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Meet one of my favorite meals on the blog! This recipe for Laksa Soup – Malaysian Coconut Curry Soup is full of amazing flavor and surprisingly simple to make. The secret to this soup is its flavorful base, and rich coconut broth enhanced with Laksa paste -which you can make from scratch or buy.
Add your choice of protein to the flavorful coconut broth, then ladle it over fresh rice noodles, top with a handful of crunchy bean sprouts, fresh cilantro, and mint, and serve with lime wedges. So much flavor here friends!
It’s a soup that takes you far, far away, and it has been a hit at home when the temperatures are cooler.
How to make Laksa Soup | 2-min video
What you’ll need to Make Laksa Soup:
- peanut oil or coconut oil
- Homemade Laksa Paste (see recipe) – or buy 1-2 jars (7-ounce) of store-bought Laksa Paste – ( I like this brand- see notes)
- chicken stock or broth
- lime leaves
- brown sugar or palm sugar
- chicken (breast or thigh meat) or sub fish or crispy tofu
- raw large shrimp (or more chicken or veggies)
- coconut milk. Do not use “lite” – and if you like an even richer broth, add a third can.
- lime juice
- fish sauce
- ice noodles
- Garnishes: bean sprouts, lime wedges, cilantro or Vietnamese mint, scallions, sambal chili paste, fried shallots (available in jars at an Asian market)
- OPTIONAL ADDITIONS or Substitutions: Fried tofu cubes, fish balls ( frozen), scallops or other firm fish, clams, mussels, and veggies like snow peas, mushrooms, carrots, bell pepper, chopped spinach or greens
What is Laksa Paste made of?
Laksa paste is a blend of lemongrass, dried chilies, shallots, galanga, turmeric, spices, dried shrimp and shrimp paste, all blended up in the food processor, then sautéed in a little oil to deepen the flavor.
It will take you on a fun adventure to your local Asian market, perhaps introducing you to new ingredients and can be made authentically from scratch.
Or if you prefer, I’ve included an easier, fast “cheater version” as well, using store-bought laksa paste.
Like I said, the easy “cheater version”, is simply to purchase pre-made Laksa Paste in a jar. I like this brand!
Or if you want to make the laksa paste from scratch – it’s actually not that hard and has no preservatives or msg.
If making laksa paste from scratch, just make sure you have all the ingredients before you start.
Laksa Paste Ingredients:
- dried red chilies
- dried shrimp (available at Asian Markets) optional photo above
- garlic cloves
- fresh turmeric (ground turmeric is OK, too)
- candlenuts or substitute soaked cashews, brazil nuts or macadamia nuts (soak in hot water 15 mins- optional- you can leave the nuts out)
- shrimp paste (or shrimp sauce) optional, but elevates
- sweet paprika
- peanut oil or coconut oil olive
How to make Laksa Paste
While they are steeping, chop up the rest of the Laksa paste ingredients- shallot, lemongrass, garlic, turmeric, and galanga, and place them in a food processor.
Be sure to finely chop galangal root, turmeric root and lemongrass.
If you can’t find fresh turmeric, ground is fine.
Add the drained chilis, soaked dried shrimp, and nuts and blend it all up until it becomes a vibrantly colored paste.
Laksa Soup Variations:
- fried puffy tofu (above) available at Asian markets (refrigerated)
- thinly sliced chicken
- fresh fish and seafood
- fish balls (available at Asian market, frozen)
The best firm fish for soups or stews:
You generally want to use firm white fish for most stews and soups, because they will hold their shape and not disintegrate in the liquid. Here are 10 of the best fish (and seafood) to use in soups and stews.
- sea bass
- black cod
- red snapper
- Cook dry rice noodles according to directions on the package or use fresh rice noodles that can be purchased at the Asian market -just dip them in boiling water for 30 seconds to heat them up before serving.
- Do not add the noodles to the soup– rather, ladle the soup over the noodles in the bowl.
- Be sure to use a rich, full-fat brand of coconut milk. I love Mae Ploy, for its thickness and extra-large size.
- Taste the soup and adjust lime and fish sauce to your taste.
- Garnishes are everything! Lime wedges, chili sauce (like Sriracha or sambal) bean sprouts and lots of fresh herbs – cilantro and mint. Crispy shallots add nice texture and can be found at the Asian market in a jar.
