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Spicy Chicken Noodle Soup Inspired by Tibetan Thukpa

Thukpa is a popular noodle soup in parts of  Tibet  and  Himalayan  regions  of  India.  It is   easy to prepare  and  makes a nutritious  and satisfying   midweek   dinner.

Spicy chicken Noodle Soup Inspired by Tibetan Thupka

Thukpa    generally  refers  to a  noodle  soup.   This  one   has  veggies, chicken  and  noodles.  It  is   my own  version and  by no means  do I claim it  to   be  authentic.  All I say is  that  it  is  easy and  delicious !

Himalayan foods are becoming  more popular  in our  household.   Momos (steamed   dumplings)   have  been a hit for  some time.   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.

This  version is   with a  busy  winter  evening  in mind.   It is  a  one  pot  meal ,  making  for  an easy cleanup.  It is  low  calorie  and   can  be  made in your  instant   pot  or  pressure  cooker.

The  days  are  shorter  and  the  dusk  creeping  in  at  4  is  not  really my thing. Half  the  day’s work  still remains!   A  bowl of  hot  soup   and  some steaming  momos   or  stuffed  buns   are  perfect  for  an early  dinner.  The   warmth   and  flavors  are  what  is   needed  to  lift  the  spirits  as  it   heads  south  with   the   sunset.

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 Inspired by Tibetan Thupka

The   preparation of  this  soup  is  different  from usual.  The  base  for the  soup is  made  by grinding  spices , onions  and  tomatoes  together.  This  ground  paste is  sauted,  and  the  remaining  ingredients  are  added.

Chicken is  poached in this flavored  broth   while  the crunchy  veggies   are  added  towards  the  end  of  cooking.   This  helps  the  veggies  to retain   its  color  and  crispness.

Spicy chicken Noodle Soup Inspired by Tibetan Thupka


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.  4  to 5  minutes of  soaking  is enough  to cook the  noodles.

Egg  noodles  are  another  excellent   choice  so is fresh  udon noodles.  Whichever  noodle  you  choose  make  sure  it  is  heated  in the   hot  soup   for  the  recommended  cooking  time .

Meat / Protein

I make  this  soup  with  skinless Chicken   thighs. It  is poached in the   soup,  fished  out  and  the meat is  taken 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 in  this  recipe.   Bok choi, bean  sprouts broccoli florets 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  cant  find  Sichuan Pepper substitute  black pepper  and a pinch of  coriander.

Spicy chicken Noodle Soup Inspired by 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  how  to make   this  spicy chicken  noodle  soup inspired by Himalayan Thupka.

Spicy chicken Noodle Soup Inspired by Tibetan Thupka

Chicken  Thukpa

By Syama
This  delicious chicken noodle  soup brings the  Himalayan  flavors  to the  dinner  table.  This   one  pot  dish is   flavorful, filling   and  easy to make.
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  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  tuns  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 saute 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  slid e back into the  soup, along  with the  veggies  and   rice  noodles. Press  the  saute  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  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 (fetuccine , egg noodles)  add  the  noodles  first  and  cook  it  half  way though   before  adding  the   veggies.

Important: Values are only estimates. Actuals vary depending on ingredients and serving size.

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Spicy chicken Noodle Soup Inspired by Tibetan Thupka

Spicy chicken Noodle Soup Inspired by Tibetan Thupka


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