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Fiery Soup: Laksa

Fiery Laksa

Whenever I'm in need of something spicy, sour, creamy and with explosive flavours in every spoonful Laksa soup has to be the choice. Great for warming up the body in cold days but even more so in tropical weather it is also a very effective cure for a hungover. When I'm eating this soup I always find that no matter how hungry I am, a bowl is enough to keep me satiated for hours although is not a heavy meal at all. I attribute this to the chili in it as spicy food is so flavorsome that a little goes a long way... or maybe my mouth is so much on fire that it is physically impossible to eat more food.

Here you'll find a recipe to make the paste from scratch (once the ingredients are in front of you, takes a mere 10 minutes to make) and an equally speedy one for the soup which is my own interpretation as I've, untraditionally added soba noodles which go fantastically well (they are also very good cold with a touch of tamari and dark sesame oil).

Serve with mint, spring onions, bean sprouts and lots of fresh coriander -sorry, not sorry coriander detractors and no, it does not taste like soap-.


For the paste:

Paste based on Martyna Angell's recipe on her book -The Wholesome cook-

10 dried long chilies (de árbol or bird's eyes)

3 long red fresh chiles, deseeded

2 shallots, chopped

1 thumb size piece of ginger or galangal, peeled and chopped

1 big garlic clove, peeled

2 lemongrass stems, outer leaves peeled, chopped

6 cashew nuts

1 tbsp shrimp paste

1 thumb size piece of fresh turmeric or 2 tsp ground turmeric

2 teaspoons ground coriander

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 tbsp tamarind puree or 2 tbsp lime juice

2 tbsp light olive oil or other neutral flavour oil, plus extra for preserving

Soak dry chilies in boiling water for 10 min, slice open and scrape seeds out.

In a food processor blitz everything but the oil, dry chillies and tamarind puree. Once everything is chopped add the rest 3 ingredients and blend till you have a paste. Transfer to a jar and spoon a bit of oil on the top to avoid oxidation. Keep refrigerated.

For the soup:

Serves 2 big eaters

4 tbsp laksa paste

1 tbsp oil

1 tbsp palm sugar, grated or chopped

1 lt vegetable stock

1 400ml can coconut milk

4 tbsp (or to taste) fish sauce

1 tablespoon lime juice

1 pack extra firm tofu, drained and cubed

1 small broccoli head, cut in florets and blanched for 1 minute with the soba noodles

To serve:

2 bunches of soba noodles, cooked according to package, about 4 min, drained

Fresh coriander

Fresh mint

Bean sprouts, trimmed

2 spring onions, sliced

1 fresh chili or to taste, sliced

lime wedges

In a medium size pot or cast iron dutch oven fry the laksa paste in the tablespoon of oil in low heat for 3 to 4 minutes or until aromatic. Add palm sugar and stir to dissolve, then the vegetable stock all at once and bring to a boil. Turn heat down to keep the liquid simmering and add coconut milk, fish sauce and lime juice. Taste and add more lime to add sourness, fish sauce for seasoning and palm sugar to round the flavours. 5 minutes before serving add broccoli and tofu.

To serve put a generous amount of noodles on each bowl, pour the hot soup over them and top with herbs and chili.

Prawns or poached chicken are a great addition too.


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