Curried coconut noodle soup – our vegan Khao Soi is a plant-based take on the Northern Thai favourite. It’s both creamy and spicy, which is a winning combination! Thai food always delivers big flavours and this dish is no different. Ready in just 30 minutes and it’s a taste sensation.
🌟 Why this recipe works
- This recipe is based on a traditional one that we learnt in Thailand. Curries and noodle soups are two of our favourite things, so we just had to bring this one back. We first tried it while in Chiang Mai, in Northern Thailand where it comes from. Traditionally it’s made with egg noodles and chicken (or sometimes beef). But it’s surprisingly easy to find vegan khao soi in Thailand now – especially in Chiang Mai.
- Authentic flavours! We think we’ve delivered an authentic flavour with this vegan khao soi. It’s a pretty simple recipe, albeit with a few slightly more unusual ingredients (but they can be substituted). Notes below.
- After attending numerous Thai cooking classes while in Thailand, we know this style of cooking very well, so we hope you can trust us on this one!
- It takes less than 30 minutes to make, so it’s pretty quick with easy to follow instructions.
🍽 Equipment & product suggestions
We really recommend the Mae Jum Thai curry pastes. They’re all vegan and easily the best pre-made curry pastes we’ve found. Plus they’re a small family run business, which we love. We also recommend using a wok, wok utensils, a non-stick roasting pan, and a large bowl to soak the noodles.
Top Tip: if you love this recipe, check out our e-cookbook Vegan Thai Food Made Easy. It's packed with 21 original Vegan Punks recipes featuring curries, curry pastes, stir fries and even the most popular Thai dessert, as well as 3 BONUS recipes!
📋 Ingredient notes
The ingredients and instruction section is an overview of this recipe, to go with the process images of the recipe being made. For full ingredients, instructions and notes, head to the recipe card bottom of this page.
We’ll show you how to make a khao soi paste, as well as the main recipe.
For the paste (if you’re making it), you’ll need:
- Fresh turmeric – peeled and cut into slices. You could always use ground if you can’t get fresh.
- Cardamom pods – remove the outer pods so you’re left with just the seeds.
- Dried red chillies – soaked in water for at least a few hours. You can use fresh red chillies but the flavour will be different as dried chillies create a deeper flavour.
- Curry powder – choose a mild or medium curry powder so it doesn’t get too spicy.
- Fermented soybean paste (a.k.a. yellow bean paste) – it is an alternative to shrimp paste. It adds a rich, salty, complex flavour! If you don’t have this, you could use white miso paste instead.
Alternatively, you can definitely use a shop-bought paste if you don’t have time (or just don’t want) to make one. If you can find a khao soi paste, you’re sorted. More likely though, you’ll have to find an alternative – we think Thai yellow curry paste would probably be the closest. Just make sure it’s vegan!
For the vegan khao soi:
- Khao Soi curry paste – as made above. Or roughly 2 tablespoon of a shop-bought paste – the amount to use will vary by brand, so start there and add more according to the instructions and how it tastes.
- Coconut milk – choose reduced-fat coconut milk to make the recipe lighter.
- Vegetable stock or vegan chicken stock – either work well but we especially love Massell’s vegan chicken stock.
- Sugar – coconut sugar or another unrefined sugar is great, but anything works.
- Vegan fish sauce – we love using this to try to keep it authentic, but honestly, soy sauce works just as well.If you ever need fish sauce substitutes, check out our guide alternatives for fish sauce.
- Spring greens – roughly chopped. Traditionally khao soi would use pickled mustard greens, which we’d recommend. But spring greens were in season when we made this and we’re big fans of trying to keep it seasonal.
- Fried shallots or rice noodles. Traditionally it’s fried, crispy egg noodles – but, you know, this is a vegan khao soi so go with deep-fried wholewheat noodles and/or crispy shallots.
- Ground chillies or chilli flakes fried in oil – for an even spicier soup!
🔪 Step-by-step instructions
- Preheat the oven to 190c / gas mark 5.
- Put the sweet potato chunks into a non-stick roasting pan (or one lined with greaseproof paper) and roast them.
- Once they’re cooked (if a fork will go into them easily), take them out of the oven and set aside. It’ll probably be 10-15 minutes, depending on the size of the chunks, your oven etc.
While the sweet potato is roasting, make the khao soi paste:
- Heat up a wok or frying pan over a medium heat.
- Put the halved shallots, ginger and turmeric slices face-down in the pan – no oil.
- Once they start to charr, flip them over and do the same to the other side. Once a piece is charred on both sides, take it out of the pan and set it aside.
- Chuck the coriander and cardamom seeds in and toast them until fragrant. Turn off the heat.
- Now add all the paste ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth. Or, if you’re hardcore, add it all to a pestle and mortar and get to work pounding the ingredients.
Now get cracking on the vegan khao soi:
1. Heat up a wok or large saucepan over a medium heat. Add a splash of oil.
2. Add the paste and fry it for a couple of minutes until fragrant.
3. Now add the tofu, coconut milk and stock, bring the mix up to a boil then reduce to a simmer.
4. Add the sugar and vegan fish sauce. Simmer for 10 minutes.
5. Put the sweet potato and spring greens into the pan, allow them to reheat and wilt respectively. This will only take a couple of minutes.
