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Coconut Curry Chicken Soup

Author: Liz Frome

This sweet, spicy, and fragrant chicken soup, called curry mee, is a happy contrast of hot broth, springy noodles, and a madness of garnishes. Coconut milk has a particular weighty creaminess, called lemak, that can make some curries and soups too rich. Here, a combination of coconut milk and half-and-half is used to balance the broth.


  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

  • 1 small onion, minced

  • 2 tablespoons minced ginger

  • 1 tablespoon minced lemongrass or stalks of lemongrass and remove once done

  • 3 garlic cloves, minced

  • 2 teaspoons dark red chili paste, such as sambal, more for serving

  • ¾ pound boneless, skinless chicken thigh or breast meat, thinly sliced and cut into bite-size pieces

  • 3 tablespoons curry powder, preferably Malaysian, Thai or Vietnamese

  • 1 teaspoon paprika

  • 1 14-ounce can unsweetened coconut milk

  • ½ cup half-and-half

  • 4 cups chicken stock

  • ½ teaspoon ground turmeric

  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce

  • 1 tablespoon sugar, more to taste

  • About 12 makrut lime leaves or curry leaves, fresh or frozen (optional) or Lime Juice

  • 8 ounces dried thin rice noodles (bun or vermicelli), or other Asian noodles such as udon or lai fun

  • Salt to taste

Optional Ingredients

  • I wanted more vegetables in this dish I added:

  • 1 sautéed red bell pepper

  • 1 cup roasted cauliflower


  • 1 cup bean sprouts

  • 3 tablespoons chopped cilantro

  • 2 scallions, cut into thin rings

  • 2 shallots, thinly sliced and deep-fried in vegetable oil until brown (optional)

  • Quartered limes for serving


  1. Heat oil in a medium pot over medium heat.

  2. Add onion, ginger, and lemongrass and cook, stirring, until softened, about 10 minutes. Do not brown; reduce heat if necessary.

  3. Add garlic and chili paste and stir until fragrant.

  4. Raise heat, add chicken and stir-fry for one minute.

  5. Add curry powder and paprika and stir to coat.

  6. Add coconut milk, half-and-half, chicken stock, turmeric, fish sauce, sugar, and lime or curry leaves. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until chicken is cooked through, about 7 minutes. (If you are adding optional ingredients I then added at the end the red pepper and cauliflower.)

  7. Meanwhile, cook rice noodles in boiling water according to package directions (about 4 minutes). Rinse and drain.

  8. Taste broth and adjust seasonings with salt and sugar. Divide noodles into large soup bowls. Bring broth to a boil, then ladle over noodles.


Top with bean sprouts, cilantro, scallions, and fried shallots, if using. Pass limes and sambal at the table.


To make this rich soup more substantial, boiled potatoes are sometimes added to the simmering broth and cooked until very soft.

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