Dip into Khao Poon bowl for a winter soup escape

This is a perfect bowl for a winter day. Khao Poon is a traditional Lao soup with red curry and rice noodles, fragrant with lemongrass and coconut.

SHARE Dip into Khao Poon bowl for a winter soup escape
Khao Poon is a traditional Lao soup.

Khao Poon is a traditional Lao soup.

Lynda Balslev/TasteFood

Are you feeling the winter doldrums?

This is a perfect bowl for a winter day. Khao Poon is a traditional Lao soup with red curry and rice noodles, fragrant with lemongrass and coconut. It’s light, spicy and aromatic, finished with a shower of fresh herbs, bean sprouts and chiles to create a meal in a bowl. Chicken is frequently added, but it’s wonderfully flexible with proteins, including pork and fish, as well as tofu for a vegetarian option.

And if that’s not enough to lift your spirits, Khao Poon is a traditional celebratory soup served at Lao weddings and other festive events. So dig in to your bowl and vicariously join the party.

Once all of the ingredients are assembled, this soup comes together in 30 minutes.

Lemongrass Chicken Curry Soup With Rice Noodles

Total Time: 30 minutes

Yield: Serves 4

INGREDIENTS

8 ounces rice vermicelli noodles

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 pound chicken thighs, cut into chunky bite-size pieces

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 large shallot, finely chopped, about 1/4 cup

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 tablespoon finely grated peeled fresh ginger

3 tablespoons prepared Thai red curry paste, or more to taste

1 teaspoon ground coriander

6 cups chicken broth, divided

1 stalk lemongrass, cut into 3-to-4-inch pieces, lightly smashed

1 (15-ounce) can light coconut milk

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice, plus wedges for serving

1 tablespoon brown sugar

2 teaspoons fish sauce

2 teaspoons Asian hot sauce, such as Sriracha

2 cups bean sprouts

1 cup packed cilantro leaves and tender stems

1 red jalapeno or hot chile pepper, sliced (optional)

DIRECTIONS

Cook the noodles according to the package instructions. Drain and rinse under cold water and set aside.

While the noodles are cooking, heat the oil in a soup pot. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and add to the pot without overcrowding. Cook until colored on all sides, then transfer to a plate with a slotted spoon (the chicken will continue to cook later in the soup).

Pour off all but 1 tablespoon oil from the pot. Add the shallot and saute until softened, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger and saute until fragrant, about 30 seconds, then stir in the curry paste and coriander and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute more. Whisk in the chicken stock and lemongrass. Taste the stock, and if you prefer a spicier soup, whisk in 1 to 2 more tablespoons of the curry paste.

Return the chicken to the pot and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the coconut milk, lime juice, sugar, fish sauce and hot sauce. Bring to a boil and simmer until the soup is heated through.

Divide the rice noodles between serving bowls. Ladle the soup over the noodles. Garnish with the bean sprouts, cilantro and red chiles. Serve with lime wedges and additional hot sauce.

Lynda Balslev is an award-winning food writer, cookbook author and recipe developer. She also authors the blog TasteFood, a compilation of more than 600 original recipes, photos and stories.

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