6. Drain the noodles and split between 4 bowls. Top with the vegan khao soi soup. Garnish with crispy fried shallots and fried chilli flakes.
👩🍳 Expert Tips
- If you can't get fresh turmeric, switch it out for 0.5 tablespoon ground turmeric.
- The fermented soybean paste could be switched out for white miso paste.
- You can use soy sauce instead of vegan fish sauce. Or even tamari to make it gluten-free. Just make sure the stock you use is also gluten-free!
- Add hidden veggies! We once blended a carrot into the khao soi paste. While this is not at all traditional, it helped to create a beautiful deep yellow/orange colour and added a very slight sweetness.
- Mix up the veggies. As with a lot of our recipes, you don’t have to stick to the vegetable we suggest. Try whatever is in season. Carrots, cabbage and broccoli all work well.
Of course! You may struggle to find a khao soi curry paste (especially a vegan one). As an alternative, we think a Thai yellow curry paste would be the best option. Check out the Mae Jum Thai curry pastes.
Yes, it freezes fine without the noodles. Rice noodles don’t survive so well after defrosting and reheating – we’d suggest cooking some fresh. Just defrost the vegan khao soi in the fridge overnight, then reheat thoroughly the next day.
Definitely. Pickled mustard greens are classic, but there’s not really any other “traditional” stuff to consider as it's often just meat. We like it with broccoli, cabbage and carrot.
The closest way we can think to write it down would be “cow soy”. Thai is a tonal language though, with pitch being important – check out Forvo for proper pronunciation.
There are a lot of variations on khao soi, because it’s not strictly a Thai dish. While our recipe follows the traditional Thai methods, it’s actually a dish with origins in China. It’s a Chin Haw dish – Chinese people who migrated to Northern Thailand. There are variations from all three countries, as well as variations within the countries themselves! The main features of the Thai version are that it contains two types of egg noodles, one boiled and in the soup, the other fried, crispy and served on top. The soup base is made with a curry paste and coconut milk.
🍛 What to serve it with
🇹🇭 More vegan Thai dishes
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Vegan Khao Soi – Thai Curried Coconut Noodle Soup
For the paste:
- 2 shallots – halved
- 1.5 tablespoon fresh ginger – chopped into a few big slices
- 1 tablespoon fresh turmeric* – chopped into a few big slices
- 1.5 tablespoon coriander seeds
- 4 cardamom pods – remove the pods to leave just the seeds
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 teaspoon curry powder
- 1 teaspoon fermented soybean paste*
- 4 tablespoon water
For the vegan khao soi:
- Khao Soi paste (as above)
- 200 g flat rice noodles
- 600 g sweet potatoes ~2-3 potatoes – peeled and chopped into bite-size chunks
- 400 ml coconut milk
- 750 ml vegetable stock vegan chicken stock also works well
- 400 g extra-firm tofu – chopped into bite-size chunks
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 2 tablespoon vegan fish sauce or soy sauce
- 100 g spring greens – roughly chopped
- Pre-heat the oven to 180°c / gas mark 5.
- Put the sweet potato in a roasting pan and put in the oven until cooked – roughly 10-15 minutes. Once a fork goes in easily it's done. When it's done, set aside for later.600 g sweet potatoes
- While the sweet potato is roasting, soak the noodles in a bowl/pan of freshly boiled water. You shouldn't need to put them on to cook (if you're not using rice noodles, follow your packet instructions). Put to one side.200 g flat rice noodles
- Add all the paste ingredients to a blender and blend until smooth. You can also do this in a pestle and mortar – just omit the water.2 shallots, 1.5 tablespoon fresh ginger, 1 tablespoon fresh turmeric*, 1.5 tablespoon coriander seeds, 4 cardamom pods, 2 cloves garlic, 1 teaspoon curry powder, 1 teaspoon fermented soybean paste*, 4 tablespoon water
- Now get the wok on to a medium-high heat and add a splash of oil.
- Add the khao soi paste and fry for around a minute until fragrant. Then add the tofu and coat well in the paste by mixing.Khao Soi paste, 400 g extra-firm tofu
- Pour in the coconut milk and stock. Bring the mix up to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.400 ml coconut milk, 750 ml vegetable stock
- Add the sugar and vegan fish sauce (or soy sauce). Continue to simmer for another 10 minutes.1 tablespoon sugar, 2 tablespoon vegan fish sauce
- Try it and add more sugar or vegan fish sauce (or soy sauce) to taste.
- Put the sweet potato and spring greens in for a couple of minutes – just until the greens have wilted and the sweet potato has heated back through.600 g sweet potatoes, 100 g spring greens
- Drain the noodles and split into four portions. Ladle the soup on top. Garnish with crispy fried shallots, plus chilli flakes fried in oil for the spice lovers.
- If you can't get fresh turmeric, switch it out for 0.5 tablespoon ground turmeric.
- The fermented soybean paste could be switched out for 1 tablespoon of nori/seaweed, or just omitted altogether.
- You can use soy sauce instead of vegan fish sauce.