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Thai-style Shrimp Soup (East Meets West)

Thai style shrimp soup combines the heartiness of a chowder with Asian notes of dairy-free coconut milk and curry paste. It’s a creamy, spicy, and delicious soup.

I used shrimp in this recipe, but you can add other firm flesh fish or clams as well.

thai style shrimp soup in bowl with spinach and veggies and a lime wedge.

With this recipe, you get the comfort of a typical chowder with creaminess, soft potatoes, onions, carrots, celery and thyme-marjoram-bay leaf seasonings, along with authentic Thai flavors from curry paste and creamy coconut milk. And no dairy.

I throw in some baby spinach and red bell pepper to add beautiful color (and extra nutrition) and sliced water chestnuts for a crunchy texture.

I love that I can make this delicious recipe ahead and just add the shrimp a few minutes before serving.

I made this shrimp soup on Friday evening, set down a big steaming bowl with some crusty buttered bread on the desk where my husband was playing Xbox with his friends from England (a regular Friday night stint) and went off to eat dinner with friends. Half an hour later, I received a text “Delicious chowder! Don’t change a thing!” 🙂

What you can expect

This Thai-style soup is a creamy, hearty, spicy chowder-like soup, loaded with vegetables and shrimp. Comfort food with a twist. Serve it in summer or winter as a full meal with some good bread or as a starter.

Ingredients – tailored to your taste

shrimp, celery, carrots, onions, potato, red pepper, lemon, coconut milk, curry paste, butter, flour, chicken broth, seasonings.
shrimp, celery, carrots, white or yellow onions, potato, red pepper, water chestnuts, lemon, coconut milk, curry paste, butter, flour, chicken broth, and seasonings.

Shrimp: I use large shrimp, but any size will work by adjusting the cooking time. You can use fresh shrimp or frozen and thawed.

Vegetables: I use typical chowder vegetables – onion, carrots, celery and potato. I also add red bell peppers and spinach for extra color and nutrition.

Curry paste: You can use green or red curry paste.

Coconut milk: I recommend using full-fat coconut milk (instead of light) for a richer full-bodied flavor.

Variations and substitutes

  • Vary the seafood you add such as clams, mussels, cod, or scallops.
  • Substitute seafood with cooked and shredded chicken breast.
  • Instead of shrimp, add more vegetables or tofu for a vegetarian version.
  • Use light coconut milk to reduce the calories.
  • Add a teaspoon of fish sauce and a pinch of brown sugar.
  • If you love a shrimp Thai dish but don’t want to make the chowder part, try our Thai curried shrimp and vegetables.
  • You can garnish your bowl of Thai soup with fresh herbs, like fresh parsley, green onions, fresh basil or fresh cilantro.

Step-by-step instructions

veggies sauteing in pot.
In the bottom of a large soup pot or Dutch oven, saute veggies and curry paste. Add flour and cook 2 minutes.
chowder thai style in pot with veggies.
Add broth, seasonings and coconut milk. Simmer the soup for 15-20 minutes. It will thicken slightly.
thai style shrimp soup in pot with shrimp and veggies.
Add shrimp and spinach. Cook for 3 minutes. Adjust seasonings if needed.
thai style shrimp soup in bowl with spinach and veggies and a lime wedge.
Serve with a squeeze of lemon or lime and a little lime zest for extra flavor.

Shortcuts

  • Buy shelled, deveined shrimp – pricier but a big convenient time-saver.
  • Instead of dicing the veggies with a knife, pulse them a couple of times in a food processor.

Make Ahead

The chowder can be made ahead to the point where you add the shrimp. The trick is to add the shrimp in the last few minutes of cooking to keep it tender and not rubbery.

Come to think of it, this easy shrimp soup would be a perfect dish for Christmas Eve for those who stick to a seafood menu.

What to serve with this Thai coconut shrimp soup recipe

This soup is substantial enough to serve on its own as a meal in a bowl with some crusty bread. You can also add rice noodles, white rice, jasmine rice, or cauliflower rice to bulk it up if you like.

If serving the soup as a starter, I like to stick to the Asian theme with Chinese egg fried rice and a Thai mango salad.

