I taught some workshops over the weekend at a local Women’s Conference for our church.  We tackled a bunch of common challenges people face when it comes to getting meals on the table and some ideas for solutions.  Two of the most common issues we hear are “I have no time!” and “I have a low budget!”  So I set off to follow my own advice and create a quick and easy meal out of some really inexpensive ingredients.  My aim was to demonstrate that inexpensive and easy doesn’t have to mean tasteless and boring!

I opened up my pantry in search of the most plain, cheap ingredient I could find, and my eyes immediately spotted these:

Ramen noodles!  Twenty cents.  I remember when I was in college (which wasn’t that long ago) they were a nickle a piece.  If I ever have to pay more than a quarter for a pack of ramen I’m not sure I could do it.  With a few simple, and relatively inexpensive ingredients that I already had on hand, I could take plain ol’ ramen and turn it into something amazing.  I purposely kept this really simple and omitted a long list of ethnic ingredients often called for in similar recipes.  You can certainly add other things like garlic, lemongrass, fish sauce, curry paste, chili paste, more veggies, etc.  But the whole point of this recipe is to be quick, easy, and affordable!  I’ll promise you’ll be impressed at what so few ingredients can do, this soup is really good.

Start with  a little minced jalapeno and ginger.  The jalapeno doesn’t add any heat, just flavor- this isn’t a spicy soup at all.  (Click here for a tutorial on working with jalapenos.) I usually have fresh ginger in my freezer (click here for info and a tutorial on fresh ginger) but you could use dry ground ginger as well.  You could certainly add minced garlic in here too; I didn’t because I was going for super quick and easy and I didn’t feel like looking for my garlic press.  True story.

Give it a quick saute to soften the texture and  mellow the flavors

and then add in some chicken broth

and some coconut milk, which will give the soup a creamy texture and a subtle sweetness.  Light coconut milk works great, and remember you can buy coconut milk in cartons by the dairy milk as well, and it’s much cheaper per ounce there than it is for a can.  At my store it was .05 cents per ounce, which would make the equivalent can about .67 cents.  Generally a can of coconut milk $2- $3 a can so the carton is a great deal comparatively.  The cartons are lower in calories and fat and have a consistency similar to the light coconut milk (which is thinner than full fat coconut milk).  For some recipes I prefer canned coconut milk, but for this soup, either will work just fine.

Once that mixture comes to a simmer, add in the ramen noodles.  Don’t add in the seasoning packet that comes in the ramen- you can ditch that.  I always break mine up because I think it’s easier to eat when the noodles aren’t 27 feet long.

Just cook it for as long as it takes your noodles to cook, which is only about 3-5 minutes.  If you like mushrooms, you can add some in now and simmer for a couple of minutes.  Then add in a little diced chicken.  I used leftover rotisserie chicken, which makes it even quicker and easier.

Since the chicken is already cooked, it just needs to heat through, so just let it cook for a minute to do that and then remove the pan from heat.  Finish it off with a big squeeze of fresh lime juice and some chopped cilantro.

And then you can garnish it with more cilantro, a sprinkle of green onions and a lime wedge.

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Creamy, flavorful, and delicious.

The best part is that it can be on the table in less than 20 minutes and it clocks in at only about $1.20 per serving.  Not too shabby!

 

 

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77comments

  1. 1
    Patti says:

    You’re waiting for me to comment on the cilantro, right? Other than that, it looks fantastic!

  2. 2
    Ashlee says:

    My boyfriend and I went to a Thai restaurant today and I was telling him about this Thai Coconut soup I had at a restaurant in SLC, UT once that was TO DIE FOR but I have never been able to find since…And then you go and post this recipe! Yay!! I will be making this soon!!

    • 2.1
      Adri says:

      There is a place in Murray, UT called The Tea Rose Garden. I don’t know if this is the one you are looking for but their coconut soup is amazing! and they just opened a new location under a different name. Any way I am Excited to try this recipe!

  3. 3
    Ellie says:

    I have never tried making my own thai food but this looks easy and delicious and I am going to put it on the menu very soon. Thank for posting a quick and cheap dinner recipe! You girls are the best!

  4. 4

    Thanks for the tip about the coconut milk in cartons!! We always buy light, but recently all of our stores have stopped carrying it! I’ve had to buy regular the last few times, which is admittedly tastier, but adds a lot of calories.

  5. 5

    Oh my gosh, this is PERFECT!!! I always have Ramen noodles on hand…I like them for lunch. Is that a normal grown up thing to eat for lunch?

    I’m so making this this week!!

