This popular Burmese chicken coconut soup features noodles doused in a mild curry sauce with a consistency that’s somewhere between soup and gravy. Topped with different accompaniments of contrasting textures and flavors, it’s a one-dish meal that’s perfect for everyday eating and when entertaining guests. Grandma Alvina Mangrai likes to eat it with egg noodles, but you can use rice vermicelli too.–Patricia Tanumihardja
Chicken Coconut Noodle Soup
For the chicken noodle soup
- 3 tablespoons fish sauce
- 3 tablespoons soy sauce
- 3 cloves garlic chopped (1 tablespoon)
- One piece ginger peeled and grated (2 tablespoons)
- 2 teaspoons ground turmeric
- 2 pounds boneless chicken thighs or breasts cut into 1-inch (25-mm) cubes
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 2 medium yellow onions chopped (2 cups)
- 2 teaspoons ground paprika
- Three cans coconut milk (5 cups)
- 7 cups homemade chicken stock or canned chicken broth
- 1/2 cup garbanzo bean flour whisked into 1/2 cup warm water to make a smooth, runny paste
- 2 pounds fresh or 1 pound (454 g) dried thin Chinese egg noodles (like chow mein noodles)
- 6 hard-boiled eggs peeled and cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices
- 4 tablespoons ground dried red chilies pan-roasted until dark and fragrant
- 1 large sweet onion halved, cut into thin crescents, and soaked in water
- 2 green onions white and green parts, chopped
- 1 cup cilantro sprigs
- 3 limes quartered
- Fish sauce
Make the chicken noodle soup
- In a medium bowl, combine the fish sauce, soy sauce, garlic, ginger, and turmeric. Add the chicken and mix well with your hands (use gloves to prevent your nails from being stained ochre by the turmeric). Set aside.
- In a medium heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium-high heat until it becomes runny and starts to shimmer. Stir in the onions and cook until soft and translucent, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the paprika and mix until the onions are well coated.
- Tumble in the chicken and raise the heat to medium-high. Stir and cook until the chicken is no longer pink, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the coconut milk and stock and bring to a gentle boil, stirring constantly to prevent the mixture from curdling. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer gently for 20 minutes to allow the flavors to meld.
- Stir in the garbanzo bean flour paste and return to a boil. Simmer over medium-low heat until the sauce is thick like heavy cream, 5 to 10 minutes. Adjust the consistency with more stock for a thinner gravy or more garbanzo bean flour for a thicker gravy. Taste and add more fish or soy sauce if necessary. Reduce the heat to very low and keep warm until ready to serve.
Serve the chicken coconut soup
- Just before serving the soup, cook the noodles in a large pot of water according to package directions. Tip into a colander over the sink and rinse under cold running water. Drain and place in a bowl. Toss in a little oil to prevent sticking.
- Divide the noodles among individual soup bowls and ladle about 1 1/2 cups sauce over them. Garnish with eggs, chilies, onions, cilantro, limes, and fish sauce as desired.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
This was a very flavorful chicken coconut soup, and a very enjoyable meal. Other than the fact that the recipe should call for a bigger pot to make because it requires 12 cups of liquid. I think that this could be cut back some.
The recipe allows you to thicken it to your taste, which I did. I added additional roux of garbanzo bean flour to thicken it up, it never got really thick the way we like it. We tend to like our soups a bit creamier, not watery. The hard-boiled eggs and green onions were a nice addition. Next time I’ll add the cilantro as well.
At first glance, this soup recipe seemed like so many other Southeast Asian coconut soups/curries that I’ve cooked or eaten. Then I noticed the garbanzo (chickpea) flour in there. Now, that’s interesting and different. Honestly, the first couple of bites were a bit odd with the soft egg noodles and thick gravy-like sauce. Then it really grew on me, and I couldn’t stop eating. The flavor of the sweet coconut cream and earthy chickpea flour combined with the ginger, garlic, fish sauce and herbs was spectacular.
The sauce felt rich and luxurious because of the chickpea flour, as if it had a lot more coconut cream than it did. Another positive is that the soup kept getting better for a couple of days after that first dinner. I can only imagine how much more special it would’ve been with homemade noodles.
I’ve never had hard boiled eggs in my curry, which was surprisingly good. All the toppings made the soup so beautiful, and I like how I can adjust the spiciness. I know that this is a noodle dish, but the curry definitely goes well with rice or coconut rice.
This chicken coconut soup is easy and tasty. The color is spectacular, and the combination of flavors is excellent. The coconut milk makes it just rich enough, and the cilantro and lime garnish complete the soup. Pleasing for every palate. My 13-year-old liked it very much.
This is a great and flavourful soup. It comes together easily and quickly to make a satisfying meal. The coconut broth is rich in texture and very flavourful. The different garnishes add lots of flavours and allow each diner to customize his own bowl.
Originally published December 01, 2009