A creamy coconut curry broth is one of our favorite genres of creamy and cozy. Bold in flavor and decadently creamy while also being surprisingly light. Our Thai Coconut Soup features an aromatic coconut broth, thin noodle-like strands of cabbage, and tender shrimp.

This soup recipe is part of our SOUP-er Simple Series! This means it has a short ingredient list, quick cook time, and loads of flavor. The goal is to give you more than enough soup recipes to get you through cold weeknights when all you want is something savory and steaming on the table in 30 minutes or so.

In order to be apart of the SOUP-er Simple Series, each recipe needs to be 10 ingredients or less, ready in under 45 minutes but tastes like it took a long time.

Why This is The Best Thai Coconut Soup

In this recipe we highlight the gorgeous flavors of the Thai cuisine while taking some creative liberties. It’s meant to inspire you to try new flavors and get comfortable cooking with them (all while getting dinner on the table quickly). 

For a traditional Thai Coconut Soup, check out this Tom Kha Gai Soup (Thai Coconut Chicken Soup) from Hot Thai Kitchen.

The beauty of this coconut curry soup is that every single component is incredibly quick cooking. We rely on heavy hitters (fish sauce, curry paste, coconut milk, and shrimp) to add tons of flavor just by adding them to the pot (i.e. you don’t have to caramelize or simmer to bring out their flavors).

Additionally, we add thin shreds of cabbage which are absolutely heavenly. A quick stint in the simmering coconut broth turns them into something resemblant of rice noodles.

cooked shrimp in an orange-hued broth topped with herbs, lime zest and scallions

Ingredients in Thai Coconut Soup

  • Curry paste is one of our favorite shortcut ingredients. Use a hearty amount of paste instead of grating and mincing fresh lemongrass, ginger, and garlic. If you can find a quality curry paste, you’re halfway there with just about any curry dish. We usually have good luck finding a nice paste at Whole Foods, but when in doubt, Thai Kitchen is a good go-to brand. 
  • Herbs add a lot of flavor and brightness. You’ll need one bunch each cilantro and scallions (green onions)
  • Lime also add brightness in the form of both lime zest and juice. Use a microplane to get small shreds of zest.
  • Fish sauce is one of the most important ingredients in Southeast Asian cooking. Made from fermented fish, fish sauce is loaded with umami and quite potent. One sniff and you’ll be concerned for your dish. But similarly to the use of anchovies in French and Italian cooking, it simply adds depth of flavor and savoriness instead of making it taste “fishy.” Once opened, store fish sauce in the refrigerator. 
  • Canned coconut milk is key to making a luscious broth. We recommend using full-fat coconut milk, because, yum. It should also be noted that without the coconut milk, this soup doesn’t use a whole lot of fat—just two teaspoons of coconut oil. Everything else is essentially fat-free. So go on, use the full-fat coconut milk. You’ll thank us later! 
  • Broth thins out the coconut milk and adds a nice level of salt to the soup. Use chicken broth, seafood broth or even bottled clam juice.
  • Cabbage is a surprising ingredient that truly makes this dish shine. When thinly sliced and cooked in the broth, they become so tender they are almost noodle-like. Be sure to slice the cabbage very thin!
  • Shrimp is the protein star of this dish! If you aren’t near a coast and don’t have the luxury of quality fresh seafood, opt for frozen peeled and deveined shrimp. Seek out a product that lists “shrimp” as the only ingredient. For this recipe you can use large (31/40) to extra-large (26/30) shrimp.
shrimp, curry paste, coconut milk,fish sauce, cabbage, broth, and coconut oil measured out and arranged on a counter

How to Make Thai Coconut Soup

  1. Bloom the aromatics by cooking scallion whites, cilantro, curry paste and lime zest in hot coconut oil.
  2. Add the broth, coconut milk and fish sauce and bring to a simmer.
  3. Simmer the cabbage until it starts to become tender.
  4. Stir in the shrimp and remove the pot from heat. Let the soup sit just until the shrimp is cooked through.
  5. Finish the soup with scallion greens, lime juice and additional fish sauce. Season to taste with salt.
  6. Top each serving with more scallion greens and cilantro.

Make Ahead, storage and reheating tips

  • Prep all of your ingredients before you start cooking. Once you get started, the process is very fast.  
  • Store leftovers in an airtight glass container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
  • When reheating leftovers, be sure to gently reheat the soup on the stovetop over low heat. Bring to a low simmer and cook just until heated through. Any vigorous simmering or boiling with drastically over-cook the shrimp. 
cooked shrimp in an orange-hued broth topped with herbs, lime zest and scallions

How to Serve

Finish each serving of soup with additional fresh cilantro and sliced scallions. For some additional carbs you could serve this with Cilantro Lime Rice, Homemade Naan, or Milk Buns.

FAQs

Can I freeze this soup?

You can! Because this soup is made with coconut milk and not dairy milk or cream, it freezes nicely. Let the soup cool completely at room temperature then transfer to a glass airtight container and freeze until solid. Let it thaw overnight in the refrigerator before gently reheating.

I have green curry paste, can I use that?

We haven’t tested this, but we don’t recommend it. We prefer the flavor of red curry paste for dishes that feature shrimp. In a pinch, you can try it. Let us know how it goes!

Can I use seafood stock instead of chicken broth?

Absolutely! If you can find seafood stock, by all means, use it! We found it hard to find, which is why we opted for readily-available chicken broth. You could also try bottled clam juice.

I’d like to bulk it up with more veggies. What do you recommend?

You can add anything you have on hand! Thin slices of red bell pepper and mushrooms are traditional in Tom Kha Gai. Thin slices of white onion, broccoli, and snow peas would all be delicious as well.

¼ cup of curry paste seems like a lot?!

