One-Pot Wonders

Massaman-Inspired Chicken Noodle Soup

January 30, 2013
2 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
  • Serves 4 to 5 (hearty portions)
Author Notes

This dish is sort of a fusion between Massaman curry and chicken noodle soup. For those who aren't familiar with Massaman, it is a Thai curry with a lot of Indian influence. It typically contains a protein source as well as carrots, potatoes, and peanuts. I've taken liberties with the spicing both to suit my taste, and to make it fairly simple. It's best when made with a homemade chicken stock, but in a pinch I have used Swanson's Natural Goodness Low-sodium Chicken Broth diluted with water to good effect. The stock is infused with aromatics and fish sauce to give it some Thai flavors, then seasoned with sweet curry powder to add an Indian flair. Bone-in breasts give the dish a slightly meatier flavor, while the dish made with boneless breasts is a bit lighter and more floral. The coconut milk rounds out the flavors and adds richness. I like using the carrots in 2 forms -- cooked rounds for sweetness, and raw julienne strips for texture. The potatoes and noodles add heft. The peanuts add texture and flavor. The combination is extremely satisfying without seeming overly heavy. This dish can be prepped and cooked in just under an hour, yet it yields a surprisingly complex flavor. It's my new go-to jazzed up version of chicken soup for when I've got a cold, or just need a comforting bowl of warm goodness. —hardlikearmour

What You'll Need
  • 6 cups chicken stock (or substitute 2 cans low-sodium chicken broth + 2 1/2 cups water)
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce, plus additional to taste
  • 2 stalks lemongrass
  • A 4- to 5-inch-long piece ginger root, about 1-inch in diameter
  • 4 large garlic cloves
  • 2 Thai bird chiles (adjust to taste -- 2 gives the final soup a mild to medium amount of heat)
  • 2 large chicken breasts (boneless, skinless or bone-in split)
  • 3 large, fat carrots
  • 10 to 15 baby yellow or red potatoes, depending on size
  • 1/4 cup unsalted, roasted peanuts, plus additional for garnish
  • salt (optional)
  • 3 scallions (4 if they're really skinny)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons (1/2 tablespoon) sweet curry powder
  • 1 cup full-fat coconut milk
  • 2 packages pre-boiled udon noodles, 12 to 14 ounces total
  1. Heat chicken stock and 1 tablespoon fish sauce in a 4- to 6-quart stock pot over medium-high heat. Remove the outer tough and battered leaves from the lemongrass. Cut the root ends off, leaving enough to hold the leaves together, then cut the stalks into 6-inch long pieces. Carefully cut the stalks into halves lengthwise. Add to the stock. Peel the ginger and cut it into 1/8-inch planks; add them to the stock. Smash and peel the garlic cloves, trying to keep the cloves intact; add them to the stock. Remove the stem ends from the chiles, then cut the chiles in half lengthwise and use a spoon to scrape out the seeds. Add the chiles to the stock. Increase the heat to high and bring the stock to a simmer.
  2. While the stock is heating, prep the chicken breasts. If they are boneless and skinless, trim any excess fat. If they are bone-in and skin-on, remove the skins and trim any excess fat. Set them aside until the stock has reached a simmer.
  3. Start prepping the carrots and potatoes. Peel the carrots and cut away the stem end. Using a julienne peeler (or very good knife skills), julienne away the outer layers of the carrots so you have skinnier carrots of fairly even diameter from top to bottom. Set the julienned carrot aside for garnishing the finished soup. Cut the now skinny carrots into 1/2- to 3/4-inch rounds. Place rounds into a prep bowl. Wash (and scrub if needed) the baby potatoes. Cut them into quarters or halves depending on their size. If cutting in halves, cut them lengthwise rather than crosswise to increase cooking surface area. You want to have roughly equal parts carrot and potato. Add the potatoes to the cut carrots. Add 1/4 cup peanuts to the bowl as well.
  4. The stock may reach a simmer before you finish prepping the carrots and potatoes. When it does, take a small spoonful, cool it a bit, and taste for salt. It should be just a bit on the salty side so it can season the chicken and the veggies; it will seem less salty once the soup is finished. Adjust with either more fish sauce or salt (this will vary depending on the salt in the stock/broth and the brand of fish sauce you use -- trust your palate!). Add the chicken, and reduce the heat to maintain a gentle simmer. Simmer until the chicken is cooked through, about 15 to 20 minutes (cut into a breast to check -- there shouldn't be any pink).
  5. While the chicken is cooking, finish prepping the carrots and potatoes if needed. Prep the scallions by removing any wilted “leaves” and root ends. Cut the scallions into thin, bias-cut slices, including all but the last few inches of the greens. Set aside. (There will probably be extra time here, so get the curry powder and coconut milk measured, and open the packages of udon noodles, then start clean-up.)
  6. Once the chicken is done, remove it to a plate. Strain the aromatics from the stock, either by using a skimmer or by pouring the mix through a strainer into a large bowl. Return stock to pot if needed, and stir in curry powder. Increase heat to medium-high, and return the stock to a simmer. Add the carrots, potatoes, and peanuts; simmer until tender, adjusting heat as needed, about 10 minutes.
  7. After the chicken has cooled at least 5 minutes, shred the meat into reasonably bite-sized shreds. Discard bones and gristle if present.
  8. Once the carrots and potatoes are tender, stir in the coconut milk, shredded chicken (and any accumulated juices), about 3/4 of the sliced scallions, and the udon noodles. Cook until udon noodles and chicken are heated through, about 2 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning with either salt or fish sauce if needed. Remove from heat, and serve -- dividing between bowls, and topping each bowl with julienned carrots, and garnishing with scallions and peanuts.
  9. (Note: I've also made this with a full can of coconut milk, but find the coconut becomes a bit of a flavor bully. If you're a big fan of coconut, feel free to go this route, but serve the soup with a squeeze of lime to help balance the flavor better.)

