I’m sitting here with a blank screen trying to figure out if I can even accurately describe to you how good this Thai Red Curry Vegetable Soup is. Maybe I should tell you that I wanted to skip the bowl and just eat it straight out of the pot with the huge ladle as my spoon? Maybe I should admit that I almost wanted to tell my boyfriend that I didn’t cook anything today so I could hide the soup and eat it all myself (no, not really, that’s mean).
The point is, this Thai Curry Vegetable Soup is good. So, so, so good. That paired with its simplicity and ease of preparation means there’s a good chance I’ll want to make this about once per week. I probably shouldn’t be eating that much coconut milk, but I’m sure I’ll find some way to rationalize it.
What Is Thai Red Curry Paste?
Thai red curry paste is a mix of red peppers, chiles, ginger, garlic, and other spices. Not to be confused with Indian curry powder, which is a mix of different spices and is usually sold as a powder, rather than a paste. Thai red curry paste can be used in soups, stir fries, sauces, and more.
Is Thai Red Curry Hot?
The spiciness of Thai red curry soup depends on the brand of Thai red curry paste used. I used Thai Kitchen brand, which is common in U.S. grocery stores, and it is not very spicy. Green Thai curry paste, on the other hand, is quite a bit spicier.
Customize the Vegetables
I happened to go to an Asian market yesterday where I picked up the ingredients for this soup (at really amazing prices, I might add), but if you can’t get the same vegetables as me, you can still make this Thai Curry Vegetable Soup! The beauty of this Thai Curry Vegetable Soup is that you can use just about any vegetable you like, although I try to at least have some sort of leafy green. Other vegetables that would be great choices include: spinach, kale, collard greens, cabbage, mushrooms, bean sprouts, snow peas, carrots, or red bell peppers.
Make it Vegetarian
I made a vegetarian version (minus the fish sauce, anyway) today, but you could easily add meat to this soup. Toss in some shredded rotisserie chicken, or brown some chicken pieces in the beginning with the Thai curry paste. If you prefer shrimp, I suggest adding it at the end and simmering just a few minutes, or until the shrimp turn pink.
And what about the noodles? That’s customizable, too! You can skip the noodles all together if you want, or use a brick of cheap-o ramen if that’s what you have. It’s still going to taste amazing.
Easy, flavorful, and customizable–This Thai Curry Vegetable Soup is EXACTLY Budget Bytes style.
Thai Red Curry Vegetable Soup
- 2 Tbsp neutral cooking oil* ($0.04)
- 2 cloves garlic ($0.16)
- 1 Tbsp grated fresh ginger ($0.05)
- 2 Tbsp Thai red curry paste ($0.62)
- 1 small sweet potato (about 1 lb.) ($1.61)
- 1 bunch baby bok choy ($0.55)
- 4 cups vegetable or chicken broth ($0.52)
- 1 13oz. can coconut milk ($1.29)
- 1/2 Tbsp fish sauce ($0.07)
- 1/2 Tbsp brown sugar ($0.02)
- 3.5 oz. rice vermicelli noodles ($0.39)
- 1/2 red onion ($0.29)
- 1 lime ($0.17)
- 1 handful fresh cilantro ($0.17)
- Sriracha to taste ($0.15)
- Prepare the vegetables for the soup and garnishes first, so they're ready to go when needed. Mince the garlic and grate the ginger using a small-holed cheese grater. Peel and dice the sweet potato into one-inch cubes. Wash the bok choy well, then chop into one-inch strips, separating the fibrous stalks from the delicate green ends. Thinly slice the red onion and roughly chop the cilantro.
- Add the cooking oil to a large soup pot along with the minced garlic, grated ginger, and Thai red curry paste. Sauté the garlic, ginger, and curry paste over medium heat for 1-2 minutes.
- Add the diced sweet potato and chopped bok choy stalks to the pot (save the leafy green ends for later) along with the chicken or vegetable broth. Bring the pot to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce the heat to low and let simmer for 5-7 minutes, or until the sweet potatoes are tender.
