Khao Soi~Chiang Mai Curry Noodle Coconut Soup

Khao Soi~ A Stack of DishesThere are a few dishes that I dream of, along with the place where I’ve eaten it.  Without a doubt, on the top my list is Khao Soi in Chiang Mai. This is a regional dish from Northern Thailand, thought to be of Burmese influence. This dish consists of a rich curry laced coconut milk broth in which chicken or pork are simmered. The broth is then poured over warm egg noodles and topped with sprouts, greens and fried noodles.

In Chiang Mai you can find small hole in the wall shops that serve this dish for around 35Bhat ($1 US). My favorite place is in the Airport Mall food area on the lower level.  Nestled amongst several other bustling luncheon food stands is our favorite spot. A somewhat grumpy guy,  with a handful of furtive worker bees chopping and stirring around him, rules over the middle of a fairly large oval food stand. It consists of a low shallow counter and rustic stools, akin to the design of a sushi bar. Out of an enormous cauldron he ladles the broth over tender egg noodles, piles on a mound of mung bean sprouts and fried noodles, and plunks the bowl before you without ceremony. Dispersed along the counters are large tea caddies with the condiments. Pickles, sliced shallots, chunks of lime, soy sauce, bottles of chili sauces, and bowls of dry chili flake combinations. No two people will dress up their bowl the same, and it’s mind boggling to think of the variations- especially since no one is shy about pouring on the hot sauce and spices.

Khao Soi~ A Stack of Dishes

I prefer mine with a shot of soy sauce, a generous squeeze of lime, a sprinkling of shallots and a dangerously daring teaspoon of chili flakes. The dish is rich in flavor, and delightful in texture. Rich creamy broth is spiked with tender bits of meat, amongst slippery noodles, accented with some crunch of mung bean sprouts and fried noodles, then finally punctuated with a ying yang of vinegary pickles and spice.

Whenever Pam and I go to Thai restaurants in the states we will look for this dish. It’s quite a bit of an undertaking to create so it’s not often seen on menus. Often when it does appear, the resulting dish is quite unsatisfying. I would say it’s akin to comparing a NYC good Jewish bagel with some mass produced notion in Ohio. Yeah… it IS Khao Soi, but it just doesn’t seem to have the depth and soul. Not to diss Thai chefs in the US, but maybe it’s the water or something? It’s just not the same.

Khao Soi~ A Stack of DishesOf course, trying to replicate this dish, especially in a small city in Louisiana, is not easy at all. It took me almost 2 hours over the stove to nudge and cajole the ingredients I had on hand into a fair replica. More was the pressure as I was serving it for a small dinner party that evening. The recipe I came up with has all the nuances I associate in this curry bowl. By no means is this to be compared to a classic version, but all things considered, it is divine.

We have a fantastic Asian Market here so I was able to pick up fresh egg noodles, which I will say was well worth the effort. You may use dried spaghetti, but the difference in texture and taste is incomparable. Sadly I could not find mung bean sprouts, and my dietary concerns deterred me from making a batch of fried noodles. By no means would this meal be considered low calorie, but worth every slurpy spoonful.

Khao Soi~ Chiang Mai Curry Coconut Noodle Soup
This is a rich curry coconut soup that packs a spicy punch.
512 calories
50 g
66 g
28 g
20 g
19 g
327 g
945 g
4 g
0 g
6 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
Amount Per Serving
Calories 512
Calories from Fat 236
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 28g
Saturated Fat 19g
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 2g
Monounsaturated Fat 4g
Cholesterol 66mg
Sodium 945mg
Total Carbohydrates 50g
Dietary Fiber 4g
Sugars 4g
Protein 20g
Vitamin A
Vitamin C
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
  1. 4 tablespoons red chili flakes
  2. 2 medium shallots, rough chopped
  3. 4 cloves garlic, minced
  4. 2 tablespoons minced ginger root
  5. 1/2 cup cilantro stems, rough chopped
  6. 2 tablespoons hot curry powder
  7. 2 tablespoons canola oil
  8. 2 14z cans unsweetened coconut milk
  9. 4 cups chicken broth
  10. 2 large chicken breasts, on the bone, skinless
  11. 3 tablespoons fish sauce
  12. 1 tablespoons hot chili oil
  13. 1 tablespoon palm sugar ( or brown sugar)
  14. Salt to taste
  15. 1 lb fresh chinese egg noodles
for serving
  1. lime wedges
  2. thinly sliced shallots
  3. fresh cilantro
  4. chili sauce
  5. mung beans (if you can find them)
  6. fried egg noodles- you may take some from the recipe and fry them up
  1. In a blender jar add the chili flakes and cover with hot boiling water. Let it stand for a few minutes to soften. The longer the better. Pour off the water and reserve. Add the shallots, garlic, ginger, cilantro stems, and curry powder and blend into a smooth paste. Adding some of the chili water if needed.
  2. In a large soup pot, warm the oil and add the chili paste and cook over medium heat for 3 minutes, stirring constantly taking care not to burn the paste. Add the coconut milk and chicken broth and bring to the boil. Reduce to a simmer and add the chicken. Simmer until the chicken is just tender, about 20 minutes. Remove the chicken to a plate to cool, then shred the meat and return to the pot, discarding the bones. Simmer for another 20-30 minutes, then add fish sauce, chili oil and palm sugar and taste for balance, adding more salt if needed.
  3. Cook the egg noodles in boiling water and keep warm.
  4. To serve add a mound of noodles at the bottom of a bowl and pour broth with chicken over the top. Offer the condiments on the side.
A Stack of Dishes

Cauliflower Soup Made with Bone Broth

Cauliflower Soup with Bone Broth~ A Stack of DishesEvery year after either Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner, I am left with the turkey carcass, and like so many things, I say to myself- “I’m going to make stock out of that”, and then I don’t.

