Thai Red Curry Soup with Shrimp


I love Thai food. On the now rare occasion that we eat out, Thai is usually at the top of my list. I still have to be very careful when ordering to avoid dishes that might have soy sauce in them (there’s wheat in soy sauce), so now I try to make the occasional Thai meal at home. I previously made this soup with chicken, but I had a pound of shrimp in the freezer leftover from the seafood gumbo, so I grabbed that instead.

Like most Thai dishes, this soup has a balance of sweet, sour, salty and spicy flavors that makes each ingredient sing. If you’ve never used lemongrass before, this is a perfect introduction. Lemongrass is a tough, stalky grass that you don’t actually eat, but its aromatic, lemony flavor is essential to Thai soups. You can also toss just about any vegetable into the broth – I really like broccoli in this soup, I’d just forgot to pick some up at the market. If you want to make the soup a little heartier, serve it over a small scoop of brown rice. The soup is both light, and warming – perfect for the wet, dreary day we had on Sunday. A bowl of this soup will warm you right down to your toes (and may make your nose run a bit from the heat, too).


Thai Red Curry Soup with Shrimp

Serves 6
Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated, January 2007

1 T oil, divided
3 stalks lemon grass, tough outer leaves removed, bottom 5 inches halved lengthwise and sliced thin crosswise
1 onion, sliced
1 cup sliced red bell pepper
1 cup thinly sliced carrot rounds
12 sprigs fresh cilantro leaves and stalks, chopped coarse
3 T fish sauce, divided
5 cups homemade chicken stock
2 cups water
1 14oz can coconut milk
1 T sugar
2 cups fresh mushrooms , cleaned, cut into 1/4-inch slices
3/4 lb raw shrimp, peeled & deveined (shells reserved), sliced in half lengthwise
3 T lime juice
2 tsp red curry paste (Thai Kitchen brand)

Garnish: 1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves, lime wedges

  1. Heat 1.5 tsp oil in large soup pot over medium heat until just shimmering. Add lemon grass, 1/2 of the onion, cilantro, and 1 tablespoon fish sauce; cook, stirring frequently, until just softened, 2 to 5 minutes. Stir in chicken broth, reserved shrimp shells, water and coconut milk; bring to simmer over high heat. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer until flavors have blended, 20 minutes. Pour broth through fine-mesh strainer and discard solids in strainer. Rinse the pot and return broth mixture to pan.
  2. Return pot to medium-high heat. Add 1.5 tsp oil to the pot, and add the last 1/2 sliced onion, bell pepper and carrots. Cook, stirring occasionally for about 5 minutes, until the onions are translucent and the carrots are beginning to soften.
  3. Pour the strained stock and coconut milk back into the pot, reduce heat to medium and add 1 T sugar. Simmer for 10 minutes, until carrots are tender. Next, add mushrooms, and cook 3 minutes. Add the shrimp and cook, stirring constantly, until no longer pink, 1 to 3 minutes. Remove soup from heat.
  4. Combine lime juice, curry paste, and remaining 2 tablespoons fish sauce in small bowl; stir into soup. Ladle soup into bowls and garnish with cilantro. Serve immediately with lime wedges.


350 cal/bowl, 150 cal from fat, 17g fat, 125mg cholesterol, 950mg sodium, 600mg potassium, 22g carbs, 8g sugars, 21g protein

10 thoughts on “Thai Red Curry Soup with Shrimp

  1. Pingback: Red Lentil Soup with Sausage and Roasted Red Peppers « The Whole Kitchen

  2. I have always said, I can cook anything… anything but soup! Well, I can now bunk that idea, because this soup turned out beautifully! I had broccoli on hand, and only a handful of dried Shiitake mushrooms, so I balanced out the 3 cups mushrooms called for in the recipe, making up the difference with broccoli. Absolutely delicious! Thanks for posting your rendition.🙂

    • Hill, your comment makes me so HAPPY! Thanks so much for sharing your success – this is the kind of soup that will take whatever vegetal filler you throw at it, so bravo for using what you had! So glad you liked it.

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  4. Pingback: Thai Red Curry Soup| LunaCafe

  5. Update – 5 years later – this is STILL my all time favorite soup. Period. This soup never fails to completely win my heart and I dream of making this during the coldest winter months. I was lucky to have a friend bring me fresh lemongrass and fresh kefir lime leaves from Vietnam. I tossed a large lime leaf into the simmering broth, which added just a touch more complexity. I need to make a triple batch of the stock, I always say!

  6. Thank you so much, HILL! I actually just made a veggie twist on this one last night, and you’re right – it always hits the spot…though I’m jealous of your fresh lemongrass and kaffir leaves!

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