Thai Glass Noodle Soup
This Thai Glass Noodle Soup is made with chicken and prawn meatballs, fragrant aromatics and herbs, and glass noodles in a homemade broth that’s exploding with flavor! It’s quick and easy to make in 30 minutes, and super warming and comforting!
Spicy, warming, full of fragrant aromatics and herbs. AND there’s meatballs and noodles involved too!? Sign me up! 🙋♀️ 🙋♀️
My love for noodles and soup noodles knows no bounds, and I’m here today bringing you my latest and favorite Thai noodle soup concoction!
Friends, allow me introduce you to a classic Thai noodle soup – Gaeng Jued Woon Sen. Traditionally, this glass noodle soup with a clear broth is made with chicken meatballs. It’s usually quite mild in flavor because it’s meant to be served alongside spicy curries and stir-fries to help cool the palate.
But I wanted to make it a main dish. So, I jazzed up the broth with some flavorful Thai aromatics like lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves, and used chicken and prawns for the meatballs. And let me tell you, those wonderful little pops of juicy prawns in the middle of the chicken meatballs are absolutely delightful! 😍
I also added plenty of garlic, a few fresh chilies, and sliced shallots to create a wonderfully tasty, warming, and flavor-packed soup! 😋
This Thai Glass Noodle Soup is perfect for chilly days or when you’re fighting a cold. It’s also very easy to whip up, and is the perfect filling and satisfying meal that doesn’t leave you feeling heavy after eating it.
Why This Recipe Works
- It’s quick and easy to make in 30 minutes, and incredibly warming and comforting.
- Cooking the chicken and prawn meatballs in the water-based soup creates a flavorful broth without the need for a store-bought stock.
- Mung Bean Vermicelli (glass noodles) are wonderfully slippery in soups, and they make this soup noodles a substantial meal.
- It’s full of flavor-packed Thai aromatics like lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves, as well as garlic, shallots, and fresh chilies for a kick of heat!
- Fresh herbs like coriander and spring onion brighten up the soup when added at the end.
- Asian Red Shallots: Substitute with regular shallots or red onion if unavailable.
- Chilies: I used red Bird’s Eye chilies and Prik Kee Nu green chilies (which are fiery hot!) for the meatballs, as well as some red Bird’s Eye chilies for the soup. But any small hot chilies will work. Feel free to reduce the quantity of chilies or omit them if you are not big on heat.
- Coriander (Cilantro) Roots: The roots and stem parts have more and a different flavor than the leaves. They’re very commonly used in Thai cooking. Use coriander stems if you can’t get a bunch with the roots still on.
- Prawns: I used peeled and deveined black tiger prawns, but you could use shrimp instead too.
- Ground Chicken: You could also use ground pork or turkey instead if you prefer.
- Mung Bean Vermicelli: These are also known as ‘woon sen’ in Thai, glass noodles, cellophane noodles, and bean threads. They have a springy and chewy texture in stir-fries, but become slippery in soups. Once cooked, they turn translucent, hence the name “glass noodles”. They require soaking in water before they can be added to the soup (or used in stir-fries and other dishes). Look for them in your local Asian supermarket, Thai grocery store, or you can purchase them online.
- Lemongrass: You should be able to find lemongrass at an Asian supermarket or Thai grocery store. But feel free to substitute with lemongrass paste if fresh lemongrass stalks aren’t easily accessible to you. Lemongrass paste can be found in the fridge section of supermarkets in most places.
- Kaffir Lime Leaves: These fragrant and sweet-smelling leaves add a citrusy note and tremendous depth of flavor to the broth! Look for them at an Asian supermarket or Thai grocery store.
- Thai Chili Powder (optional): This is a combination of chili powder, flakes, and seeds. In a pinch, you can substitute crushed red pepper chili flakes. Feel free to adjust the quantity you use to taste, or omit if you prefer to make the broth mild.
- Fish Sauce: This strong-smelling sauce if full of flavor and adds wonderful salty umami notes to the meatballs and broth. It’s widely available these days, so check the Asian aisle of your local supermarket. If not there, you can find it in an Asian supermarket or Thai grocery store.
- Light Soy Sauce: I used a Japanese (Kikkoman) low sodium light soy sauce. But you can use any light soy sauce you have on hand. Adjust the quantity to taste if using a regular (not low sodium) soy sauce.
Full ingredient list and amounts are in the recipe card below.
How to Make Thai Glass Noodle Soup with Meatballs
1. Make the meatball mixture: Using a mortar and pestle, pound the garlic, shallots, chilies, and coriander roots into a coarse paste. Combine the paste with ground chicken, minced and cubed prawns, and seasonings in a mixing bowl. Mix until combined well, and the texture of the meat mixture is smooth and everything has come together. Set aside.
2. Prepare soup ingredients: Pound the garlic and chilies into a coarse paste using a mortar and pestle. Thinly slice the shallots, and finely mince the lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves. Soak the mung bean vermicelli in a bowl with room temperature water for a few minutes. Then drain and cut the noodles into shorter and easier to eat lengths.