    • 5.1
      sara says:

      Seriously- I grew my second child completely on Ramen noodles. It’s all I ate for about 6 months, and still a weird comfort food for me!

  6. 6

    I love this! And I happen to have some Ramen in my pantry right now. Yes, I do.

  7. 7
    Caroline says:

    Amazing. I just made your thai curry noodles last night, so I just happen to have half a can of coconut milk leftover waiting to be used! By the way, the noodles were great! They were the first thai food I made at home that came close to being as good as take-out thai.

  8. 8
    JConnolly says:

    This is such a great idea! I bet a teaspoon or so of fish sauce (oh my gosh…don’t smell it before you put it in!) would make this extra tasty and also closer to what you’d taste in a Thai restaurant (not that I’m saying you were even going for that…just that some people indicated that’s what they were hoping for in the comments). Although a bottle might be a little pricey (maybe $3-$4), a little goes a LONG way (that’ why I can’t even remember how much it costs…I’ve been on the same bottle for probably 7 years now). Thanks for the tip on the coconut milk in the carton. For some reason I never thought of it in the same context as the one in the little can, but it makes sense that it would be similar. I don’t care that we’re supposed to be setting high temperature records in New York this week…I want some of this anyway!

  9. 9
    Jamy Bailey says:

    Ya know those cookbooks that say, ’50 ways to bake with cake mixes’ or ’50 recipes to cook with ramen’… Too bad this recipe isn’t in one of those! Those recipes are usually disgusting and this looks specacular! Love anything with coconut milk. Thanks for another great recipe!

  10. 10
    Michelle says:

    Ramen is $.33 in NYC and it makes me die inside just a little bit when I buy it.

  11. 11
    Emilee says:

    I love Thai coconut soups, but most recipes have a huge ingredient list. I can’t wait to try this one!

  12. 12
    Aidel.K says:

    This looks delicious. And easy. Thanks!

  13. 13

    Yum, yum, yum!! That sounds delicious!! I wish I had the ingredients in my cupboard and I’d make it right now.

  14. 14
    Angela S. says:

    Oh yum!! I can’t wait to try this. Thanks!! I’ve been obsessed with Thai food lately.

  15. 15
    GosiaL says:

    garlic????

    • 15.1
      sara says:

      I’m assuming what you’re trying to say is, “Sara, do you use garlic in this recipe?” :) And my answer is- I did not, but you are more than welcome to! Just saute it with the ginger and garlic.

  16. 16
    Emily Gilgen says:

    This is very similar to a recipe I’ve made for years (minus the noodles). I gave it to Kate once upon a time. I posted it on my blog not too long ago
    http://onlysoups.blogspot.com/2012/01/tom-ka-gai-soup.html

    • 16.1
      sara says:

      Looks good Emily; Kate and I have never talked about this type of soup, but most have pretty similar flavor profiles!

      • Emily Gilgen says:

        That’s the great thing about Thai food. It’s not as complicated as it sounds. I love that you guys like a lot of the same flavors and cook similarly…that means I’m on the right track!!

  17. 17
    Jen M says:

    This looks great! I never knew you could get coconut milk in a carton…I’ll have to see if my grocery store carries it that way. I LOVE coconut milk!

  18. 18
    Chris says:

    This looks fantastic. I love ramen noodles…but not with the seasoning packet. I am always looking for new recipes that use them. I can’t wait to try this. =)

  19. 19
    Anne says:

    I love Thai flavors! You could also add a teaspoon or two of Thai red curry paste to the mix to give it a touch of curry. I can’t wait to try this!

  20. 20
    Kimberley says:

    Mmmmm, nom nom, more lime and coconut…! I made your lime coconut white chip macademia nut cookies this weekend and everyone LOVED them :-)

  21. 21
    Lauri says:

    Sara, I was in your class Saturday and it was really great. I have the Best Bites Cookbook and my family has loved everything we’ve made from it. Thanks so much to you gals for putting it together and for your awesome site. My son is a ramen fanatic and was quite intrigued when I came home and told him how good this soup was. It’s on the menu this week!

  22. 22
    Jen says:

    Thank you SO much for this recipe. My 20 week pregnant self saw it and had to have it tonight. I only made half a batch – big mistake! I’m making more tomorrow with the leftover ingredients! It’s perfect.

  23. 23
    Susan says:

    Hi i make it all the time but this is so much easier. If you ever go in to fast food they have a veg dish with crab and shrimp in a sweet,clear sauce. I would love to know how to make it, I have tryed but i do better with a recipe. We grow cilantro and it is really easy even in the house near a window. I am in calif so i grow it outside. thank you so much i appricate all the time you put in to this for all of us.

