So many Southeast Asian soup recipes, so little time! Some people visit Southeast Asia for the majestic temples. Some visit the beautiful rainforests, mountains, and beaches. I go for the soups. God how I love them all. I could feast on them every single day for the rest of my life and never get tired.
There are so many awe-inspiring varieties and styles that it would be impossible to catalog them all (though if someone paid me I’d love to try). Curries, noodle soups, brothy soups, hot and sour soups, spicy soups, ultra-spicy soups, congees, herbal healing soups, the list is almost infinite. This post will only scratch the surface and focus on the more popular and established recipes.
Please note: this post for Southeast Asian soup recipes is a work in progress. I’m publishing it knowing that some of the countries are not well-represented yet. I intend to add to it over time as I find more and more authentic recipes.
I’m open to suggestions in the comments! Please understand I am looking for authentic Southeast Asian soup recipes and not Southeast Asian-inspired soup recipes. Well-written, personalized recipe descriptions matter. Good photos too.
Tom Yum Goong is probably Thailand’s most famous soup and one of the most renowned Southeast Asian soup recipes.
It is a classic hot and sour soup with shrimp (goong means shrimp in Thai) that features a broth infused with lemongrass, galangal, and kaffir lime leaves.
It also includes lime juice, a little sugar, fish sauce, and Thai bird’s eye chiles for some serious jaw-dropping flavor!
Find the recipe here —> Tom Yum Goong
Tom Kha Gai is probably Thailand’s second most popular soup. Almost every Thai restaurant outside Thailand serves both Tom Kha Gai and Tom Yum Goong.
They’re actually pretty similar soups despite looking quite different. The broth in Tom Kha Gai is also infused with lemongrass, galangal (kha means galangal in Thai), and kaffir lime leaves, and it’s also seasoned with varying amounts of lime juice, fish sauce, sugar, and chiles.
The major differences are that Tom Kha Gai recipes are coconut milk-based and the most popular versions include chicken (gai means chicken in Thai) as opposed to shrimp. The coconut milk helps tone down the heat which means that Tom Kha Gain tends to be less spicy than Tom Yum Goong.
Find the recipe here —> Tom Kha Gai
Jok is a Thai congee, which is a type of rice porridge. It’s not nearly as famous as Tom Yum Goong or Tom Kha Gai but it’s a staple Thai street food, especially during the early morning hours.
Jok is seasoned with fish sauce or soy sauce and often includes either pork meatballs or poached eggs (or both). It includes an assortment of toppings such as fried garlic, fried shallots, green onions, and sliced ginger.
In this recipe post, I also include a video of me eating it right on the streets of Bangkok!
Find the recipe here —> Jok
There are so many Southeast Asian noodle soup recipes similar to this one. It seems like every country has its version of a beef noodle soup. For example, Vietnamese Beef Pho, perhaps the most famous Asian beef noodle soup, shares many similarities with this Thai beef noodle soup recipe.
However, Thai versions typically feature a cloudier and richer broth. They’re also often enhanced with dark soy sauce, which is a sweeter and richer type of soy sauce than regular sauce. Thai beef noodle soups are served with a variety of Thai condiments like fresh chiles, chiles in vinegar, fish sauce, and even sugar for a uniquely Thai version!
Get the recipe here —> Thai Beef Noodle Soup
Kaeng Som, also spelled Gaeng Som, is a classic spicy southern Thai sour curry soup. It’s popular everywhere, including Thai street food, and dozens of variations exist throughout the country, though the southern versions tend to be quite spicy. In Thai, “Kaeng” means curry, and “som” means sour.
At its core, it’s made from a simple curry paste of fragrant spices, vegetables, and chiles which is dissolved in broth (or water). The paste is then simmered with shrimp or fish and other vegetables. There’s no coconut milk in this soup to balance the heat and that’s one of the reasons it’s really spicy. The sourness comes from either tamarind or fresh lime juice.
This Thai soup is not for the unadventurous. It can really get the sinuses flowing! If you love hot and spicy, this is the soup for you.
Find the recipe here —> Kaeng Som
Gaeng Jued is a super simple Thai vegetable soup recipe that’s frequently given to those that are plagued with some form of digestive complaint. Gaeng Jued in Thailand means “plain” or “bland” soup. But that doesn’t mean it tastes bland. On the contrary, it’s quite flavorful.
Gaeng Jued is lightly seasoned with fish sauce and often contains pork meatballs. That might sound strange for a vegetable soup but in Thailand pork is viewed as extremely healthy. Many versions of this Thai vegetable soup use tofu in place of pork (and many include both). Either way, this broth-based recipe can be used for helping a wide variety of digestive complaints such as heartburn, GERD, IBS, bloating, and inflammation.
