Gaeng Khae (Spicy Thai Vegetable Soup) Recipe | Vegetarian Times Skip to main content

Gaeng Khae (Spicy Thai Vegetable Soup)

This medicinal soup from the north of Thailand is believed to prevent and reduce colds and fever. The flavorful base is a hand-ground paste of chiles, garlic, lemongrass, and shallots. If you don’t have a mortar and pestle, blend all the ingredients in a food processor. Serve with brown or red rice.


Ingredient Set Name: 

Chile Paste


Ingredient Line: 
15 dried chiles de arbol or Japones chiles
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8 cloves garlic, peeled
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½ tsp. salt
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2 stalks lemongrass, minced
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2 shallots, minced (½ cup)
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1 tsp. red miso

Ingredient Set Name: 



Ingredient Line: 
4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
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2 Tbs. low-sodium soy sauce
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1 ½ cups sliced beet greens, Swiss chard, escarole, turnip greens, or kale
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1 cup turnip or fennel chunks
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½ cup sliced mushrooms
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1 cup firm tofu chunks
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1 cup coarsely chopped arugula
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½ cup fresh mint leaves
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¼ cup coarsely chopped parsley


To make Chile Paste:

1. Soak chiles in bowl of boiling water 30 minutes. Drain, pat dry, and finely chop.

2. Combine garlic and salt in mortar, and pound with pestle. Add lemongrass, shallots, miso, and chiles, pounding and crushing after each addition to make thick paste.

To make Soup:

3. Bring broth to a boil in saucepan over high heat. Stir in soy sauce and Chile Paste. Add beet greens, turnip, and mushrooms, and bring to a boil. Cook 5 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer 5 minutes. Add tofu, and cook 2 minutes more. Stir in arugula, mint, and parsley, and simmer 1 to 2 minutes, or until herbs wilt.

Nutrition Information: 

9 g
Total Fat: 
3 g
Saturated Fat: 
<1 g
17 g
0 mg
811 mg
4 g
4 g
Serves 4

Comments on this Recipe

I used 11 chiles de arbol instead of 15 in 5 cups of water instead of 4, and I would rate it "medium high" in spiciness/heat. 9 chiles would be medium and 15 chiles would be extra spicey. It definitely cleared my sinuses from my cold. To make it more medicinal, use shitake mushrooms. I found the dried chiles de arbol in a package in the produce section of Whole Foods. Unlike my usual use of chiles, I did not remove any seeds this time. I skipped the miso and don't think it made any difference. Making the paste in a food processor was a cinch. The variety of greens/herbs in this soup is very nice. Most of the time necessary to prepare this soup is in the prep stage; cooking the soup takes little time. I know nothing about Thai food, but my understanding is this is the vegetarian version of the authentic dish, which uses chicken, fish sauce and shrimp paste (?).

I made this last weekend and love it! I did make it a little differently than the recipe instructed. I used chili paste instead of the chilis, and it probably wasn't as spicy hot as it would have been if I'd used all 15 chilis. I minced up some green onion instead of shallots to go with the chili sauce, and I used lemon peel instead of lemongrass. I also added some mung bean noodles since everyone was raving about how good the soup was with noodles. Good call! And the leftovers are delicious. Great for fall/winter.

This is delicious, but VERY SPICY. I guess fewer chiles would tame it a little, I used Japones. I also don't have a mortar/pestle, but it doesn't quite paste up in a processor, I started with that then had to crush it some more using a spoon for a paste like texture. I can see how it would be good for a cold, but it was a bit too much spice for me as is.

Delicious! I did make a few changes - I used 10 peppers instead of 15 and added some rice noodles. For me, 10 peppers created the perfect amount of spice.

Made this tonight for the first time and it is delicious. I simplied the process by using lemongrass paste (1.5tsp) and Thai chili paste(1 tsp). I also skipped the miso just because I didn't have any. Before serving I added a squeeze of fresh lime juice and a few springs of fresh cilantro. The soup was not spicy because of my changes but still absolutely delicious!

I've made this soup 3 times now and each time it's great! I do use the fresh lemongrass and substitute some dried peppers from my garden. I also add bean thread noodles. It's great!

I just made a batch, and added a little more water since my approximate amounts of all the greens, etc. overcame the pot and seemed more like hot salad. Hehehe...Lime sounds good, but I have lemons, and they clean the blood.

This soup rocks! Very good with noodles too!

