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Thai Ramen Noodle Chicken Soup

Get out of the winter soup rut with bright and flavorful Thai Ramen Noodle Chicken Soup. Thanks to quick-cooking ramen noodles, this dish comes together quickly with leftover or rotisserie chicken, for a hearty weeknight meal.

Overhead view of Thai Ramen Noodle Chicken Soup in a large Dutch oven.

What is it about soup that’s so comforting and restorative?

I’m about midway through my yearly knock-down-drag-out cold — it’s a doozy — and all I can think about is my next bowl of soup. (And, I’ll admit, my next nap.) There’s bone broth simmering in the slow cooker as I type this.

Chicken soup is on the menu for dinner tonight, and a big mug of leftover Thai ramen noodle chicken soup and a vegetable-heavy green salad is waiting for me for lunch. Hot herbal tea has soothed the throat and warmed the body, but I don’t think I would’ve gotten through this insipid virus if it weren’t for soup.

Today’s chicken soup is just the kind of medicine I need to get through it all. Lots of health-supporting ginger, garlic, mushrooms, and — of course — a deeply savory, homemade bone broth, all rounded out by delicious Thai-inspired ingredients like Thai red curry paste, kaffir leaves, and lemongrass.

And it comes together lickety-split, thanks to quick-cooking ramen noodles: Dinner on the table in just 30 minutes. That’s something even a cold-muddled zombie, like my current sad self, can pull together.

Why the Cheap Ramen Noodles?

I’d like to get one thing out on the table here. There’s always someone who complains when a recipe calls for the cheap ramen packets at the grocery store.

Sure, they’re not exactly at the top of the noodle quality hierarchy, but back when I first created this recipe, those ramen packets were the only types of ramen available to me here in the Midwest.

Lucky were the communities that had a well-stocked Asian grocery. Mine did not. In fact, we’re still light on interesting Asian food options, even restaurants. Things are improving slowly, though, and while my local Kroger doesn’t yet carry fresh ramen, the rice noodle options are expanding.

But, regardless of variety, I’m still not going to be a food snob about the ramen noodle packages. They’re economical. They never run out of stock. They’re easy to store in the pantry. Just discard the seasoning packets and use the noodles within with a full heart.

Thai Ramen Noodle Soup in a large soup pot with spoons to the side.

Ingredients: Notes and substitutions

Chicken — Dishes like Thai Ramen Noodle Chicken Soup are exactly what leftover chicken was made for! Short on time and nothing in the freezer? Rotisserie chicken from the grocery store is an excellent solution and the one I opt for most often.

To use raw chicken: remove the skin and bones and brown the pieces in oil, right in the soup pot, first thing. Remove and set aside to cool while the vegetables cook. Then cut up the chicken into bite-size pieces and add to the soup as instructed.

At the end of the first 15 minutes of cooking, check several pieces to ensure the chicken is cooked through (if not, cook 5 minutes more). Then add the ramen noodles and continue the recipe

Shiitake mushrooms — The woodsy flavor and sturdy texture of shiitake mushrooms are perfect for this soup, but don’t hesitate to use other wild mushrooms. Or even cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced.

Kaffir lime leaves — Kaffir leaves have a distinctive citrusy aroma, kind of like a spicy-sweet lime. They’re used like bay leaves, where their essential oils infuse the soup with flavor. And like bay leaves, be sure to fish them out of the soup before serving. Available fresh or dried, they can be hard to find in some locations. Check your produce aisle for fresh, bagged leaves, or the spice aisle for dried.

If you can’t find them, just leave them out because there’s really no substitute for their unique flavor.

Ginger & Lemongrass — My recipe below, as written many years ago, calls for minced fresh ginger and lemongrass. While fresh ginger root is often available where I live, fresh lemongrass rarely is at my regular grocery store. So, I’ve begun keeping the paste versions for both in my fridge.

I won’t argue with anyone who pushes back, saying fresh is better. It is! But, bottom line, pastes are better than no ginger or lemongrass at all!

So, if you’re having trouble finding fresh, look for the pastes. In my local stores, they’re in the refrigerated case of the produce department. My local Kroger used to sell shelf-stable-until-opened ginger paste — also stocked in the produce department — but sadly no more. Substitute paste for fresh 1:1 in the recipe below.

Thai red curry paste — Probably my favorite Thai-inspirational go-to flavoring, this ingredient really has no substitute in Thai Ramen Noodle Chicken Soup. Depending on the brand, it can be mildly spicy or have a nice kick to it. The brand stocked by my Kroger is on the mild side, so I usually add 2 tablespoons to this soup (rather than just the one called for in the recipe). You might want to give yours a taste to see where it falls on the spicy spectrum.