  24. 24
    Janeil says:

    I happened to have all the ingredients on hand and made it for lunch today. It was really yummy! Especially for something fast and cheap. The lime and cilantro really make it taste fresh. It was all such a yummy flavor combination. It is on my to make again list. Thank you. I have a question, about what percent of your recipes in your book are on this site and how many are only in the cookbook?

    • 24.1
      sara says:

      There’s about 150 recipes in our book and probably 40-ish are exclusive to the book, and the rest can be found here on site.

  25. 25
    Jacque Barclay says:

    Hey Sara,

    This looks amazing! My husband and I still dream about the soup like this at Mai Tai, and we have been hoping to find a recipe like it. I am curious if the Jalapeno is just used for an added layer of flavor or if it makes it hot and spicy. I don’t like a lot of spice but I am afraid if I omit the pepper it will throw something out of balance in the recipe..??

  26. 26
    Nicki says:

    I didn’t know coconut milk came in cartons!! I love the stuff but hate paying for it. I’ll have to look for it next time I go to the store. This recipe looks delicious… I think this is going on our menu this week!

  27. 27
    megan says:

    I love top ramen and i would love to try it a new way so it isnt the same all the time

  28. 28
    Lisa says:

    Thanks for the delicious recipe. I made it for dinner tonight. Even the four year old tried it out. Word of caution, because apparently I’m an idiot…wash your hands thoroughly before touching your lips…or face…or nose…or both eyes.

    Burning will occur.

    • 28.1
      Lisa says:

      as an amendment…that should be to wash your hands after handling the jalapeno pepper.

      • I would add just wear gloves when handling the pepper. I’d always heard of the oils burning, and I washed my hands a couple times after I touched them. But I still got some in my eye, and WOW does it burn!! lol I washed my hands like a bajillion more times last night and I still have a little burning on one finger where I must have a cut I can’t see and got the oil in it.

    • 28.2
      sara says:

      Ha, yes! I should have linked our little tutorial on working with jalapenos!

    • 28.3
      Megan says:

      hahaha! I did that once too! Both my eyes were burning so badly! I was screaming so loud my husband thought I had stabbed my eye with a knife!

  29. 29
    Jennifef says:

    I am not a huge fan of top ramen.. but I had to run out to get all the ingredients for this! It was wonderful! Is there something you can use in place of the ramen? Maybe I just won’t use the full amount of noodles next time? I haven’t made one of your recipes that I didn’t love! keep em comin!!

  30. 30
    Amanda P. says:

    I made this tonight for dinner. My whole family LOVED it including all 4 of my kids! That never happens! Thank you Sara.

  31. 31
    Rhonda says:

    I just pinned this recipe – can’t wait to try it out! Love Thai coconut ANYTHING!

  32. 32
    Emily N. says:

    This was absolutely delicious; I am thinking I could use it for a three month food storage dinner with canned chicken and dried spices. Not quite the same as fresh I know, but still really good for food storage. Thanks for your genius! :)

  33. 33
    Elektra says:

    Another easy way to make a similar dish is to buy the Trader Joe’s brand Tom Yam Soup (frozen section) for like $3 for 1 (feeds one hungry adult as a meal or 2 adults as a starter once ‘beefed up’)…you take their kit, you add some protein and veggies to make it an actual meal…I usually add in rotisserie chicken (from Whole Foods) or the frozen New England scallops they sell….and then I also add in a handful of fresh baby spinach leaves, or frozen spinach (their brand)…..the soup pack comes with soft wontons and a spice pack, but it definitely needs more…..if you add protein and spinach, it’s like eating a huge bowl of Pho….very filling and a total meal…..I make this at least once a week….Tip: the lemongrass and spices they provide are tough to eat and ruin the soft texture, so I simmer them in the coconut broth, then strain it, and add that flavored broth to the wontons/spinach/chicken before eating….saves me from picking through the spinach to find the sharp lemongrass shards….Enjoy!!

  34. 34
    darcy says:

    Let me start off by saying that I HATE ramen noodles!!! Detest them! Haven’t had any in probably 8 yrs and I haven’t missed them at all. BUT…for some reason, this looked good. I was skeptical but decided to make it for dinner tonight anyway. And it was YUMMY!! So good! My whole family loved it AND it was easy and inexpensive! Awesome!!

  35. 35
    Dani says:

    I made this for dinner last night – absolutely delicious. even the husband enjoyed it – thanks for the idea :)

  36. 36

    Yum! Easy and flavorful!

  37. 37
    garysgirl says:

    YUMMMM!!!!!!

  38. 38
    Heather says:

    I made this last night and it was soooo good. My husband told me it was in his top 5 meals and that I had to make it on a regular basis.