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • bookdwarf
  • Lynda Waters Brown
    Lynda Waters Brown
  • Melissa
  • Aysha | The Malabar Tea Room
    Aysha | The Malabar Tea Room
  • Jamie Ann Hernandez
    Jamie Ann Hernandez
I am an amateur baker and cake decorator. I enjoy cooking, as well as eating and feeding others. I live in the beautiful Pacific Northwest with my husband and our menagerie. I enjoy outdoor activities including hiking, mushroom hunting, tide pooling, beach combing, and snowboarding.

44 Reviews

tara April 24, 2021
I've made this many times, especially in winter or when recovering from a cold, and it's always delicious. My 4 year old loves it, too (we make it without the chiles for her). I often roast a whole chicken and save the breasts for this soup the next night. I'll leave a pan under the roasting chicken and collect the juices and use them with water for the soup broth. I tend to use whole curry leaves (keep them in the freezer) instead of powder, and lemongrass tea instead of stalks (hard to find where I live). We have a little kefir lime tree out back and I'll cut a leaf and drop it into the broth, too. Overall a lovely recipe, more than the sum of its parts.
Nina October 3, 2018
I have made this soup every fall/winter for years it is my absolute favorite - I follow the recipe to the letter it has never let me down, sub the udon noodles for leftover rice/brown rice if you have, it sucks in the flavor
Renee B. December 9, 2016
This sounds and looks incredibly delicious. We froze the cooked legs of our Thanksgiving turkey. Do you think that these could be used instead of raw chicken breasts?
hardlikearmour December 9, 2016
Yes. I'd just shred the meat, and add it at the end.
Melissa December 9, 2016
Yes, I've done many adaptations and save trips to the grocery store. Yum!
Renee B. December 9, 2016
Thank you hardlikearmour and Melissa. It's freezing cold here in Metro DC area — perfect soup weather.
Better T. February 20, 2016
I just love it when I don't have to go to the grocery store for dinner makings. I was lucky enough to have all of the ingredients on hand. I also added a bit of browned ground pork ( with the curry), a spoonful or two of massaman chili paste, and some fresh Thai basil. Delicious Saturday night dinner!
bookdwarf February 20, 2016
Do you think it would work with beans instead of noodles?
hardlikearmour February 21, 2016
Probably. You could also increase the potatoes and/or carrots a bit and just omit the noodles.
Lynda W. February 19, 2016
I cannot cut or use raw chilis. The fumes cause me breathing problems .. think it is an allergy. Is there something I could use as a replacement to still add a little heat?
hardlikearmour February 20, 2016
If you're good with dried chiles you could add cayenne, or a few splashes of your favorite hot sauce.
Lynda W. February 20, 2016
Perfect, either will work. Thanks!
Ashley January 30, 2015
Omg this is amazing. I'm a chicken noodle soup once a year kind of person but this is right up my alley. Huge hit for dinner on a cold, stressful weekday evening. Vary it up with any kind of noodle you have - I had some (green) Asian vegetable noodles that made a great addition. Easy, flavorful, lots options for topping. Was out of scallions so used some chopped cilantro, the peanuts and a squeeze of lime. Thanks very much for sharing.