A quarter cup of curry paste is a lot, but we found it to be the perfect amount. We use Thai Kitchen curry paste and it doesn’t make this overly spicy. If you’re worried about spice, give the paste a quick taste before using and adjust as you see fit.

What are some good one-pot gluten-and dairy-free recipes?

This is one of them! You’d also like our Beef and Cabbage Soup, Quick Curried Chicken and Lentil Soup, and our Caldo Verde.

Is it better to cook with vegetable oil or coconut oil?

We believe it all comes down to preference. We often choose coconut oil because it actually adds flavor, whereas vegetable oil does not.

Quick Thai Coconut Soup with Shrimp

5 from 6 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Yield 4 servings (9 cups)
Category Soup
Cuisine Thai-inspired

Description

Our Thai Coconut Soup features an aromatic coconut broth, thin noodle-like strands of cabbage, and tender shrimp. Bold in flavor and ready in 20—what more could you want?

Ingredients

  • 2 teaspoons coconut oil
  • 1 bunch scallions (6–7 scallions), white parts minced, green parts sliced
  • ½ cup minced fresh cilantro, divided
  • ¼ cup red curry paste
  • 1 limes, zested and juiced
  • 4 teaspoons fish sauce, divided
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1 (13.5-ounce) can full-fat coconut milk
  • ½ pound green cabbage, thinly sliced (about 5 cups)
  • 1 –1½ pounds extra-large shrimp (26/30 count), peeled and deveined
  • Morton kosher salt

Instructions

  • Heat oil in large saucepan over medium heat until shimmering. Add scallion whites, ¼ cup cilantro, curry paste and 1 teaspoon lime zest; cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes.
    scallions, curry paste, and cilantro cooking in a large pot
  • Stir in 2 teaspoons fish sauce, broth, and coconut milk and bring to boil over high heat. Add cabbage, reduce heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes.
    creamy broth in the pot with minced scallions and cilantro
  • Add shrimp, remove pot from heat, and allow shrimp cook in hot soup until it turns pink, about 2 minutes.
    creamy shrimp soup in a pot
  • Stir in half of dark scallion greens, 2 tablespoons lime juice and remaining 2 teaspoons fish sauce. Season with salt to taste (about ½ teaspoon kosher salt).
  • Portion soup into serving bowls and sprinkle with scallion greens, cilantro, and lime zest. Serve.

Video

Notes

we don’t think you’ll have leftovers, but if you do: when you’re ready to reheat the leftovers, do so gently over low heat. Any vigorous simmering or boiling with drastically over-cook the shrimp. 

Nutrition

Serving: 2¼ cupsCalories: 277kcalCarbohydrates: 7.5gProtein: 39gFat: 8.5gSaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 332mgSodium: 2100mgFiber: 3gSugar: 3.5g
Like this? Leave a comment below!I love hearing from you and I want to hear how it went with this recipe! Leave a comment and rating below, then share on social media @zestfulkitchen and #zestfulkitchen!
cooked shrimp in an orange-hued broth topped with herbs, lime zest and scallions

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About The Author

Lauren Grant is a professional culinary food scientist, food writer, recipe developer, and food photographer. Lauren is a previous magazine editor and test kitchen developer and has had work published in major national publications including Diabetic Living Magazine, Midwest Living Magazine, Cuisine at Home Magazine, EatingWell.com, AmericasTestKitchen.com, and more.

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Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Writing this over my steaming bowl. Made this tonight and it is excellent. Prepared as written except for one minor change – I used lite coconut milk simply because I am working on losing the baby weight. With that small change, it’s quite a healthy soup. I’m sure it would only be more delicious with the full fat version though! I used a bag of preshredded cabbage (picked over for any large chunks) to make it come together even faster. Do not let the cabbage scare you away, the shreds really do act like noodles. Thank you for a very fast and satisfying soup to add to my rotation. (Under step three I believe you’ve written “top” when you meant “pot”)

    1. Hi Bess, thanks so much for the comment! I am so glad you enjoyed this soup and love the changes you made (genius to use a bag of pre-shredded cabbage). Thanks for catching that misspelling, changing now!

  2. I bought some Key West shrimp without a destination and decided to use them making this soup. I read the recipe 3 times going back and forth to avoid surprises. My first comment is I really like the ingredient list save and except the absence of garlic and fresh ginger. I supplemented the recipe and added the garlic during the first step and the ginger in the second step. My second comment is you would need to be a Black-belt sou chef to prepare this dish in 10 minutes. Is that a misprint? I’m fairly proficient but just the deveining is about 10 minutes assuming you did devein and you washed the shrimp are that step. Since my mandolin is at the other house I had to use a chef’s knife. Maybe another 3-5 mins. OK, so I am slow. Took me a good 30 minutes to gather the ingredients, slice and dice and set the stage. I slightly modified cook time, lengthened it, but all else per spec. I liked the result but thought it was a little “bland” or weak. I love Thai food and have travelled in SE Asia so have some familiarity. I am not certain what I would do the next time but probably more Red Curry and onion and maybe use a fish stock. Anyway thanks for the recipe and I will consider tonight’s effort a “Draft Copy”. Best regards

    1. Hi David,

      Thanks for your thorough comment on this recipe. The reason I did not include fresh ginger and garlic is because those are both usually in curry paste. This recipe is part of our Soup-er Simple Series which is focused on offering quick-cooking soups with short ingredient lists. But I can definitely see how some additional curry paste could bump up the flavor.

      You can absolutely use fish stock or clam stock instead of chicken stock, or simply increase the fish sauce.

      And finally on the prep—I’m sorry to hear it took you a bit longer. I usually purchase frozen peeled and deveined shrimp so that step is taken out of the equation. Right there saves 10 minutes of prep as you said.

      Thanks for trying this and offering your review.