  39. 39
    Meredith says:

    You are a magician!! I’m scared of jalapeño and don’t love cilantro … But I added it all in and the combination of flavors was delightful and fresh, and not spicy at all. Don’t know how you do it, but so glad you continue to put together these fabulous meals and post them for the rest of us to enjoy :-) thank you!!

  40. 40
    Kim says:

    I really want to make this, especially after all the wonderful reviews HOWEVER, the coconut milk scares me. I’m not a huge fan of coconut…can someone tell me if this is really coconut-y?? Thank you.

  41. 41
    taryn says:

    Coconut milk is not coconutty. What it does to your food, especially the whole stuff that’s not reduced fat, is add a semi sweet creamy richness to it. Unfortunately it is very fat, so one shouldn’t eat this often!

    Also, the Thai really like to add a lot of things to their food. A more authentic version of this soup would involve nampla (fish sauce, it’s salty and savory), veggies such as mushrooms, carrot shreds, and onion; shrimp, lemongrass, a dash of sugar, and basil. Throw in some green curry paste and you’ve got yourself some curry!

  42. 42
    Alicia says:

    I made this tonight and it was soooo good. I will definitely make it again. Next time I will add a little bit less salt. I’m wondering how this would taste over rice? Or if there could be a simple change into making it more of a curry? Maybe I will experiment. Also any suggestions if I wanted to serve this an appetizer of what to pair it with?

    • 42.1
      taryn says:

      See my comment above to make it into curry. Leave out the noodles. Pour it over fresh steamed jasmine rice.

    • 42.2
      sara says:

      You can definitely add some Thai Curry Paste- it’s super yummy! If serving as an appetizer, maybe make the main dish more of a protein based dish.

  43. 43
    Brittany says:

    Made this tonight and everyone loved it!! So creamy and yummy.

  44. 44
    Mimi says:

    Quick question: on your recipe card it calls for coconut milk and says “about – cups” How many cups is that? ;)

  45. 45

    woohoo! fancy ramen!

  46. 46
    michelle says:

    Made this tonight and my husband and I loved it!! We couldn’t get enough! My daughter liked it too. I added 2 fresh garlic cloves and used half the salt.

  47. 47
    Holly says:

    A friend just told me about your site, and this was the first recipe that I tried. The entire family LOVED this…even extremely picky daughter. My husband commented that the soup was like something you’d order at a restaurant and go back again just for the soup. Everyone wanted seconds! THANK YOU! Dinner was a success!

  48. 48
    Melody Pizzi says:

    I have a cold and this was just what I needed! So yummy and the slight heat from the jalapeno worked nicely to clear my head. I did sub in broken up whole wheat linguine for the Ramen, just cooked in a separate pot then dumped them in.

  49. 49

    I made this last night and 6 of the 8 of us loved it, the other 2 thought it was okay. I doubled the recipe, but not the chicken broth, making it a little thicker (my family doesn’t love soup), and I also added about a TBSP of red curry paste. Delicious!! My husband, who LOVES curry at our local Thai place, had a couple bowls of it. :) Thank you, this will be added to our regular recipe rotation.

  50. 50
    D says:

    I made this last night, and it was fantastic (and just as cheap per serving as promised). I was just cooking for two, and when I make it again, I think I will reserve half of the broth mixture and add just one packet of noodles. Then the next day for lunch leftovers, we could reheat the remaining broth with another packet of noodles…to avoid letting the noodles soak in the broth overnight and get too soggy, if that makes any sense. Like other commenters above, my husband also said it looked and tasted like it came from a restaurant – high praise! Thanks!

  51. 51
    Beth says:

    This looks yummy! I’m going to use my leftover peanut noodles instead of ramen… I know it will muddy up the flavor a little, but hopefully it will still taste good.

  52. 52
    Joanna says:

    Just made this and it was AMAZING! I’ve always loved Thai coconut soup, but its my husband who’s floored by how good this is! We added mushrooms, cilantro and lime juice, thanks for the awesome and EAsY recipe!!

  53. 53
    Martha Shardalow says:

    Just wondering how many this recipe serves?

  54. 54
    Sarah says:

    I made this soup yesterday….AMAZING!!! I added 1/2 onion diced and 2 cloves of garlic diced to sautéed jalepeno & ginger. I also use Better than Bullion instead of canned chicken broth (4 cups boiling water to 4 t. Better than Bullion). I will be making this often!!

  55. 55
    Jessica says:

    This was so good! I thought it needed a crunchy element to it as well? Got any suggestions like a macadamia nut or something along those lines?

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