Melissa January 25, 2015
Just made this and both my husband and I really liked it. I couldn't find lemongrass in my small city, so I substituted 2 tbsp of lemongrass paste. Also, I used some homemade curry powder that I had in the pantry, made from Madjur Jaffrey's recipe that I found online.
Aysha |. January 6, 2015
This looks so good! Will definitely give it a try!
Jamie A. November 4, 2014
I made this tonight just as written. I loved it! The only thing is how do I get it to be more soupy?
hardlikearmour November 4, 2014
You could cut back on the "goodies" -- eliminate the potatoes, or just scale back on everything.
Nancy M. November 3, 2014
I can't find fresh lemongrass in my area - are there any substitutions that would do?
hardlikearmour November 3, 2014
I'd probably try either lemongrass tea (dried lemongrass) or lemon zest instead.
Crispin December 16, 2014
Most stores now sell Lemongrass in tubes. Look in the produce aisle next to the fresh herbs.
john January 19, 2015
Mostly would find it in asian stores
Deborah R. November 2, 2014
This looks amazing! Have you tried it with low-fat coconut milk? If so, how does it change the taste?
hardlikearmour November 2, 2014
I've not made it with low-fat coconut milk, but suspect it would work. Maybe you'd need to add the whole can?
Deborah R. November 2, 2014
I made the soup for dinner tonight and it was DELISH! I made it with 8 cups of broth, kept most of the lemongrass, ginger and garlic in the soup after I added the torn up chicken. I also used a 11 ounce container of low-fat coconut milk. I couldn't tell the difference. Very filling!
Shalini November 2, 2014
aargersi, the flavours in your soup are very akin to a lakhsa soup, but the carrots, potatoes and precooked udon make it so much more like a chicken noodle soup! Can't wait to try it. I am looking for anti-inflammatory foods to tolerate for my gut, and this looks delicious.
Shalini November 2, 2014
I mean hardlikearmour not arrgersi!
walkie74 November 2, 2014
I'm curious--what exactly is sweet curry powder? And could I find it at my local Indian store, or do I have to order it online?
hardlikearmour November 2, 2014
It's the mild version of yellow curry powder. I use the Penzey's blend, and they call it sweet.
gingerroot February 8, 2013
I could live on this soup! All the flavors I love in a bowl. YUM!
meganvt01 February 2, 2013
This looks fantastic! I feel like I can smell that wonderful curry scent just from looking at the picture and hearing your description. yum.
hardlikearmour February 3, 2013
Thank you, megan! The combination of Thai and Indian seasoning is pretty fantastic.
drbabs January 30, 2013
You are so creative. Love this!
hardlikearmour January 31, 2013
Thank you, drb!
lapadia January 30, 2013
Yum, love Thai anything. The testing, melding of ingredients, balancing of flavors are so carefully thought out to perfection; every job complete is a portrait of a person’s self, thanks for sharing your delicious and inviting recipe!
hardlikearmour January 30, 2013
Thanks, l! That's some high praise!
aargersi January 30, 2013
A bunch of my very favorite flavors - yum!!!
hardlikearmour January 30, 2013
Me too! The 2 foods I could eat daily, and not get sick of, are curry in some form and pizza.
boulangere January 30, 2013
Oh my, this looks wonderful!
hardlikearmour January 30, 2013
Thank you, B! My husband and I gobbled it up.