More recipes you may like:
- 15 MINUTE THAI COCONUT NOODLE SOUP (KHAO SOI)
- Sinigang (Filipino Sour Soup)
- Tom Kha Gai (Thai Coconut Chicken Soup)
- Thai Green Curry Noodle Soup
- Thai Chicken Noodle Soup
- Ginger Sesame Soba Noodle Soup
- Peanut Chili Crunch (Seroendeng)
Laksa Soup – A Malaysian Coconut Curry Soup
- Prep Time: 30 mins
- Cook Time: 25 mins
- Total Time: 45 mins
- Yield: 8 1x
- Category: Main
- Method: stove top
- Cuisine: malaysian
- Diet: Gluten Free
Comforting Laksa Soup Recipe – A Malaysian-style coconut curry noodle soup, that can be made with chicken or shrimp and rice noodles with fresh bean spouts, lime and cilantro. Makes 10 1/2 cups broth
- 3 tablespoons peanut oil or coconut oil
- 1 recipe for Laksa Paste (see notes below) – or sub 1–2 (7-ounce) jars of store-bought Laksa Paste – ( I like this brand- see notes)
- 6 cups chicken stock or broth
- 8 lime leaves
- 1 teaspoon salt, more to taste
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar or palm sugar
- 1 1/2 pounds raw chicken (breast or thigh meat) cut into thin, bite-sized pieces (or sub fish or crispy tofu)
- 1 pound raw large shrimp (raw, peeled, or sub firm fish, or more chicken or veggies )
- 2 x 13.5–ounce cans full-fat coconut milk. Do not use “lite” – and if you like an even richer broth, add a third can.
- Juice from 1–2 limes
- fish sauce to taste ( I use 1 tablespoon)
- 1 pound dry rice noodles (2 ounces per person) (or 1 1/2 – 2 lbs fresh rice noodles from the refrigerated section of the Asian market).
- Garnishes: bean sprouts, lime wedges, cilantro, Vietnamese mint, scallions, sambal chili paste, fried shallots (available in jars at an Asian market)
- OPTIONAL ADDITIONS or Substitutions: Fried tofu cubes, fish balls ( frozen), scallops or other firm fish, clams, mussels, and veggies like snow peas, mushrooms, carrots, bell pepper, chopped spinach or greens etc….
Homemade Laksa Paste
- 3–5 dried red chilies, ( 3 is medium spicy), soaked in hot water
- 2 tablespoons dried shrimp, soaked in hot water (available at Asian Markets) optional see notes
- 3–5 shallots (about 1 cup) roughly chopped
- 4 garlic cloves
- 3 tablespoons galanga – finely chopped
- 2 large lemongrass stocks – finely chopped (1/2 cup chopped) – feel free to use frozen chopped lemongrass at the Asian market.
- 2 teaspoons fresh turmeric (ground turmeric is OK, too)
- 6 candlenuts- optional (or substitute 12 soaked cashews, brazil nuts or macadamia nuts -soak in hot water 15 mins) AND you can leave the nuts out!
- 1 tablespoon shrimp paste (or shrimp sauce) optional
- 2 teaspoons ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
- 3 tablespoons peanut oil or coconut oil.
- Make the Laksa paste- see the notes below (or use store-bought laksa paste).
- Cook rice noodles according to directions. Set aside. See notes for fresh noodles.
- In a large heavy-bottom soup pot or dutch oven, heat 3 tablespoons oil over medium-high heat. Add all the homemade Laksa Paste (or the 7-ounce Jar), and saute, stirring constantly until it becomes very fragrant and deep in color about 2-3 minutes. (Turn stove fan on- it will smell strong- don’t worry.). Add the chicken broth, scraping up all the brown bits. Add the lime leaves, salt and sugar and bring to a simmer.
- Add chicken and simmer 4-5 minutes. Add shrimp, cook for 2-3 minutes, add coconut milk. Simmer until heated through. Do not boil this too long or you will lose the lovely sweetness from the coconut milk– just gently warm.
- Add lime juice, starting with a 1 lime, and add more to taste. Add fish sauce to taste, adding a teaspoon at a time. The broth should taste rich and deep, and slightly salty (the noodles will mellow the salt out) and just a little limey. If it tastes, too “fishy” add more lime juice. Guests can squeeze more lime to taste. If you want more heat, add chili flakes or chili paste.
- Divide the cooked rice noodles among bowls. Ladle flavorful soup over top of noodles. Top bowls with a handful of fresh bean sprouts, fresh cilantro and/or mint. Serve with chili sauce and lime wedges.