- While the soup is simmering, bring a small pot of water to a boil for the vermicelli. Once boiling, add the vermicelli and boil for 2-3 minutes, or just until tender. Drain the rice noodles in a colander and set aside.
- Once the sweet potatoes are tender, add the coconut milk, fish sauce, and brown sugar to the soup. Stir, taste, and adjust the fish sauce or brown sugar if needed. Finally, add the bok choy greens and let them wilt in the hot soup.
- To serve, divide the rice vermicelli among four bowls. Ladle the soup and vegetables over the noodles, then top with red onion, cilantro, a wedge or two of lime, and a drizzle of sriracha.
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How gorgeous are those colors??
How to Make Thai Curry Soup – Step by Step Photos
Start by preparing your vegetables, so they’re ready to use when you need them. I just happened to go to an Asian market the day before, so I picked up this Japanese yam, baby bok choy, limes, cilantro, and a red onion. Read through the intro if you need ideas for alternate vegetables.
Peel and dice the yam (or sweet potato, either will work), thinly slice the red onion, cut the limes into wedges, and cut the bok choy into strips. Try to keep the stalk end and the leafy green ends separate, as you’ll add them to the Thai Curry Vegetable Soup at different times.
You’ll also want to mince two cloves of garlic and grate about 1 Tbsp fresh ginger. It’s important to note that Thai red curry paste is VERY different from the curry powder that is used in Indian cuisine. This one is basically a mix of red chiles, garlic, galangal (similar to ginger), lemongrass, and a few other spices. If you want to make this soup EXTRA easy, skip the garlic and ginger, and just add more of the Thai red curry paste. ;)
Add a couple of tablespoons of any neutral cooking oil (like canola, vegetable, peanut, sunflower, grapeseed), the minced garlic, grated ginger, and 2 Tbsp of the Thai red curry paste to a large pot. Sauté the garlic, ginger, and curry paste over medium heat for 1-2 minutes.
Next add the hard vegetables, in this case, the yam (or sweet potato) and stalks of the bok choy, so they can simmer in the soup and soften.
Add four cups of vegetable or chicken broth, place a lid on top, turn the heat up to medium-high, and bring to a boil. Once it reaches a boil, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 5-7 minutes, or until the sweet potato is soft.
While the soup is simmering, I cooked the rice vermicelli separately (this package is 3.5oz). The reason I cooked the noodles separately is that they cook super fast and I didn’t want them to overcook in the soup. I might, at some point in the future, add them to the soup at the end and let them soften that way, but today I wanted to be extra sure, so I just cooked them separately. They only take about 2-3 minutes to soften in boiling water, then drain the noodles in a colander and set aside.
Back to the soup pot. Once the sweet potato cubes are soft, add a 13oz. can of coconut milk, which transforms the soup into this creamy goodness.
Also, add 1/2 Tbsp fish sauce and 1/2 Tbsp brown sugar. Now, if you’ve never used fish sauce let me just tell you that it is very potent and doesn’t smell good, but because it’s used in such small quantities, that doesn’t really transfer to the dish you’re adding it to. It just adds a subtle umami flavor and a bit of saltiness. If you can’t get fish sauce or want this dish to be vegetarian, you can leave it out. It still tastes good, but IMHO will be missing that je ne sais quoi or authentic flavor that fish sauce gives. Also, if you skip the fish sauce, you can probably also skip the brown sugar.
After adding the fish sauce and brown sugar, give the broth a taste and adjust the flavors if needed. Finally, add the leafy green ends of the bok choy and let them wilt in the hot soup (the pot should still be over low heat).
To serve the Thai Curry Vegetable Soup, place some of the rice vermicelli in the bottom of a bowl…
Ladle the soup and vegetables over the noodles…
Then add your garnishes: thinly sliced red onion, lime wedges, chopped cilantro, and a drizzle of sriracha.
And then dig in.
And try not to die of happiness from the tastiest Thai Vegetable Soup ever.
Hey beautiful. ;) ;) ;)