Find the recipe here —> Thai Vegetable Soup
Khao Tom Gai is a very simple Thai chicken and rice soup that is not that different than a typical chicken soup your grandmother would make. The broth is infused with lemongrass and galangal which gives it a wonderfully fragrant, earthy, citrus flavor that is so characteristic of Thai cuisine.
You can make Khao Tom Gai as basic or complex as you want. If you’re battling a cold or digestive issue, make it more broth-based and keep the seasonings to a minimum. If you want something more hearty, add more chicken and rice and go crazy with the seasonings.
In particular, fried onions and garlic are my favorite additions as they add that wonderful crunch and smoky flavor that can make any plain soup really come alive.
Find the recipe here —> Khao Tom Gai
Tom Saap is a simple hot and sour Thai pork rib soup (sometimes, beef is used too) that is most popular in the northeast region of Thailand. The soup really showcases the fragrant depths of classic aromatic Thai herbs such as lemongrass, galangal, and kaffir lime leaves.
It has many similarities to Tom Yum, Thailand’s most famous hot and sour soup. For example, it’s broth-based and also features lime juice, fish sauce, and fresh Thai chiles. And it’s almost always served with a side of jasmine rice. But unlike Tom Yum, Tom Saap typically includes heartier cuts of meat.
Find the recipe here —> Thai Pork Rib Soup
My love of Southeast Asian soup recipes truly started with Mohinga. To this day, it remains my favorite all-time soup of ALL the soups in the world. That is how deep my love runs for Mohinga.
Unfortunately, Myanmar’s horrific political situation means that Mohinga will remain one of Southeast Asia’s best-kept culinary secrets, for the time being. But you can learn to make it at home.
Mohinga is the national dish of Myanmar (formerly called Burma) where it is often served for breakfast. The broth is infused with lemongrass, ginger, garlic, and onions, and slightly thickened with rice flour or chickpea flour. But I promise you there is so much more to it than that!
You just have to make it for yourself to experience its divinely delicious flavor.
Find the recipe here —> Mohinga
I stumbled across Khao Suey, a Burmese coconut chicken noodle soup, only a few times when I was in Yangon many years ago. But it left a lasting impression.
It has many similarities to Khao Soi, the famous noodle dish of northern Thailand. Some even say Khao Soi evolved from Khao Suey.
The dish consists of a heavenly chicken and coconut milk broth that is slightly thickened with chickpea flour. Garnishes and seasonings are many and varied but often include lime juice, fish sauce, chiles, onions, cilantro, and hard or soft-boiled eggs.
Find the recipe here —> Khao Suey
Originating in its namesake northern Vietnamese city, Hanoi Pho is what purists consider the original and most authentic form of Pho. There’s no sriracha, no hoisin sauce, and minimal garnishes.
Rather, Hanoi-style Pho really emphasizes the beef broth and requires it to be made the old-school way, slowly simmered with charred ginger, charred onion, and classic Pho spices, such as whole star anise, cinnamon, and cardamom, to develop some truly incredible flavor.
Purists say that sriracha and hoisin sauce interfere with the flavor of the beef broth. Once you try this style of Pho, well, it’s hard to argue.
Find the recipe here —> Ha Noi Pho
One could argue that Saigon Pho is the most famous of all the Southeast Asian soup recipes. It’s the southern Vietnamese version of Pho that came out of Saigon and it’s one that almost every Vietnamese restaurant serves outside of Vietnam.
The three defining features of a Saigon Pho are its semi-sweet, homemade beef broth, the liberal use of garnishes (herbs and bean sprouts), and the use of hoisin sauce and a chili sauce (often sriracha) for seasoning. There’s a reason this classic rice noodle soup is so popular worldwide. It’s delicious, of course!
Find the recipe here —> Pho Saigon
Chicken Pho (Pho Ga in Vietnamese) is a great alternative to Saigon and Hanoi Pho (which are types of beef Pho). This is especially true when you don’t have the time or inclination to make a long-simmered beef broth.
Another great reason to make this Chicken Pho recipe is that you can choose to make it in the Saigon style, with lots of seasonings and herbs, or, in the Hanoi style, which is all about the broth and contains fewer seasonings. Either way, the results are Pho-tastic! (I know, lame)
Find the recipe here —> Chicken Pho
Bun Bo Hue is a spicy Vietnamese Beef Noodle soup that is not quite as popular as Pho but should not be overlooked! This authentic Bun Bo Hue noodle soup is beefy, spicy & has a robust broth. If you love Pho and you love a bit of spice then definitely give Bun Bo Hue a try.
