Our Vegan Khao Soi – a Curried coconut noodle soup, is a plant-based take on the Northern Thai favourite. It’s both creamy and spicy, which is a winning combination as far as we’re concerned. Thai food always delivers big flavours and this dish is no different!
Curries and noodle soups are two of our favourite things, so of course we had to bring this one back with us from Thailand. We first tried it while in Chiang Mai, in Northern Thailand. 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.
After lots of eating and a few cookery classes, we think we’ve delivered an authentic flavour with our vegan khao soi. It’s a pretty simple recipe, albeit with a few slightly more unusual ingredients (but they can be substituted). It takes less than 30 minutes to make, so it’s pretty quick too!
🍜 What is it?
There are a lot of variations on khao soi, because it’s not strictly a Thai dish. While our vegan khao soi 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. They passed through Myanmar and Laos en route, with some of them settling there. There are variations from all three of those 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.
It’s not such a common dish outside of Northern Thailand. We’ve certainly never seen it in a Thai restaurant in the UK (though I’m sure there are restaurants out there serving it). If you are lucky enough to find a vegan khao soi on your travels, we highly recommend trying it!
We’ll show you how to make a khao soi paste, as well as the main recipe. 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!
We really recommend the Mae Jum Thai curry pastes. They’re all vegan and easily the best premade curry pastes we’ve found. Plus they’re a small family run business, which we love.
Anyway onto the ingredients for our vegan khao soi…
For the paste:
- Shallots – chopped in half.
- Fresh ginger – peeled and cut into slices.
- Fresh turmeric – peeled and cut into slices. You could always use ground if you can’t get fresh.
- Coriander seeds.
- 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.
- Curry powder.
- Fermented soybean paste (a.k.a. yellow bean paste) – we love using this in-place of shrimp paste. It adds a rich, salty, complex flavour to Thai dishes! If you don’t have this, you could add a small piece of nori/seaweed or white miso paste, or just omit altogether.
- Water – this is for if you’re making the paste in a blender, which, (we assume) most people will. If you’re a sucker for punishment and using a pestle and mortar, you won’t need this.
For the soup:
- All of the curry paste made above. Or roughly 2 tbsp of a shop-bought paste – it’ll vary by brand, so start there and add more to taste.
- Sweet potatoes – peeled and cut into small chunks.
- Coconut milk.
- Vegan chicken stock – you can use vegetable stock and it’ll be just as delicious. We’re just fiends for that chicken stock.
- Extra-firm tofu – cut into bite-size pieces.
- Sugar – coconut sugar or another unrefined sugar is great, but any sugar works.
- Vegan fish sauce – we love using this to try keep it authentic, but honestly soy sauce works just as well.
- 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.
- Flat rice noodles – soaked in hot water.
- Fried shallots or rice noodles. Traditionally it’s fried, crispy egg noodles – but, you know, this is a vegan khao soi. We decided to go with the crispy shallots, rather than deep frying rice noodles. Although it would be more like the traditional dish if we used fried noodles, we didn't think it needed them in our version.
- Ground chillies or chilli flakes fried in oil – for those who like it spicy.
First thing’s first:
- 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 size of chunks, your oven etc.
While the sweet potato is roasting, make the khao soi paste:
- 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:
- Heat up a wok or large saucepan over a medium heat. Pour in a splash of oil.
- Add the paste and fry it for a minute until fragrant. Then add the tofu and stir well so the paste covers it.
- Now add the coconut milk and stock, bring the mix up to a boil then reduce to a simmer.
- Add the sugar and fish sauce. Simmer for 10 minutes.
- Put the sweet potato in to reheat and the spring greens to wilt. This will only take a couple of minutes.
- Drain the noodles and split between 4 bowls. Top with the vegan khao soi soup.
- Garnish with crispy fried shallots and fried chilli flakes for the spice lovers.
🇹🇭 Other vegan Thai dishes
You may know, we’re self-proclaimed vegan Thai food experts. It’s our thing – we even wrote the ultimate guide to vegan Thai food. Here’s some of our other favourites:
Super easy vegan Pad Thai.
Classic stir-fried Thai morning glory.
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.
You don’t need loads of fancy equipment to make good food, that’s for sure. We do love a kitchen gadget to make life easier though and some stuff is just essential.
We always recommend them, and we’re going to keep recommending them – sorry! They’re just so useful for measuring ingredients and achieving consistency in your recipes.
We love our Ninja 2 in 1 blender. It’s a good bit of kit and efficient at what it does. You just want something that’s capable of making a really smooth paste out of those tough ingredients. It’ll make creating your vegan khao soi curry paste a breeze.Print
Vegan Khao Soi, otherwise known as Thai Curried Coconut Soup is a definite crowd pleaser! Ready in just 30 minutes, it's a fragrant and warming bowl. Perfect for chilly evenings.
For the paste:
- 2 shallots – halved
- 1.5 tbsp fresh ginger – chopped into a few big slices
- 1 tbsp fresh turmeric* – chopped into a few big slices
- 1.5 tbsp coriander seeds
- 4 cardamom pods – remove the pods to leave just the seeds
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 tsp curry powder
- 1 tsp fermented soybean paste*
- 4 tbsp water
For the vegan khao soi:
- All of the above paste
- 400g flat rice noodles
- 2-3 sweet potatoes (~600g) – peeled and chopped into bite-size chunks
- 400ml coconut milk
- 3 cups (750ml) of vegan chicken or vegetable stock
- 400g extra-firm tofu – chopped into bite-size chunks
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 2 tbsp vegan fish sauce or soy sauce
- 100g 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Pour in the coconut milk and stock. Bring the mix up to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.
- Add the sugar, vegan fish sauce (or soy sauce) and tofu. Continue to simmer for another 10 minutes.
- 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.
- 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.
- Category: Lunch, Dinner
- Method: Simmer
- Cuisine: Thai
Keywords: Vegan khao soi