Spicy Coconut Chicken Soup


Food from Sri Lanka, located off the southern tip of India, has flavor combinations not seen in other cuisines because of its position at the intersection of trade routes and cultures, says Kentucky-based chef Samantha Fore, whose family is from the country. This soup exemplifies the essential, mouthwatering combo of sweet, sour and heat; bright acidity from fresh lime juice is balanced by coconut milk, which adds richness without being heavy. Spices grown on the island—like cinnamon, cardamom, coriander and cumin—lend toasty notes to the broth and add a layer of gentle heat behind the fiery dried chile. The Tuk spice blend is one Fore created (named after her pop-up restaurant, Tuk Sri Lankan Bites) and is available online through spicewallabrand.com. "It is basically everything I would put into a chicken curry," she says, including ginger, lemongrass and turmeric.

Spicy Coconut Chicken Soup
Photo: Greg DuPree
Active Time:
35 mins
Total Time:
1 hr 15 mins


  • 1 ½ pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs

  • 1 teaspoon ground pepper, divided

  • 2 tablespoons Tuk fried chicken spice or madras curry powder, divided

  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil

  • 1 4-inch piece pandan leaf (optional)

  • 1 Ceylon cinnamon stick

  • 4 cardamom seeds

  • ½ teaspoon fenugreek seeds (see Tip)

  • ½ teaspoon brown mustard seeds

  • 1 cup diced carrot

  • 1 cup diced celery

  • ½ cup thinly sliced leek

  • ½ cup diced white onion

  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt

  • 2 cloves garlic, grated

  • 1 teaspoon thinly sliced lemongrass

  • ½ teaspoon grated fresh ginger

  • 1 sprig fresh curry leaves

  • ½ teaspoon ground turmeric

  • ½ teaspoon Guntur Sannam chile or crushed red pepper (optional)

  • 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth

  • cup coconut milk

  • 2 tablespoons lime juice


  1. Season both sides of chicken with 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon spice blend (or curry powder) on the underside.

  2. Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add pandan, if using, cinnamon stick, cardamom, fenugreek and mustard seeds. Cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Discard the pandan and cinnamon stick. Add the chicken, skin-side down, and cook until the skin is golden, about 7 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a plate.

  3. Add carrot, celery, leek, onion, salt and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon pepper and 1 tablespoon spice blend (or curry powder); cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add garlic, lemongrass, ginger and curry leaves; cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add turmeric and chile (or crushed red pepper), if using, and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes more.

  4. Stir in broth and bring to a boil over medium heat. Nestle the chicken into the pot and reduce heat to medium-low. Cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened and the chicken reaches 165°F, about 20 minutes. Discard curry leaves.

  5. Transfer the chicken to a cutting board. Discard the skin and bones. Shred the meat with two forks and return to the pot. Stir in coconut milk and lime juice and simmer for 5 minutes more.


Popular in Indian cuisine, fenugreek seeds taste maple-y, tangy and nutty. Find them in the spice aisle at well-stocked grocery stores, in Indian markets or online.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)

413 Calories
26g Fat
16g Carbs
29g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings Per Recipe 4
Serving Size 1 3/4 cups
Calories 413
% Daily Value *
Total Carbohydrate 16g 6%
Dietary Fiber 5g 18%
Total Sugars 4g
Protein 29g 58%
Total Fat 26g 33%
Saturated Fat 16g 80%
Cholesterol 135mg 45%
Sodium 564mg 25%
Potassium 649mg 14%

Nutrition information is calculated by a registered dietitian using an ingredient database but should be considered an estimate.

* Daily Values (DVs) are the recommended amounts of nutrients to consume each day. Percent Daily Value (%DV) found on nutrition labels tells you how much a serving of a particular food or recipe contributes to each of those total recommended amounts. Per the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the daily value is based on a standard 2,000 calorie diet. Depending on your calorie needs or if you have a health condition, you may need more or less of particular nutrients. (For example, it’s recommended that people following a heart-healthy diet eat less sodium on a daily basis compared to those following a standard diet.)

(-) Information is not currently available for this nutrient. If you are following a special diet for medical reasons, be sure to consult with your primary care provider or a registered dietitian to better understand your personal nutrition needs.

Related Articles