I taught some workshops over the weekend at a local Women’s Conference for our church. We tackled a bunch of common challenges people face when it comes to getting meals on the table and some ideas for solutions. Two of the most common issues we hear are “I have no time!” and “I have a low budget!” So I set off to follow my own advice and create a quick and easy meal out of some really inexpensive ingredients. My aim was to demonstrate that inexpensive and easy doesn’t have to mean tasteless and boring!
I opened up my pantry in search of the most plain, cheap ingredient I could find, and my eyes immediately spotted these:
Ramen noodles! Twenty cents. I remember when I was in college (which wasn’t that long ago) they were a nickle a piece. If I ever have to pay more than a quarter for a pack of ramen I’m not sure I could do it. With a few simple, and relatively inexpensive ingredients that I already had on hand, I could take plain ol’ ramen and turn it into something amazing. I purposely kept this really simple and omitted a long list of ethnic ingredients often called for in similar recipes. You can certainly add other things like garlic, lemongrass, fish sauce, curry paste, chili paste, more veggies, etc. But the whole point of this recipe is to be quick, easy, and affordable! I’ll promise you’ll be impressed at what so few ingredients can do, this soup is really good.
Start with a little minced jalapeno and ginger. The jalapeno doesn’t add any heat, just flavor- this isn’t a spicy soup at all. (Click here for a tutorial on working with jalapenos.) I usually have fresh ginger in my freezer (click here for info and a tutorial on fresh ginger) but you could use dry ground ginger as well. You could certainly add minced garlic in here too; I didn’t because I was going for super quick and easy and I didn’t feel like looking for my garlic press. True story.
Give it a quick saute to soften the texture and mellow the flavors
and then add in some chicken broth
and some coconut milk, which will give the soup a creamy texture and a subtle sweetness. Light coconut milk works great, and remember you can buy coconut milk in cartons by the dairy milk as well, and it’s much cheaper per ounce there than it is for a can. At my store it was .05 cents per ounce, which would make the equivalent can about .67 cents. Generally a can of coconut milk $2- $3 a can so the carton is a great deal comparatively. The cartons are lower in calories and fat and have a consistency similar to the light coconut milk (which is thinner than full fat coconut milk). For some recipes I prefer canned coconut milk, but for this soup, either will work just fine.
Once that mixture comes to a simmer, add in the ramen noodles. Don’t add in the seasoning packet that comes in the ramen- you can ditch that. I always break mine up because I think it’s easier to eat when the noodles aren’t 27 feet long.
Just cook it for as long as it takes your noodles to cook, which is only about 3-5 minutes. If you like mushrooms, you can add some in now and simmer for a couple of minutes. Then add in a little diced chicken. I used leftover rotisserie chicken, which makes it even quicker and easier.
Since the chicken is already cooked, it just needs to heat through, so just let it cook for a minute to do that and then remove the pan from heat. Finish it off with a big squeeze of fresh lime juice and some chopped cilantro.
And then you can garnish it with more cilantro, a sprinkle of green onions and a lime wedge.
Creamy, flavorful, and delicious.
The best part is that it can be on the table in less than 20 minutes and it clocks in at only about $1.20 per serving. Not too shabby!Print
Quick and Easy Thai Coconut Soup
- Total Time: 15 minutes
- Yield: Serves 4-6
- Category: Soups
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoon minced jalapeno pepper
1 1/2 tablespoon fresh minced ginger, or 1 ½ teaspoons ground dry ginger
2 14.5-ounce cans chicken broth
1 13.5 ounce can coconut milk or light coconut milk (about 1 3/4 cups)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 packages ramen noodles (discard seasoning packet)
optional: ¾ cup sliced mushrooms
1 1/2 tablespoon fresh lime juice
2 tablespoon chopped cilantro
1 cup diced or shredded cooked chicken
toppings: additional chopped cilantro, sliced green onions, and lime wedges
Heat medium sized pot to medium-high heat on stove top. Add olive oil, jalapeno, and ginger (if using fresh). Cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring frequently, until jalapeno and ginger are softened and fragrant. If using ground ginger, add now and stir.