I had a really bad time with this soup. It came out way too spicy for my taste or my fiancee's taste. There is too much chili and just too many ingredients overall. I HATE to waste food but a lot of this got flushed. Basically this might be better as a topping for rice.

I'm long overdue to review this soup. I think I actually made it last winter when I was feeling a little under the weather. I've read a few comments that the soup is too spicy, but for someone that likes it hot (such as myself) this soup doesn't disappoint! The broth is so rich and flavorful, and the plethora of different veggies make for a textural delight. The soup was a tad time consuming, but absolutely worth it. I can't wait to try it with glass noodles!

Made this and boy is it spicy, but GREAT! I used more water because I knew it would soak up all the veggies. Great recipe.

This is extremely spicy, so next time will use less chiles. Also, 4 cups of broth is definitely not enough! I used 10 cups of broth and think I could've used even more. I bought lemongrass at Whole Foods, and it was hard as a rock. It must've been old, so I had to discard it when I served the soup. Otherwise, nice and hot for a very snowy evening!

I loved this soup! I only used half the amount of chilies and it was spiced perfectly for my taste. I also added a few extra cups of water. I used fennel instead of turnip which gave it that awesome licorice taste :).

I loved this soup! I used all 15 chilis de árbol &amp; it was really spicy &amp; we liked it like that. This was my 1st time using fresh lemongrass &amp; what a great experience it was. offers some great tips on choosing, storing, &amp; preparing this's important to NOT use the woody green parts on the top 2/3s. The turnip was wonderful with Swiss chard &amp; baby arugula.

Flavor in this is great, but WAY too hot for us, and I even used half the chilies and replaced half the garlic with 2 inches of galangal, and I still needed to add 3 cups of broth and 2 tsp brown sugar to make it tolerably spicy! I doubled the mushrooms and used basil instead of mint since I was out.

This was awesome - I used 7 Thai chilis (they are spicier than the ones in the recipe so I used fewer), and after I tasted the broth and felt the chili was overpowering it I added an extra tablespoon of soy sauce. I also substituted spinach for the arugula and added carrots. Yum yum yum!!!

Thai soup

After reading all the reviews, my mouth is watering. Love spicy... Love bold flavors... :-)

Good soup

I made this a week ago &amp; made some changes to the recipe- I used a prepared chili paste instead &amp; I added about 1/4 cup sweetened/shredded coconut to combat a little of the spiciness. I really loved it! I like spicy foods and this did not dissapoint. This is going to be a staple in my soup arsenal!

This was delicious. I will be making this regularly. The spicier the better, in my book, and as others have written, this is spicy! I added carrots to my soup (I add carrots to everything) and actually used more chiles de arbol then suggested. I'm very satisfied. Thanks so much for sharing!

This soup is SO DELICIOUS! We used 15 dried Thai chilis, Lacinato kale instead of beet greens and diced sweet potato instead of fennel because that's what we had on hand. We pored the soup over brown rice vermicelli before serving. This recipe is going in the regular rotation for sure!

If I were to use an already prepared Thai chili paste, how much should I use?

The 15 chiles are way too many. Should be cut down to 3-4 as the soup is way too hot.

Increase the lemongrass and decrease the chillies to 1 to 4 and no more. Recipe does not specify how much chilli pastes should be added. I added only two teaspoon due to amount of chillies and could not taste any thing else. Recipe is good and easy but author needs to look at it and make changes.

Same question as asked on 10/14/2014 How much Thai Chili Paste should I use if I am not making it from scratch?? I guess I will start with a Tablespoon and adjust from there.

Reporting back. I used 1 Tablespoon (Tuong Ot Toi Viet-Nam) Chili Garlic Paste and thought it could have been doubled...I added about a tsp of Sriracha sauce per bowl and some salt/pepper. I am not a vegetarian so I would eliminate the tofu and substitute chicken or garbanzo beans perhaps. I used kale and turnips which I liked. Prob eliminate the mint. Was thinking it could use some julienned carrots and some minced garlic next time too. I will try it again adding my own twist as stated.

Question, where is the kcal come from? Apart from the tofu, else doesnt seems to have much calories that add up to a ttl of 400 kcal?

Sounds good !!!

Feels a lovely recripe

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This soup is way too hot. I would not use more than 4-5 chilies. I used the 15 listed in the recipe and doubled the broth and it was still way too hot.