Find the recipe here —> Bun Bo Hue
Similar to Thailand’s Tom Yum soup, Canh Chua is Vietnam’s popular version of sour soup. It originates from the Mekong Delta region of southern Vietnam and it is mainly flavored with tamarind which gives this soup its signature sour and tart flavor.
Traditionally, the soup is cooked with a lot of vegetables like taro stems, okra, pineapple, and tomatoes. Canh Chua can be made with different types of meat and seafood. It is most commonly made with fish (canh chua cá), but it can also be made with chicken (canh chua gà) or shrimp (canh chua tôm) as well!
Find the recipe here —> Canh Chua
Bò Kho, a southern Vietnamese beef stew, is a traditional dish in which chunks of beef shank are seared and braised in a tantalizing broth of coconut water, lemongrass, ginger, cinnamon, and star anise. It’s the perfect comforting dish, especially during cool weather. Bò Kho is typically served with a Vietnamese baguette or egg noodles.
Find the recipe here —> Bo Kho
Every Southeast Asian country has its version of congee. In Thailand, it’s Jok. And in Vietnam, it’s Chao Ga. This Vietnamese congee is a nourishing breakfast recipe consisting of slow-cooked jasmine rice topped with succulent poached chicken and an array of aromatic ingredients including garlic, ginger, onion, cilantro, and fish sauce. It is the ultimate Vietnamese comfort food!
Find the recipe here —> Chao Ga
This Vietnamese chicken noodle soup called Miến Gà, features a clear savory broth and slippery glass noodles. It is often included in traditional Vietnamese feasts or banquets. Compared to Chicken Pho it’s quite an easy soup to make. Toppings and garnishes add flavor and texture including cilantro, fried shallots, scallion, and black pepper.
Find the recipe here —> Mien Ga
Samlar Machu (also spelled Samlor Machu) is a type of Cambodian sour soup. There are many types of Samlar Machu with many different ingredients.
That said, Cambodian sour soup recipes are not just sour. There’s a lot more going on besides just the sour flavor – hints of sweet, salty, and spicy (though not super spicy) all fuse together for a wonderfully flavorful soup.
This Samlar Machu recipe includes fish and stems from my travels to Cambodia where I learned to make it from a local woman just outside Siem Reap!
Find the recipe here —> Samlar Machu
Kuy Teav is a popular Cambodian noodle soup that’s often served for breakfast. I had many incarnations of it when I was traveling in Cambodia many years ago and I loved them all. It has a deep umami flavor with lots of other contrasting tastes and textures. It’s often made with pork and pork broth but many other meats and broths are common too. It comes with a wide variety of herbs, greens, and toppings.
This recipe is truly an authentic version from a great website dedicated to Cambodian cuisine!
Find the recipe here —> Kuy Teav
Samlor Kako, also called somlaw koko, samlor koko, and samlor korko in the Khmer language, is a stew-like dish that has a very strong Asian spice basis and includes ginger, lemongrass, galangal, turmeric, fish paste, and fish sauce.
It’s considered one of Cambodia’s national dishes as it contains many uniquely Cambodian ingredients including a variety of local vegetables, fruits, and meats.
I had it a few times during my stay in Cambodia and was always astounded by its depth and complexity of flavors.
Find the recipe here —> Samlor Kako
Rawon is a rich and hearty Indonesian black beef soup that is said to have originated in the city of Surabaya, located in East Java, Indonesia. The soup is made with a variety of spices, including galangal, turmeric, and coriander with the addition of keluak nut which provides the dish with a unique, deep, and nutty flavor, as well as the black color.
While it may not be as well-known as other Indonesian food such as Nasi Goreng or Rendang, Rawon is a delicious stew that is definitely worth trying!
Find the recipe here —> Rawon
At its core, Lontong Sayur Lodeh is a hearty soup made with a rich, flavorful broth infused with a blend of fragrant spices, coconut milk, and various fresh veggies. But what truly sets Lontong Sayur Lodeh apart is the addition of lontong, a banana-leaf-cooked compressed jasmine rice cake that soaks up the savory broth and adds a satisfying chewy texture to each bite.
This dish is a feast for the senses and a symbol of Indonesia’s rich culinary heritage. With its gorgeous colors and complex flavors, Lontong Sayur Lodeh is a true masterpiece of Indonesian cuisine.
Find the recipe here —> Lonton Sayur Lodeh
More Indonesian soup recipes coming soon!