Add chicken broth, coconut milk, and salt and increase heat to bring mixture to a boil. Reduce to simmer and add noodles (note: you will discard seasoning packet that comes with noodles.) Simmer 3-5 minutes, until noodles are softened. If using mushrooms, add them in the final 2-3 minutes of cooking the noodles.
Add chicken and simmer for about 30 seconds to heat through. Remove pot from heat and stir in lime juice and cilantro. Ladle into serving bowls and garnish with additional chopped cilantro, green onions, and lime wedges if desired. Serve immediately.
Note: This type of noodle absorbs liquid exceptionally fast, so you should serve the soup immediately. If you know you need to keep the soup warm for a while before serving, wait to add the noodles until a few minutes before you’re ready to serve.
Keywords: Soup, Thai, coconut, ramen
I made this tonight for dinner. My whole family LOVED it including all 4 of my kids! That never happens! Thank you Sara.
Agreed! I just made it tonight and loved it!
I am not a huge fan of top ramen.. but I had to run out to get all the ingredients for this! It was wonderful! Is there something you can use in place of the ramen? Maybe I just won’t use the full amount of noodles next time? I haven’t made one of your recipes that I didn’t love! keep em comin!!
Yes, you can definitely use any other Asian noodle- like Udon.
I make this recipe with rice noodles (the kind you soak in hot water for ten minutes) and I turned out amazing!
Thanks for the delicious recipe. I made it for dinner tonight. Even the four year old tried it out. Word of caution, because apparently I’m an idiot…wash your hands thoroughly before touching your lips…or face…or nose…or both eyes.
Burning will occur.
as an amendment…that should be to wash your hands after handling the jalapeno pepper.
I would add just wear gloves when handling the pepper. I’d always heard of the oils burning, and I washed my hands a couple times after I touched them. But I still got some in my eye, and WOW does it burn!! lol I washed my hands like a bajillion more times last night and I still have a little burning on one finger where I must have a cut I can’t see and got the oil in it.
Ha, yes! I should have linked our little tutorial on working with jalapenos!
hahaha! I did that once too! Both my eyes were burning so badly! I was screaming so loud my husband thought I had stabbed my eye with a knife!
I love top ramen and i would love to try it a new way so it isnt the same all the time
I didn’t know coconut milk came in cartons!! I love the stuff but hate paying for it. I’ll have to look for it next time I go to the store. This recipe looks delicious… I think this is going on our menu this week!
This looks amazing! My husband and I still dream about the soup like this at Mai Tai, and we have been hoping to find a recipe like it. I am curious if the Jalapeno is just used for an added layer of flavor or if it makes it hot and spicy. I don’t like a lot of spice but I am afraid if I omit the pepper it will throw something out of balance in the recipe..??
Nope, it honestly doesn’t add any spice, at all- just flavor!
I happened to have all the ingredients on hand and made it for lunch today. It was really yummy! Especially for something fast and cheap. The lime and cilantro really make it taste fresh. It was all such a yummy flavor combination. It is on my to make again list. Thank you. I have a question, about what percent of your recipes in your book are on this site and how many are only in the cookbook?
There’s about 150 recipes in our book and probably 40-ish are exclusive to the book, and the rest can be found here on site.
Hi i make it all the time but this is so much easier. If you ever go in to fast food they have a veg dish with crab and shrimp in a sweet,clear sauce. I would love to know how to make it, I have tryed but i do better with a recipe. We grow cilantro and it is really easy even in the house near a window. I am in calif so i grow it outside. thank you so much i appricate all the time you put in to this for all of us.
Thank you SO much for this recipe. My 20 week pregnant self saw it and had to have it tonight. I only made half a batch – big mistake! I’m making more tomorrow with the leftover ingredients! It’s perfect.
Sara, I was in your class Saturday and it was really great. I have the Best Bites Cookbook and my family has loved everything we’ve made from it. Thanks so much to you gals for putting it together and for your awesome site. My son is a ramen fanatic and was quite intrigued when I came home and told him how good this soup was. It’s on the menu this week!
Mmmmm, nom nom, more lime and coconut…! I made your lime coconut white chip macademia nut cookies this weekend and everyone LOVED them 🙂
I love Thai flavors! You could also add a teaspoon or two of Thai red curry paste to the mix to give it a touch of curry. I can’t wait to try this!
Yep- I did that with my leftovers, it was super yummy!