3. Sauté aromatics: In a bit of oil until fragrant.
4. Build the soup: Pour in the water and season with the sauces and seasonings.
5. Cook the meatballs: Once the water comes to a boil, reduce the heat. Use two teaspoons, one to scoop up the meat mixture from the bowl and another to slide it off the spoon and into the soup. Repeat until all of the meatballs are in the soup. Simmer for a few minutes until the meatballs have cooked through.
6. Add noodles and herbs: Stir in the glass noodles and fresh herbs.
7. Serve! Ladle the soup noodles and meatballs into bowls. Serve with some store-bought fried shallots and Chinese chili oil on the side if desired.
You can also briefly blanch Asian greens of your choice and place in the bowls if you like. I love either Chinese broccoli or bok choy in my bowl of Thai glass noodle soup!
I also often like to add some boiled store-bought wontons to my bowl, and highly recommend it if you love wonton soup noodles! ❤️
Full detailed instructions are in the recipe card below.
- Use fresh or frozen prawns that are not too old for best flavor. Check the expiry date on the package if using frozen. Do not use if there is any discoloration. They may taste fishy if they’re past their prime.
- Work the proteins in the meat. When combining the meatball ingredients, scoop the meat up with a large spoon and drop it so that it slaps against the bowl. This will ensure that you yield juicy meatballs.
- Finely mince the kaffir lime leaves. It should almost be powder-like so that no big pieces get stuck in teeth when eating.
- Use other meat. Use ground pork or turkey instead of chicken to make the meatballs.
- Don’t want to use prawns/shrimp? Omit them, and just use more chicken to make the meatballs. You could also do a chicken and pork meat combination if you like.
- Not a fan of coriander? Leave it out. The roots and stem parts have a different flavor than the leaves, so I encourage you try using them for the meatballs even if you’re leaving out the coriander for the soup.
- To make it vegetarian/vegan. Use firm tofu cubes instead of chicken and prawns for the protein, and use more soy sauce to flavor the meatballs and broth instead of fish sauce. You can also add veggies like diced carrots, sliced mushrooms, or chopped cabbage to the soup.
- To make it gluten-free: Use a gluten-free soy sauce or soy sauce substitute (i.e.: coconut aminos or tamari). Also, double check your fish sauce to make sure it is gluten-free as some brands aren’t.
More Noodle Soups and Soups
- Khao Soi Gai (Northern Thai Coconut Curry Noodles Soup with Chicken)
- Spicy Dan Dan Noodles with Wontons
- Tom Kha Gai (Coconut Milk Chicken Soup)
- Creamy Chicken Mushroom Rice Soup
- Creamy Tomato Basil Tortellini Soup
- Or browse the entire Noodles or Soups & Chowders recipe collections.
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Thai Glass Noodle Soup
This Thai Glass Noodle Soup is made with chicken and prawn meatballs, fragrant aromatics and herbs, and glass noodles in a homemade broth that’s exploding with flavor!
- Prep Time: 18
- Cook Time: 12
- Total Time: 30 minutes
- Yield: 3 1x
- Category: Dinner
- Method: Simmer
- Cuisine: Thai
For the Meatballs:
- 3 Garlic cloves – roughly chopped
- 2 Asian Red Shallots – roughly chopped
- 2 Red Chilies (Bird’s Eye preferred, but any small hot red chilies will work), to taste – roughly chopped
- 1–2 Prik Kee Nu Green Chili (optional), to taste – roughly chopped
- 3 Coriander (Cilantro) Roots – roughly chopped (use stems if unavailable)
- 100 grams / 3.5 ounces peeled and deveined Prawns (or shrimp) – half finely minced, half coarsely chopped
- 240 grams / 8.5 ounces Ground Chicken (or ground pork)
- 1 TSP Ground White Pepper
- 1 TBLS Fish Sauce
- 1 TBLS Low Sodium Light Soy Sauce
- 1 TSP Sesame Oil
For the Thai Glass Noodle Soup:
- 3 Garlic cloves – roughly chopped
- 1–6 Red Chilies (Bird’s Eye preferred, but any small hot red chilies will work), to taste – roughly chopped
- 2–3 Asian Red Shallots – peeled and thinly sliced (use 1/4 red onion if unavailable)
- 1 Lemongrass stalk – outer tough layers removed and finely minced (substitute with 1 TBLS lemongrass paste if unavailable)
- 3 Kaffir Lime Leaves – destemmed and finely minced
- 2 TBLS Canola Oil (or any other cooking oil)
- 5 cups / 1183ml Water
- 1 TBLS Fish Sauce
- 1.5 TBLS Low Sodium Light Soy Sauce
- ½ TSP Ground White Pepper
- ½ TSP Kosher Salt, to taste
- ½ TSP Thai Chili Powder (optional), to taste
- 120 grams / 4.2 ounces Mung Bean Vermicelli (also known as glass noodles, cellophane noodles, and bean threads) – soaked in water according to package instructions and drained
- ¼ cup roughly chopped Coriander
- 2 Spring Onion – cut into 1.5-inch pieces
- To Serve (optional): Blanched Asian greens (bok choy, choy sum, Chinese broccoli or kale, etc.), boiled store-bought or homemade wontons, store-bought fried shallots, Chinese chili oil
For the Meatballs:
- Make the chicken and prawn mixture: Roughly chop the garlic, shallots, red chilies, Prik Kee Nu green chilies (if using), and coriander roots. Using a mortar and pestle, pound into a coarse paste. Mince half of the prawns into a paste, and coarsely chop the other half. Transfer the garlic chili paste to a large mixing bowl, and add the minced and cubed prawns, ground chicken, ground white pepper, fish sauce, low sodium light soy sauce, and sesame oil. Mix until combined well. Scoop the meat mixture up with a large spoon and drop it so that it slaps against the bowl. (Note: You can also combine the meat using your hands instead, which is the traditional way.) Repeat a few times until the texture becomes smooth and everything has come together. Set aside.