Recipe FAQs

Are shrimp healthy? Yes, shrimp are low in calories and an excellent source of protein, omega-3 fatty acids, B12, and iron. They do contain higher cholesterol, but this is outweighed by the many other healthy benefits. Source: Healthline. One shrimp without sauce contains 7 calories, almost no fat and 1 gram of protein.

What is the easiest way to defrost shrimp? Put them in a colander and run cold water over them until defrosted. This is the quickest way – only a few minutes. Instead, you can put them into a bowl of cold water to defrost. This will take a little longer. In both cases, dry them well once defrosted.

What is the difference between red and green curry paste? Red curry paste is spicier and made from red chilies, while green curry paste is milder and made from green chilies. Both add wonderful flavors to Thai food.

thai style shrimp soup in bowl with spinach and veggies.

More Thai style recipes

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thai style shrimp soup in bowl with spinach and veggies and a lime wedge.
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5 from 18 votes

Thai style Shrimp Soup (East Meets West)

Thai style shrimp soup combines the heartiness of a chowder with Asian notes of [dairy free] coconut milk and curry paste. Creamy, spicy and fabulous.
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time25 minutes
Total Time35 minutes
Course: Main Course, soups and starters
Cuisine: Thai-Style
Diet: Low Lactose
Servings: 3 main course (or 6 as a starter)

Ingredients

Soup-Chowder

  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 2 celery stalks, diced
  • 1/2 cup shredded or matchstick carrots
  • 1 small red pepper, cored, seeded and chopped
  • 1/2 cup diced onion
  • 1 large potato, peeled and diced
  • 1 small can water chestnuts, chopped (about 1/2 cup/62 grams)
  • 2 teaspoons red or green curry paste
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 cup chicken broth or vegetable broth
  • 1 14-ounce can unsweetened coconut milk (full fat is best)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 teaspoon thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon marjoram

Shrimp and Finishing

  • 1 pound large shrimp, peeled, deveined, chopped into 1 inch/2.5 cm pieces
  • 2 cups fresh baby spinach (optional)
  • fresh lime juice and fresh lime zest (or fresh lemon juice)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  • SAUTE VEGETABLES: In a large pot, heat the butter on medium high heat and sauté carrots, celery and onions for 5 minutes. Stir in potatoes, water chestnuts and curry paste. Stir in flour. Cook for another 2-3 minutes.
  • ADD LIQUIDS AND SEASONINGS: Add broth, coconut milk and seasonings. Bring to boil, stirring. Lower heat, cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes until vegetables are tender and broth is thickened.
  • ADD SHRIMP AND FINISH SOUP: Increase heat to medium high heat. When broth is at a low boil, stir in shrimp and spinach (if using). Cook for 3 minutes or just until shrimp turn pink. Add salt and pepper to taste. Squeeze in lemon or lime to taste, starting with 1/4 of a lemon. Remove bay leaf and serve.

Recipe Notes

  1. Variations
      • Vary the seafood you add.
      • Substitute seafood with chicken.
      • Instead of shrimp, add more vegetables or tofu for a vegetarian version.
      • Use light coconut milk to reduce the calories.
      • If you love a shrimp Thai dish but don’t want to make the chowder part, try our Thai curried shrimp and vegetables.
    •  
    •  
    •  
  2. Make ahead:
    • Store leftovers in an airtight container. Reheat gently on stovetop or in microwave. 
    • To make several hours or a day or two ahead: Complete the soup NOT including the final step with the shrimp and spinach. When ready to serve, follow the last step in the recipe – reheat soup and add spinach and shrimp. It’s best to add the shrimp just before serving to keep them plump and tender (not rubbery).
 
Nutrition values are estimates. 

Nutrition

Calories: 410kcal | Carbohydrates: 29g | Protein: 39g | Fat: 15g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Cholesterol: 412mg | Sodium: 1763mg | Potassium: 891mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 7561IU | Vitamin C: 81mg | Calcium: 277mg | Iron: 5mg
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2 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Used kale from the winter garden in lieu of spinach and boiled the prawn shells for stock. You can Thai just about anything in season and it’s always delish. Thanks for the recipe