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Spicy Chicken Noodle Soup Inspired by Thukpa

Thukpa is a popular noodle soup in parts of  Tibet and the neighboring Himalayan regions.  This easy to make Spicy Chicken Noodle soup is inspired by this nutritious and satisfying dish.

A bowl of Soup topped with lemon  and  along with a few momos and dipping sauce next to it

Thukpa generally refers to a that is commonly made in the Himalayan region. There are a few variations to making this dish and cooks from different regions may not agree on which version is authentic. Usually these will have meat or meat based broth and hand pulled noodles.

This  one has veggies, chicken and noodles.  It is my take on Thupka and by no means  do I claim it  to be  authentic.  All I say is that it is easy and  delicious and makes me think of the few days I was blessed to stay in the region.

Himalayan Cuisine

Himalayan foods are becoming more popular in our household. Take Momos (steamed dumplings) for example, these are a always welcom. These recipes combine some quintessential Chinese and Indian flavors, and more often than not I have the spices in the pantry. Not all but enough to make the close enough version.

Due to its high altitude and cold climate the authentic dishes in the Himalayan regions will have more fat than you will find in my recipes. This is intentional as our caloric needs in the urban life is much less.

Chicken Noodle Soup For Dinner

Winter means that the days are shorter. Dusk creeping in at 4 is not really my thing. Half the day’s work still remains! On those days I dream about a bowl of hot soup and some steaming momos or stuffed buns. The warmth and flavors lift the spirits as it heads south with the sunset.

Need more reasons to make Thukpa ?

This version is made for a busy winter evening in mind.  It is

  • one pot meal
  • easy cleanup
  • low calorie
  • Instant Pot/ Pressure cooker friendly

This soup could serve as a filling main course for 2 to 3 or as an appetizer for 5 to 6.

Making the Spicy Chicken Noodle Soup

A collage showing the steps to making the paste for chicken thupka and the soup base from it.

The preparation of this soup is different from usual. First one has to grind the spices, onions, and tomatoes together to a paste. Next sautée this paste, and add the liquids to make the soup broth.

Poach the Chicken in this flavored broth. Add the Veggies later towards the end of cooking. This helps the veggies to retain their color and crispness.

Spicy chicken Noodle Soup cooking in a bowl


I make these with rice noodles – vermicelli or flat noodles depending on what I have on hand. Rice noodles cook in very little time, usually it just needs to added the soup or hot water. 4 to 5 minutes of soaking is enough to cook the noodles.

Egg noodles are another excellent  choice as are fresh Udon noodles. For each type of noodle make sure that you heat it for the recommended cooking time.

Meat / Protein

I make this soup with skinless Chicken thighs. Poach the chicken in the soup, remove, and take the the meat off the bones. It is an easy way to add more flavor to the soup and the meat. Other cuts of meat will work as well – though the darker meat is more flavorful.

For a vegetarian version make without chicken  and use vegetable stock or water instead of chicken stock. You could add tofu or strips of omelet as well.


I had added carrots, mushrooms and a few fresh spinach leaves in this recipe.  Bok choi, bean sprouts,  broccoli florets etc. are also good options.


If you have Sichuan pepper use it. These have a characteristic pungent taste. Other than that there is coriander powder, turmeric and chilies. If you can’t find Sichuan Pepper substitute black pepper and a pinch of coriander.

Spicy chicken Noodle Soup in a bowlby Tibetan Thupka

Allergen Free

This protein and veggie filled soup is – dairy free, nut free and gluten free 🙂 . Substitute  vegetable stock for chicken stock and bean curds for chicken and it becomes vegan as well.

Here is  the recipe –

Spicy chicken Noodle Soup in a bowlby Tibetan Thupka

Chicken  Thukpa

By Syama
Thukpa is a delicious chicken noodle soup to bring the Himalayan flavors to the dinner table. It is a one pot dish that combines meat, veggies and noodles. The soup base is flavored with spices like coriander, pepper, garlic etc. It is easy to add this dish to your weeknight menu as it is IP and Pressure cooker friendly.
5 from 1 vote
Course Dinner, Main
Cuisine Tibetan
Servings 2


  • ½ lb Rice Noodles
  • 6 Chicken Stock
  • 2 – 3   Chicken thighs  skinless bone in, about  ¾ lb
  • 1 Carrot cut into thin strips
  • ½ Bell Pepper thinly sliced
  • 1 C Baby Spinach  / baby bok choy notes
  • 1 Tbsp Lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp Vegetable oil
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Spice paste

  • 1 -2  Shallots 1/3 C  chopped
  • 2 Cloves Garlic
  • ½ Inch Ginger
  • ½ Tsp  Red chili  powder   To  taste
  • ½   Tsp Turmeric Powder
  • ½ Tsp  Coriander Powder
  • ¼ Tsp  Sichuan pepper corns  Notes
  • 1 pinch  Asafoetida optional
  • 1 Tomato medium

To Serve

  • Chopped coriander Leaves
  • Scallions
  • Lemon wedges/slices


Make the spice paste

  • Combine all the ingredients listed under the spice paste, excluding the tomatoes, in a blender and process until finely ground. Chop the tomatoes into smaller chunks and add to the bowl. Process until smooth.

Instant pot / Electric  pressure  cooker

  • Heat the oil in sauté mode. Add the ground paste to the oil and let it cook for a few minutes. Stir often to prevent the mix from sticking to the pan and browning. When the paste turns deep red and the oil seems to separate add the chicken stock. Stir and taste to adjust salt and pepper. Slide the chicken thighs into the soup. Cancel sauté program. Cook on manual high pressure for 5 minutes.
  • Release the pressure naturally for 15 minutes. Release any remaining steam.
  • Open the Instant pot. Take out the chicken things, shred it and slide back into the soup, along with the veggies and rice noodles. Press the sauté mode and cook for 5 minutes. Cancel program and add the lemon juice and adjust to taste.

Stove top

  • Follow the instructions for cooking the spice paste. Add the stock and chicken thighs and bring to boil. Reduce the heat to medium and let the chicken poach for 15 to 20 minutes. Take out and shred the meat off the bone. At this point you may have to add 1 to 2 cups extra cups of stock to the pot and bring back to boil.
  • Keep  the heat on medium and  follow the  remaining  steps as in the instructions above.


  • Portion into 2 to 3 bowls if it is the main dish or up to 6 bowls if it is a starter. Sprinkle chopped cilantro and green onions on top, serve with slices of lemon. 


  • Bean sprouts, mushrooms,  and  broccoli are  other  good  options  to add to  the  soup.  If  using  sprouts  place it in the  serving  bowl   and  pour  the  hot   sup over  it. 
  • If  Sichuan Pepper is  not  available  use  black pepper and   a  pinch of   coriander  powder
  • If  thicker noodles (fettuccine , egg noodles)  add  the  noodles  first  and  cook  it  half  way though   before  adding  the   veggies.

Important: Nutrition Values are estimates. Actuals vary based on ingredients and serving size.

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