used to cook Khao Soi. You can use brown sugar, white sugar or even maple to add the sweetness that is needed to get the right balance.
- Vegetable Stock. To get the perfect balance between a curry and a soup, both coconut milk and stock are needed when making Khao Soi.
- Tofu. We use firm tofu as our protein for the dish.
- Noodles. Normally, Khao soi is cooked with egg noodles. Thinner noodles for the soup and wider noodles, deep-fried, to add on the top of the curry before serving. For our vegan Khao Soi we use wheat noodles and fried wonton strips to top the dish.
If you want to make this dish gluten-free you can use rice noodles for the soup and rice paper cut into slices for the crispy part. When you deep-fry rice paper it turns really nice and crispy, check this out!
- Garnish. Khao Soi should be always served with a variety of ingredients which normally are shallots, sour mustard finely cut, lime and chili oil. To these combination we add fresh cilantro.
If you already have the curry paste prepared or you have some store-bought one, the most challenging part is done.
All you need to do now is to heat some coconut oil in a pot and add the curry paste. Leave it cooking for 1-2 minutes and then add 2 tablespoons of coconut milk. Keep cooking until it starts bubbling and the oil separated from the paste.
Add the tofu and make dure it gets coated with the paste and coconut milk. You can cook the tofu before by frying it or deep frying it. It can be added raw as well at this point. We like frying it before, so the texture is nicer.
After a couple of minues, add the rest of the coconut milk, vegetable stock, tamari (gluten-free) and brown sugar. Bring it to a boil and leave it simmering for 20-25 minutes.
While the Khao Soi is cooking, prepare the ingredients that will complete this meal.
Khao Soi is traditionally served with an assortment of ingredients that can be prepared while the rest of the meal is still cooking:
- Finely sliced sour mustard. You can find this pickled ingredient in asian stores or online. It's sour, crunchy and salty. Adds the right balance to the meal.
- Chopped fresh shallots. Adding some shallots to the noodles soup adds a lovely amount of crunchiness.
- Crispy noodles on the top. We use deep-fried wonton finely sliced to add on the top of our noodle soup. Make sure the oil is hot enough (for this part we use sunflower oil) and add the wonton dough thinly sliced. Don't leave the pan as this takes seconds. When the bubbles reduce, take the wonton slices our of the oil.
- Chili oil. Prepare the chili oil by heating up some coconut oil in a pan and adding the chili flakes. Once the oil is hot, remove the pan from the heat and add the chili flakes as they burn really easily.
- Fresh cilantro. Simply chop some fresh cilantro to add on the top of the curry soup.
- Lime. Cut a lime in quarters so it can be easily squeezed.
If you serve a delicious and fragrant bowl of Khao Soi with the right garnish, this will be a winner meal.
Making Khao Soi is a whole thing, and of course it can be made easier by adding premade curry paste and reducing the amoung of ingredients you serve with the meal but we think of Khao Soi as a full meal that needs to be done properly.
This may not be a weekday meal, but you can reduce the amount of cooking time if you prepare the curry paste in advance. For us, this recipe is the perfect dish to make on a saturday night or a lazy sunday evening.
Vegan Khao Soi
- 8-9 dried chillis hydrated
- ½ tablespoon coriander seeeds toasted and grounded
- 1 thumb-size piece galangal finely chopped
- 1 small piece fresh turmeric or 1 teaspoon dried turmeric
- 2 lemon grass stalks
- 2 kaffir lime leaves
- 1 shallot
- 2 garlics
- 1 teaspoon white miso paste
- 1 teaspoon salt
Khao Soi Curry Soup
- 2-3 tablespoon curry paste (made using ingredients above)
- 800 ml coconut milk
- 400 ml vegetable stock
- 800 g tofu
- 1 tablespoon tamari or vegan fish sauce
- 1 ½ teaspoon sugar
- 400 g noodles
- 1 lime
- sour mustard oil
- chili oil
- fresh coriander
- chopped shallots
- wonton wrapers for the crispy noodles
- To prepare the curry paste, simply add all the ingredients into your food processor or blender jug and blend until you have the right paste consistency.
- If the mixture is too dry, you can add some water used to hydrate the chilis, just enough to give the mixture the right consistency.
- If you end up with a mixture that is too wet, you can add a little bit more cumin and coriander powder.
- Heat some coconut oil in a pot and add the curry paste. Leave it cooking for 1-2 minutes and then add 2 tablespoons of coconut milk. Keep cooking until it starts bubbling and the oil separated from the paste.
- Add the tofu and make dure it gets coated with the paste and coconut milk. You can cook the tofu before by frying it or deep frying it. It can be added raw as well at this point. We like frying it before, so the texture is nicer.
- After a couple of minutes, add the rest of the coconut milk, vegetable stock, tamari (gluten-free soy sauce) and brown sugar. Bring it to a boil and leave it simmering for 20-25 minutes.
- Cook the noodles following the packet instructions. Once cooked, drain the water, rinse with cold water and leave aside.
- Finely slice sour mustard and slice or chop fresh shallots.
- For the crispy noodles, we use deep-fried wonton finely sliced. Make sure the oil is hot enough and add the wonton wrappers thinly sliced. Don't leave the pan as this takes seconds. When the bubbles reduce, take the wonton slices our of the oil.
- Prepare the chili oil by heating up some coconut oil in a pan and adding the chili flakes. Once the oil is hot, remove the pan from the heat and add the chili flakes as they burn really easily
- Chop some fresh cilantro to add on the top of the curry soup and cut a lime in quarters so it can be easily squeezed.
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