This looks fantastic. I love ramen noodles…but not with the seasoning packet. I am always looking for new recipes that use them. I can’t wait to try this. =)
This looks great! I never knew you could get coconut milk in a carton…I’ll have to see if my grocery store carries it that way. I LOVE coconut milk!
This is very similar to a recipe I’ve made for years (minus the noodles). I gave it to Kate once upon a time. I posted it on my blog not too long ago
Looks good Emily; Kate and I have never talked about this type of soup, but most have pretty similar flavor profiles!
That’s the great thing about Thai food. It’s not as complicated as it sounds. I love that you guys like a lot of the same flavors and cook similarly…that means I’m on the right track!!
I’m assuming what you’re trying to say is, “Sara, do you use garlic in this recipe?” 🙂 And my answer is- I did not, but you are more than welcome to! Just saute it with the ginger and garlic.
Oh yum!! I can’t wait to try this. Thanks!! I’ve been obsessed with Thai food lately.
Yum, yum, yum!! That sounds delicious!! I wish I had the ingredients in my cupboard and I’d make it right now.
This looks delicious. And easy. Thanks!
I love Thai coconut soups, but most recipes have a huge ingredient list. I can’t wait to try this one!
Ramen is $.33 in NYC and it makes me die inside just a little bit when I buy it.
Ya know those cookbooks that say, ’50 ways to bake with cake mixes’ or ’50 recipes to cook with ramen’… Too bad this recipe isn’t in one of those! Those recipes are usually disgusting and this looks specacular! Love anything with coconut milk. Thanks for another great recipe!
This is such a great idea! I bet a teaspoon or so of fish sauce (oh my gosh…don’t smell it before you put it in!) would make this extra tasty and also closer to what you’d taste in a Thai restaurant (not that I’m saying you were even going for that…just that some people indicated that’s what they were hoping for in the comments). Although a bottle might be a little pricey (maybe $3-$4), a little goes a LONG way (that’ why I can’t even remember how much it costs…I’ve been on the same bottle for probably 7 years now). Thanks for the tip on the coconut milk in the carton. For some reason I never thought of it in the same context as the one in the little can, but it makes sense that it would be similar. I don’t care that we’re supposed to be setting high temperature records in New York this week…I want some of this anyway!
Amazing. I just made your thai curry noodles last night, so I just happen to have half a can of coconut milk leftover waiting to be used! By the way, the noodles were great! They were the first thai food I made at home that came close to being as good as take-out thai.
I love this! And I happen to have some Ramen in my pantry right now. Yes, I do.
Oh my gosh, this is PERFECT!!! I always have Ramen noodles on hand…I like them for lunch. Is that a normal grown up thing to eat for lunch?
I’m so making this this week!!
Seriously- I grew my second child completely on Ramen noodles. It’s all I ate for about 6 months, and still a weird comfort food for me!
Thanks for the tip about the coconut milk in cartons!! We always buy light, but recently all of our stores have stopped carrying it! I’ve had to buy regular the last few times, which is admittedly tastier, but adds a lot of calories.
I have never tried making my own thai food but this looks easy and delicious and I am going to put it on the menu very soon. Thank for posting a quick and cheap dinner recipe! You girls are the best!
Oops. That was supposed to say thanks or thank you, not just thank.
Also, is your red knife ceramic? Do you love it for cutting or is it just cute in your pictures? Would you recommend any particular brand? Thanks. Or thank you. Or just thank. Whatever. 🙂
Ellie, those are Kuhn Rikon knives and I LOVE them! I have them it lots of colors- they have carbon steel blades and come in 14 colors. They cut beautifully, but I especially love the fun colors!
You can see all of the colors here: http://kuhnrikon.com/products/tools/tools.php3?id=210
My boyfriend and I went to a Thai restaurant today and I was telling him about this Thai Coconut soup I had at a restaurant in SLC, UT once that was TO DIE FOR but I have never been able to find since…And then you go and post this recipe! Yay!! I will be making this soon!!
There is a place in Murray, UT called The Tea Rose Garden. I don’t know if this is the one you are looking for but their coconut soup is amazing! and they just opened a new location under a different name. Any way I am Excited to try this recipe!
You’re waiting for me to comment on the cilantro, right? Other than that, it looks fantastic!