For the Thai Glass Noodle Soup:
- Prepare the ingredients: Roughly chop the garlic and red chilies, then pound into a coarse paste using a mortar and pestle. Thinly slice the shallots, and finely mince the lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves. Soak the mung bean vermicelli in a bowl with room temperature water as per package instructions, then drain well. Cut the noodles with kitchen shears into more manageable lengths (so that they are easier to eat).
- Make the soup: Heat the canola oil in a large stockpot of Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the shallots and sauté for 30 seconds until slightly softened. Then add the garlic chili paste mixture, lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves and sauté for a minute until fragrant. Pour in the water and season with fish sauce, low sodium light soy sauce, ground white pepper, kosher salt, and Thai chili powder (if using). Once the water starts to boil, turn the heat down to medium. Use a teaspoon to scoop up the chicken and shrimp meat mixture, and another to slide it off the spoon and into the soup. Repeat until all of the meatballs are in the soup. Simmer for 2-3 minutes, or until the meatballs are just cooked. Give the broth a taste and adjust seasoning by adding more fish sauce, soy sauce, or kosher salt if needed. When you are ready to serve, add the noodles and stir in the chopped coriander and spring onion. Then switch off the heat.
- To Serve: Divide the noodle soup and meatballs evenly into bowls. Briefly blanch Asian greens of your choice and add to the bowls. Serve with fried shallots and Chinese chili oil if desired.
- Thai ingredients: Fresh lemongrass stalks, kaffir lime leaves, and glass noodles can be found in Asian supermarkets or Thai grocery stores, or online.
- Meatballs: Feel free to use all chicken (340 grams / 12 ounces) if you prefer not to use prawns/shrimp. You can also use ground pork or turkey, or do a combination of chicken and pork if you like.
- Chilies: Prik Kee Nu Green chilies are listed as optional as they may be hard to find outside of Asia, and also because they are fiery hot. Adjust the quantity of fresh red chilies and Prik Kee Nu green chilies to taste. Or omit them and the Thai chili powder entirely if you are not big on heat.
- Make it vegetarian/vegan: Use firm tofu cubes instead of chicken and prawns for the protein, and use more soy sauce to flavor the meatballs and broth instead of fish sauce. You can also add veggies like diced carrots, sliced mushrooms, or chopped cabbage to the soup.
- Make it gluten-free: Use a gluten-free soy sauce or soy sauce substitute (i.e. coconut aminos or tamari). Double check your fish sauce to make sure it is gluten-free as some brands aren’t.
- Mortar & pestle: Pounding ingredients in a mortar and pestle helps the aromatics to release their oils and makes their flavors more prominent and tastier. If you don’t own one, smash the aromatics with the flat side of a knife and finely chop the ingredients. Or give them a whiz in a mini blender or coffee grinder until a coarse paste-like texture is achieved.
- If not serving immediately: Do not add the noodles into the soup or they will turn to mush if not eaten immediately and soak up all the soup. Remove the pot from the heat after the meatballs have just cooked through. When ready to serve, reheat the soup on the stovetop for 2-4 minutes or until heated through. Then stir in the noodles, coriander, and spring onion just before serving.
Shop the Recipe
- Serving Size: 1 bowl
- Calories: 495
- Sugar: 8g
- Sodium: 1783mg
- Fat: 18.1g
- Saturated Fat: 2.9g
- Unsaturated Fat: 14.3g
- Trans Fat: 0.1g
- Carbohydrates: 54g
- Fiber: 4.2g
- Protein: 25.5g
- Cholesterol: 122.5mg
The nutritional information provided is approximate and can vary based on several factors. It should only be used as a general guideline. For more information, please see our Disclosure.
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This post may contain affiliate links. We are a part of the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn a small commission (at no extra cost to you) by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. The nutritional information provided is approximate and can vary based on several factors. It should only be used as a general guideline. For more information, please see our Disclosure.