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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- ½ lb Rice Noodles
- 6 C 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
- 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
- Chopped coriander Leaves
- 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.
- 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.