Baby bok choy — Salad greens in soup may sound strange to some, but it’s really not, and I hope you’ll try it. Baby bok choy holds its shape and crunch very well, and adds interest and texture to a cooked soup. (No baby bok choy on the store shelves? Substitute regular bok choy or even Napa cabbage).

Overhead and close-up view of a pot of Thai Ramen Noodle Chicken Soup.

Finally, For a lightly creamy variation (similar to this one from the soup archives), substitute, one-to-one, some of the chicken broth with canned coconut milk.

Here’s to the wonderful effects of humanity-restoring soup!

Karen xo

More Asian-cuisine-inspired soups to explore:

Thai Ramen Noodle Chicken Soup | SoupAddict.com - a hearty chicken soup with rich, Thai-inspired flavors.
Print Recipe
5 from 2 votes

Thai Ramen Noodle Chicken Soup

Tasty with bright Thai flavors, this chicken soup cooks up quickly thanks to ramen noodles and leftover or rotisserie chicken. If you’re using the economical packs of dried ramen noodles, be sure to discard the flavor packet – you don’t need it!
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time20 minutes
Total Time35 minutes
Servings: 4 servings
Author: Karen Gibson

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 leeks well cleaned and chopped
  • 1 small onion diced
  • 1 carrot chopped
  • 1 celery rib chopped
  • 1 tablespoon minced lemongrass
  • 1 tablespoon minced ginger
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon red Thai curry paste
  • 6 ounces shiitake mushrooms sliced
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon tamari soy, or fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 2 cups cooked chicken chopped or pulled (leftovers work great)
  • 1 kaffir lime leaf optional
  • 1 3 ounce package ramen discard seasoning packet
  • 1 baby bok choy sliced
  • 1 green onion sliced
  • salt and black pepper to taste

Instructions

  • Heat oil in a 3 or 4 quart pot over medium until shimmering. Add the leeks, onion, carrot, celery, lemongrass, ginger, and garlic, and sauté until softened (6-8 minutes). Scootch the vegetables to one side and add the sesame oil and curry paste. Stir until fragrant, then mix in with the vegetables.
  • Add the mushrooms, the chicken broth, plus the vinegar, tamari (or soy or fish) sauce, and brown sugar. Increase heat to medium-high. When the soup begins to bubble, add the chicken and kaffir leaf, and reduce heat to medium-low (enough to maintain a gentle simmer). Cook for at least 15 minutes, to let the flavors combine. Add the ramen noodles and cook 5 minutes more. Taste, and adjust the salt and pepper.
  • A few minutes before serving, fish out the kaffir leaf, then add the bok choy and green onions and stir to heat through.
Nutritional information, if shown, is provided as a courtesy only, and is not to be taken as medical information or advice. The nutritional values of your preparation of this recipe are impacted by several factors, including, but not limited to, the ingredient brands you use, any substitutions or measurement changes you make, and measuring accuracy.
Recipe Rating




Jennifer

Sunday 10th of September 2023

My husband and I really enjoyed this soup. I couldn't find kaffir leaves but I just added a little more lemongrass paste because it seemed the thing to do. I can definitely see this as a cold-comfort soup, but we won't be waiting until then to have it again.

Barbara J Welch

Saturday 5th of January 2019

Thank you! This recipe is a keeper. I love the spicy broth and find it a nice change from a typical chicken noodle soup recipe.

SoupAddict

Saturday 5th of January 2019

I'm so glad you liked it! :D

Ben Robertson

Tuesday 11th of July 2017

I could only find a hugenormous bok choy at my friendly neighborhood megamart. How much sliced bok choy would you recommend? A cup?

SoupAddict

Tuesday 11th of July 2017

That's sounds perfect! :D I'll admit, though, that I usually add more greens to my soup than what might be shown in the pictures - I love the crunch of the bok choy! Hope you enjoy the soup!

Zandra

Tuesday 12th of January 2016

Sounds good, bnut you do not need to use those really bad seep fried instant ramen noodle. If you have the good fortune of a nearby Asian market, you can pick up some dried NON-FRIED ramen noodles, or any other Asian noodles. They are very inexpensive and taste feel so much better. A better match for those wonderful fresh ingredients in this recipe.

Ruth

Tuesday 16th of April 2024

@Zandra, Hi, I got whole wheat ramen at Costco...It has the ramen shape, not fried and no spice packet...It cooks up like ramen...I just throw a cube in soups.This looks like a great recipe! Thanks.

Zandra

Tuesday 12th of January 2016

Sorry for all the typo that should be "deep fried."