Coconut Curry Chicken Soup

Coconut Curry Chicken Soup from

I woke up Sunday morning and decided I just wasn’t feeling the day’s planned dinner menu. Tomorrow is Fat Tuesday, and the idea was to kick off the Mardi Gras season with a big batch of gumbo (and post about it today).

Two things put the kibosh on that plan: I was out of filé powder, with no nearby source for it (and gumbo really needs that little hit of sassafras to be New Awlins authentic). So, that was a bummer (#firstworldproblems).

And, the kiboshier thing of the two:  a big heavy stew just didn’t sound good. The sun was shining, my daffodils have now joined my crocus in poking their greenery out of the soil. My garden seed orders are either in hand or in transit.

So even though it was only February 19th, I realized I had already started mentally transitioning out of winter food. What I was really craving was a big pot of chicken soup. Something curried and brothy and packed with vegetables. A nice big bowl of coconut curry chicken soup — that’ll do the trick.

Coconut Curry Chicken Soup from

So, I hit the grocery store and lingered longer than usual in the produce section. When I spied the baby bok choy, my heart did a little skippy-leap. Baby bok choy is a winter-spring vegetable, and for whatever reason, holding it in my hand felt like we were turning the corner to Spring.

Coconut Curry Chicken Soup from

What I didn’t buy on that trip were carrots, leeks, onions and shallots. The carrots and leeks I pulled fresh out of the ground — our very mild winter here in the Ohio Valley has meant a mere handful of days of hard ground freeze. Leeks and carrots will survive that readily (carrots, above, top to bottom: Yellow, Sweet Treat, Purple Dragon). The onion (which I didn’t end up using in this recipe) and shallots (second picture from the top) were from last summer’s crop.

As I gear up to begin seeding for this year’s garden, I’m reminded of the simple — but incredible — power of the home garden, and that for a 3 or 4 month stretch in summer-fall, I buy very little at the grocery store, my food coming from my own little rectangle on this planet, or, for what I can’t/don’t grow, from the local farmers’ markets.

The goods from my garden, plus a few pantry staples, and the chilly can’t-wait-for-spring weather is held at bay with fragrant, warming, coconut curry chicken soup.

Coconut Curry Chicken Soup from

If you’re still looking for something Mardi Gras-ish, check out last year’s Jambalaya recipe, plus a side story of why you’ll never find a King Cake recipe on this site.

Karen xo


Coconut Curry Chicken Soup
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
The preparation here takes an almost stir-fry approach in cooking both the chicken and the vegetables. I almost always prefer chicken browned against a hot surface than boiled in stock — the extra steps add, at most, 15 minutes, but are worth it IMO. I also borrowed an Indian cooking technique in making a paste of the aromatics and spices before adding the stock — deepens the flavor, I think.
Serves: 4-6
for the chicken
  • 3 tablespoons coconut, sunflower, or other high-heat oil, divided usage
  • 3/4 pound chicken thighs, cut into thin, short strips
  • 1/2 teaspoon curry powder
for the vegetables
  • 1 leek, sliced into thin rounds, then lightly chopped
  • 4 small carrots, sliced thinly on the diagonal
  • 1 baby bok choy head, root end trimmed, sliced thin (including leaves — give them a little extra chop or two)
  • 1 small red bell pepper, diced
  • 2 ounces shiitake mushrooms, stems discarded, sliced (about 8 caps)
for the assembled soup
  • 1 medium shallot, minced
  • 1 tablespoon ginger
  • 1 tablespoon lemongrass, minced very finely (or lemongrass paste)
  • 1-3 tablespoons red curry paste (use three for a hot curry punch)
  • 2 teaspoons mild, sweet curry powder
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 4 cups chicken stock or broth
  • 2 teaspoons fish sauce
  • 1 15-ounce can coconut milk
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice (from one small lime)
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 ounces rice noodles (rice sticks) or Chinese noodles
  • 2 tablespoons fresh basil, sliced chiffonade, plus additional for garnish
  1. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a 5 qt. Dutch oven or stock pot over medium until shimmering. Season the chicken pieces with curry powder, salt and pepper. Add to the pot and cook all the way through, about 8 minutes. Remove to a plate and set aside.
  2. Add another tablespoon oil, turn heat to medium-high and add the leeks, carrots, bok choy, bell peppers and mushrooms. Sauté, stirring constantly - like a stir-fry - for 5 minutes, until vegetables are soft but still vibrant. Use a small splash of chicken stock to deglaze the pan, if necessary. Push the veggies off to one side of the pan.
  3. Add the remaining tablespoon of oil to the empty side of the pan and heat briefly. Add the shallots, ginger and lemongrass, stirring well, while keeping the ingredients together in a small mound. Mix in the red curry paste, curry powder, and brown sugar, heating briefly (30 seconds). Slowly add about a 1/4 cup of chicken stock and stir to create a loose paste. Add the remaining stock and thoroughly mix all of the contents of the pot together.
  4. Let the soup come to a gentle boil, then reduce heat to medium-low. Return the chicken and its juices to the soup. Let cook for 5 minutes. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed.


  1. Oh my gosh – I’m drooling. This looks SO good!

  2. That looks like a very tasty soup. I very much like the combination of coconut and chicken, also I think it’s great that you have included a lot of vegetables.

  3. I love the word kibosh . . and so glad that no file powder and early spring inspired this Mardi Gras worthy soup.

  4. I can’t believe that you can still veggies from your garden. Crazy winter indeed.
    Soup looks perfectly wonderful for these confused season times we are living in.

  5. Wow- so many good things about this post: drool-worthy (or should I say Pinterest-worthy?) photos, jealousy-inducing garden bragging, and hilarious anecdote about King Cake linked to boot. I will say I am a bit intimidated by the length of the ingredient list though…

    • SoupAddict says:

      LOL! Oh, and there’s nothing to be intimidated about. The great thing about herbs and spices is that they’re purchased in quantity, so you have them for the next dish, too. Items like lemongrass can often be found in paste-form (in my neck-‘o-the-woods, it comes in a tube and is stocked in the produce aisle with the packaged fresh herbs and mushrooms) – enough for many meals. :)

  6. I love curries but the yellow and coconut versions are my favorite. This looks fantastic!

  7. A bowl of deliciousness and comfort!

  8. I make something similar to this except with green curry paste, but I’m loving the idea of all those extra vegetables in yours (mine just has sweet potato and tomato), so I think I’ll be adding to it next time I make it. Mmmmmm!

  9. Wow, I can’t believe you still can harvest root veggies from your garden…very cool! And, yeah, the hearty gumbo doesn’t mesh with our unseasonably warm weather…though I’m sure I could eat it :) Your chicken soup looks marvelous…and all your photos are truly lovely~

  10. I am longing for Spring while currently watching it snow. This soup is perfect for this time of year. It looks delicious. Great photos!

  11. I made this recipe last night, and it was restaurant worthy. It took less than an hour total cooking time and the flavor was to die for. The chicken melted in your mouth with a robust flavor that is untouchable. The only variation is that we put it over rice and vetoed the rice noodles. Will make this again…and again…….and again! :)

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