Quick and easy, oven-baked ground chicken meatballs combine with a lightly creamy, coconut milk, Thai red curry and tomato broth. A great soup on it's own for lunch or spooned over rice or noodles for dinner.
Prep Time: 15 minutes | Cook Time: 25 minutes | Total Time: 40 minutes
✓ EASY✓ QUICK✓ GLUTEN FREE✓ DAIRY FREE
If you love Thai flavours, you will love this easy, comforting and vegetable-rich soup. The quick and easy ground chicken meatballs bring some heartiness to this soup, and they cook up super quickly in the oven while you start the soup. Simply add to them to the soup and you're ready to go. From start to finish, you can be enjoying this soup in just about 40 minutes.
My favourite part of this soup is the broth. It's just lightly creamy, despite the coconut milk, as it combines with chicken broth, Thai red curry paste, with some tomato paste and a bit of Sambal Oelek, for just a touch of heat. There's a touch of Worcestershire and Fish sauce in there, too. It's a lovely combination of flavours that's soul soothing and warming.
As noted above, there are two whole bell peppers in this soup and as much spinach as you like (it wilts down so much, you can really put quite a bit in). I love that this soup delivers so much vegetable goodness in such a delicious way.
Enjoy this soup on it's own or spoon it over rice or noodles, if you like.
Ground Chicken: You will need a 1 lb. package of ground chicken. You could also use ground turkey, if you prefer.
Lemongrass Paste: Look for tubes of lemongrass paste in the fresh produce section. Keep in the fridge and you'll always have great lemongrass flavour handy for all your Thai dishes. You can also use fresh or frozen lemongrass or just omit, if you don't have any on hand.
Bell Peppers: You will need 2 bell peppers. I've used one red and one yellow here, though the colour doesn't matter really, except for appearance.
Jalapeno Pepper: You'll just need one small jalapeno pepper. You can omit without issue, if you like.
Coconut Milk: You will need a 400ml (13.5 oz) can of regular or lite coconut milk.
Thai Red Curry Paste: I love red curry paste, but you could use green or yellow, if that's what you have on hand. Sometimes I use mostly red, but a tiny bit of green, as I love the extra hit of flavour, it has.
Sambal Oelek: One of my favourite condiments, that is a great addition to any kitchen and perfect for adding a spicy note to so many dishes. You can adjust the amount, to taste, but do keep in mind that it packs a punch. You can also omit, for no heat. Alternately, you can use Asian Chili Garlic sauce here (add a bit more).
Chicken Stock: You can also use vegetable broth here, if you like.
Baby Spinach: You'll be surprised how much spinach you can pack into this soup, as it wilts down so much. Add as much as you like (the more, the merrier :)
Other ingredients you will need: Panko (or dried bread crumbs), onion, Worcestershire sauce, Fish sauce, fresh cilantro, fresh lime, cornstarch, tomato paste, salt and pepper.
Instructions (Step-by-Step Photos)
Step 1: Combine the meatball ingredients in a bowl. Stir together.
Step 2: Spoon out rounded tablespoons the meatball mixture and form into balls. Place onto a greased baking sheet (or line with foil and grease, for easy clean-up).
Step 3: Bake meatballs in a 450F oven for 12-15 minutes, or until cooked to at least 165F internal temperature. (Mine were well past that, but it won't hurt them any to cook longer. I prefer them with a little colour, myself). If you want to add a little colour to your meatballs, pop them under the broiler for a few minutes.
Step 4: Once the meatballs are in the oven, start the soup on the stove-top by softening the onion and red pepper.
Step 5: Add the coconut milk, red curry paste, Worcestershire sauce, Fish sauce and Sambal Oelek.
Step 6: Add the chicken broth to the soup.
Step 7: Once the meatballs are done, transfer from the baking sheet right to the pot of soup.
Step 8: Add the chopped cilantro and baby spinach and stir until spinach wilts.
Even though the fish sauce will add some salt to the meatball mixture, you still want to add a bit more, for best flavour.
Likewise, taste the soup at the end of cooking and add salt, as necessary, to really bring out all the great flavours.
I love to keep the tubes of tomato paste in my fridge, for small amounts such as in this soup. Look for them in with the tomato paste at the grocery store. So handy!
As noted above, while this soup is lovely on it's own, it's also nice spooned over some rice or noodles, for a heartier meal.
For gluten free option, be sure to use gluten free bread crumbs in the meatballs and be sure to use gluten-free brands of chicken broth and fish sauce.
Top Tip! Make the meatballs ahead, cool slightly, then refrigerate or freeze. This soup comes together super quickly with the meatballs already cooked ahead. Simply add to the soup from the refrigerator or freezer. Once cooked, the meatballs will keep in the fridge a couple of days or in the freezer for a month or so.
Thai Chicken Meatball Soup
- 1 lb. ground chicken or ground turkey
- 1/4 cup panko or other dried or gluten-free bread crumbs
- 2 Tbsp cilantro finely chopped
- 1 tsp lemongrass paste optional
- 1 Tbsp fish sauce
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1 Tbsp cooking oil
- 1/2 cup onion diced
- 2 bell peppers cored, seeds removed and roughly chopped
- 1/4 cup jalapeno pepper diced
- 13.5 oz coconut milk (400ml) regular or lite
- 1 Tbsp Thai red curry paste
- 1 tsp fish sauce
- 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tsp Sambal Oelek or Asian Chili Garlic Sauce
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 3 Tbsp tomato paste
- 1 Tbsp cornstarch add 1 1/2 Tbsp if using lite coconut milk
- Juice of 1/2 lime
- 1/4 cup cilantro chopped
- 3-4 cups baby spinach
- Salt to taste
- Additional chopped cilantro
- Lime wedges
- Preheat oven to 450F. Grease a baking sheet (or line with foil and grease the foil, for easy clean-up). Set aside.
- Make the meatballs: Combine all the meatball ingredients in a medium bowl. Stir to combine. Using a measuring tablespoon, spoon out a rounded scoop and gently roll into a ball. Place onto prepared baking sheet. Repeat until you've used all the mixture. You should have 26-28 small meatballs.
- Place into preheated oven to bake for 12-15 minutes, or until the meatballs are at least 165F internal temperature. *If you'd like to have a bit more colour to your meatballs, pop them under the broiler for a couple of minutes.
- While the meatballs are cooking, start the soup by heating a bit of cooking oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion, bell peppers and jalapeno pepper and cook, stirring, until softened, about 3-4 minutes. *Don't skimp on softening, as the bell peppers won't soften much more, so be sure they are at least tender-crisp (or more, if that's how you like them) before proceeding.
- Add the coconut milk, red curry paste, fish sauce, Worcestershire sauce, Sambal Oelek and chicken broth. Stir to combine and allow to heat and simmer a bit, until meatballs are ready. When meatballs are ready, add to the soup.
- In a small bowl, stir together the tomato paste and cornstarch. Add to the soup and stir, cooking, until soup thickens slightly. Add lime juice and stir to combine. Add the cilantro and baby spinach and stir, cooking, just until the spinach wilts.
- Taste the soup and add additional salt, as needed, to really bring together the flavours. *You can also stir in additional curry paste or Sambal Oelek at this point, to taste, if you'd like more of those flavours.
- Spoon into serving bowls. Garnish with additional cilantro and serve with lime wedges, for drizzling.