Laksa is the national dish of Malaysia and one of the most famous soups in the world. As with most uber-popular Southeast Asian soup recipes, there are many regional variations throughout Malaysia and many variations in neighboring countries.
Laksa is a rich, spicy, and colorful noodle soup in a coconut milk broth that bursts with so many classic Southeast Asian flavors. Descriptions will never do it justice. It must be experienced! This recipe includes a homemade laksa paste for a truly authentic version.
Find the recipe here —> Laksa
More Malaysian soup recipes coming soon!
Here is another fantastic Southeast Asian congee recipe! Arroz Caldo, or Lugaw, is a very popular Filipino dish, and for good reason. Earthy aromatics infuse the rice porridge, along with juicy morsels of chicken, and pillowy grains of rice that make the soup lusciously thick. Seasoning with fish sauce brings a salty umami flavor that makes the soup totally unique.
Find the recipe here —> Arroz Caldo
Sinigang is a traditional and classic Filipino sour soup made with all sorts of different proteins and vegetables and served with white rice.
But the one constant is the sour flavor which most often comes from tamarind though other souring agents can be used too such as lemon, lime, guava, and pineapple.
This Sinigang with Chicken, or Sinigang Na Manok, is a super easy and hearty dish that’s perfect for cold weather!
Find the recipe here —> Chicken Sinigang
Here is another example of Sinigang using very different ingredients. This one is made with fish and soured with lemon juice instead of tamarind. Different ingredients but equally delicious results!
Find the recipe here —> Fish Sinigang
Sopas is another traditional Filipino soup, made with elbow macaroni in a creamy broth with a wide variety of meats and vegetables. It’s considered a restorative, comforting soup that’s often served in cooler weather.
It’s also the rare soup that’s not meant for leftovers as the macaroni will get overly soft and mushy over time. This Chicken Sopas recipe is a super easy version made with celery, carrots, red peppers, and cabbage.
Find the recipe here —> Chicken Sopas
Tinolang Manok is a traditional Filipino Chicken Papaya Soup recipe that is mixed with unripe green papaya and spinach. The flavorful chicken stock is infused with ginger, garlic, onion, and fish sauce. It’s a classic warming and restorative broth-based soup recipe that is a staple food in the Phillippines.
Find the recipe here —> Chicken Papaya Soup
Every culture has its own version of chicken soup and Khao Piak Sen, the Laotian version of Chicken Noodle Soup, is the ultimate comfort food.
The broth is made of simple ingredients, but the chewy tapioca noodles cooked in the broth itself give this dish its signature, thick, soul-warming, soup broth.
Find the recipe here —> Khao Piak Sen
Pho Lao is a variation of Vietnamese Pho, but with a uniquely Lao twist. Laos and Vietnam share a long border so naturally, the cuisines have influenced each other. Pho Lao has a sweeter and spicier broth than Vietnamese Pho. It also has a darker broth and includes a side of shrimp paste with fresh bird’s eye chili peppers for an extra kick!
Find the recipe here —> Pho Lao
Oh, the hot pots of Asia! They are quite the experience. Basically, each person gets their own little bubbling pot of broth over a burner, with a platter of local meats, seafood, and veggies.
One by one with chopsticks, each person dips the meat and veggies in the broth for a minute or so until cooked. Different seasoning and dipping sauces are often included too.
Hot pots are festive, fun, and typically meant for a group experience. Each Southeast Asian country has its own version and style, including Southeast Asia’s smallest country, Singapore!
Find the recipe here —> Singapore Hot Pot
More Singaporean soups coming soon!
This post is purely for Southeast Asian soup recipes. Chinese, Japanese, and Korean soups are all wonderful too. In particular, I love so many Japanese and Chinese noodle soup recipes. But technically, speaking those countries are not considered part of the 11 countries of Southeast Asia.
Yes, those countries are part of Southeast Asia too! For whatever reason, they’re not as well-traveled as the others. I’d love to include some of their native soups. If you have any suggestions, please add them in the comments.
I consider Thai coconut curries, like Thai red curry, green curry, yellow curry, and Massaman curry to be their own category, more like coconut milk stews than soups. They’re so trendy and popular with kazillions of online recipes that I really wanted to emphasize lesser-known Thai soups.
Craig Fear is the creator of Fearless Eating and the author of three books, The 30-Day Heartburn Solution, Fearless Broths and Soups and The Thai Soup Secret. After years helping clients with digestive issues, Craig decided to pursue writing full-time. He intends to write many more books on broths and soups from around the world! Click here to learn more about Craig.