This year I finally got un-lazy and pulled out my huge stock pot. Though rather than just make broth, I decided to make bone broth, a nutrient dense and flavorful broth.  By simmering the bones for a long long time, a lot of the minerals and nutrients are removed from the bones and meat creating a broth that is rich in amino acids, gelatin, calcium and magnesium, plus more. The gelatin is  known for aiding in digestion, essential for those on the GAPS diet. The broth contains natural glucosamine and chondroitin, which is thought to be therapeutic for joints. The broth also contains proline, which along with vitamin C is great for your skin. The gelatin and collagen also support skin health.

So you can see that this liquid is quite the elixir, but the best part?? It’s delicious!! and couldn’t be easier to make.

cauliflower soup~A stack of dishesInto a stock pot I added the turkey carcass, the turkey wings, an onion, a couple of cloves of mashed garlic, a handful of rough chopped carrots, 2 celery stalks and 2 tablespoons of vinegar and covered the whole lot with fresh water. I then simmered it, covered, all day. It simmered as I cleaned up the wrapping and gift bags, it simmered when I swept and washed the floor, it simmered when I went to the gym, it simmered when I called my Mom and told her about the beautiful gravy and mashed potatoes I made the day before… you get the idea. It just does it’s thing while I did mine.

Finally at the end of the day I strained the liquid through a fine sieve and that was that. The result was a rich luscious broth that cooled into a jelly. (which got me to thinking about making soup dumplings… hmm)  This time when I tossed the carcass into the trash, I felt victorious.

My batch yielded 3 qts of gorgeous broth, which is delicious on it’s own, but I decided to make cauliflower soup. Into a large pot I sweated a pile of onions, a couple of cloves of garlic and some minced celery. Then I tossed in a couple of cups of the afore mentioned mashed potatoes, half a head of cauliflower rough chopped, and a quart of the broth. After about a half hour of low simmering, I pureed it all, added some milk, and the result?

The result was this conversation: [Read more…]

Chilled Asparagus Soup

Chilled Asparagus Soup ~ A stack of dishes.comSultry.

Such is the perfect word to describe these dog days of summer. The morning starts out warm but with a touch of breathable coolness in the air.  As the day broadens, the heat swells. It rolls in like an invisible fog that slinks in around you with long puffy arms which envelop you from the ground up and settles in around you, until suddenly you realize- yep, it’s hot.

Growing up my summer days were spent tearing up the yard with games and adventures. Waving sprinklers were set up to run through, trees were climbed, bugs were collected in jars, and homemade popsicles were for after dinner as the day faded.

The difference here is the quiet of the day. As the sun blazes on the lawn mowers remain dormant, reposing is contained within cooled homes-shutters closed, while the summer song of the cicadas (locusts here) CHCHCHCHCHChhchchchch…. chatter in the trees in sound waves that rise to a rousing crescendo, then dissipate once again into the close quiet.

Southern summer quiet.

chilled asparagus soup~ A Stack of Dishes.comLight meals are preferred and sipping cool soup is a delight. Delicate asparagus is coddled in creamy Greek yogurt and made zesty with some tangy goat cheese.

Summer ease.

Chilled Asparagus Soup
Greek yogurt adds the creaminess and a sense of richness, but the goat cheese adds a zing that keeps that spoon dipping.
241 calories
25 g
8 g
11 g
13 g
4 g
450 g
448 g
15 g
0 g
7 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
Amount Per Serving
Calories 241
Calories from Fat 100
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 11g
Saturated Fat 4g
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 1g
Monounsaturated Fat 6g
Cholesterol 8mg
Sodium 448mg
Total Carbohydrates 25g
Dietary Fiber 4g
Sugars 15g
Protein 13g
Vitamin A
Vitamin C
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
  1. 1 1/4 pounds of fresh asparagus, rough chopped
  2. 2 tablespoons olive oil
  3. 1 small yellow onion, diced
  4. 2 cloves garlic, minced
  5. 2 tablespoons flour
  6. 2 14oz cans of low sodium chicken broth, warmed
  7. 1 bay leaf
  8. 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  9. 1/2 teaspoon salt
  10. 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  11. 1 cup plain nonfat Greek yogurt
  12. 2 ounces chèvre to serve
  1. In a medium to large sized pot over medium heat, warm the oil then add the onions and garlic and gently cook to release the aromatics and soften the onions. Take care not to brown the onions.
  2. Add the asparagus and sauté for 3 minutes. At this point you may remove some of the tips and reserve as a garnish.
  3. Add the flour and cook for a good minute, stirring constantly.
  4. While stirring vigorously to avoid lumping, add half the broth and stir smooth. Then add the remaining broth and the bay leaf.
  5. Set on a low simmer for 15 minutes until the asparagus is tender and the bay is infused. Add salt and pepper.
  6. Remove from the heat and cool until warm to the touch, about 30 minutes- or chill overnight.
  7. Remove the bay leaf and add the parsley. Puree in a traditional blender or with a hand blender until smooth. Add the yogurt and blend again until thoroughly incorporated. Adjust seasonings if needed.
  8. Chill until cold, or you may serve at room temperature. Divide equally amongst four bowls and add the goat cheese and reserved asparagus tips.
  9. A little drizzle of earthy olive oil on top is a nice finish too.
  1. The soup may be made in advance and kept in the fridge for a day or two.
A Stack of Dishes