- For rice noodles, calculate two ounces ( dry rice noodles ) per person.
- To make Laksa Paste: Soak dried chilies and dried shrimp in a small bowl of boiling water for 20 minutes. Chop and place all the other ingredients, except the oil in a food processor. Chop Well. Drain shrimp and chilies and add to food processor. Blend until very finely chopped, scraping down sides as needed. The finer, the better. Add oil and continue blending until it becomes a fine paste. (Don’t let the smell or taste scare you. It will all balance out in the end when you add the lime juice.)
- If using store-bought laksa, use one or two 7 ounce jars, or one 14 ounce jar. You could start conservatively ( 1 jar) if unsure of the brand- some brands are much spicier than others and add more paste to the final broth, to taste.
- If using fresh rice noodles, just give them a quick dip in boiling water. They don’t need to “cook”.
- You can also keep cooked shrimp, tofu, or chicken on the side- for guests- to add to their own individual bowls as they choose. Leftover rotisserie chicken or baked chicken breast ( lightly shredded) work well here. Even leftover turkey.
- If in a pinch, you can make this without the shrimp paste or dried shrimp- adding more fish sauce to taste and understanding you will lose the lovely depth and authenticity. That being said, it will still taste pretty good. 😉
- Serving Size:
- Calories: 485
- Sugar: 2.2 g
- Sodium: 1023.5 mg
- Fat: 20.3 g
- Saturated Fat: 12 g
- Carbohydrates: 49.9 g
- Fiber: 0.9 g
- Protein: 25.1 g
- Cholesterol: 66.7 mg
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Can a non spicy version of this soup be made?
Yes- I would suggest making the paste from scratch and cutting back on the chilies. YOu can also use less storebought laksa paste, but that is where the flavor is too, so you would have to enhance/season the broth a bit more.
Yum yum yum! This was soooo good! I used store bought laksa paste, but for some reason I can no longer buy it in my country (Norway), so I am so pleased to have a recipe available here for the next time. Thank you so much for all your delicious and inspiring recipes! Reading your weekly emails and gaining inspiration from your ‘what to cook’ suggestions makes me feel happy and it motivates me to venture out and try dishes that I sometimes had never even heard of before!
So happy you enjoyed this and are enjoying the weekly emails!
Ok, so this recipe has turned into a serious part of my life. I refuse to tell people where I got it, so I have at least 3 dozen people that request a “Laksa Spice Ball” every two weeks. I make almost 10 pounds of the mixture every week, freeze portions and give it to people. Every so often I’ll give them a bottle of the Laksa Paste jar and say, compare the two and let me know. I figure by next year I’ll have 40 or 50 families that want the spice back every month. I’m strange I guess, I like making it. Galangal smells so good, and with the garlic it’s so good. The only change I made is I use belacan shrimp paste, comes in a brick. I go through a boat load of this stuff. The key is to roast it much the way a hooka pipe uses aluminum foil. DO IT OUTSIDE or your significant other will divorce you. Heat it with a propane torch until its starts to turn powdery-ish. You’ll know. And then just thrown it in the blender AFTER it cools. Clean you stuff outside! You’ve been warned. The other thing I do , which doesn’t alter the recipe is to add some powdered annatto to the spice ball mixture so that it gets that shimmery red you find in the airport laksa stands in Australia and Malaysia. By the way, and it’s just my opinion, get candle nuts online or don’t bother making the soup. It is key and you’ll notice the difference. Use Kaffir Lime leaves as well. Go for the gold if you’re going to make the recipe. All of the hard stuff is a one or two day delivery on Amazon. EAT!!!!!!
I love this John! Thanks for your suggestions!
I feel guilty for not rating this sooner as it is my go to recipe for laksa. The laksa paste is perfect and I always make a double batch.
Thank you for posting this wonderful recipe. You have made many hungry tummies happy.
Thanks Sally, don’t feel guilty, you are rating it now! Very appreciated and so happy you like this one!
We had Laksa soup in a Gherka Restaurant and loved it. I want to make it myself and your recipe seems so good I am going to give it a try.
You should Joyce! I love this recipe-let us know how it turns out!
can you substitute the laksa paste for Thai red chili paste? My local stores don’t carry laksa paste.
Hi Jayde- It will be different- but should still be tasty. The Red Curry paste may be a bit spicer too.