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If the idea of a sweet and spicy soup that showcases spaghetti squash strands makes you wonder what you’re getting into, let me break it down for you.
Let me also welcome you into the wonderful world of laksa.
No, I did not misspell the word latke. I would never! I’m an excellent speller as well as a potato pancake professional.
Laksa is a slurp-able Malaysian staple that takes many forms. Ours draws influence from the more soup-like version, which features a spice paste, coconut milk-based broth, and noodles.
Shrimp, fish, or chicken, as well as soft-boiled eggs, are often included in many varieties, whereas our recipe is vegan and free of any starchy carbs – it features tender-crisp veggies and roasted spaghetti squash instead of noodles.
And trust me when I say this soup is so mind-blowingly tasty that you’ll come back for seconds before you’ve even finished off the first bowl!
Just as French dishes often start with a mirepoix of onions, celery, and carrots to build flavor, Malaysian cuisine also has a hefty handful of different aromatics that kick-start the base of many recipes.
This particular soup begins with fresh, spicy ginger, scallions, garlic, and chilies.
I’m spoiled since I have an Asian supermarket just down the road, which means I have easy access to fresh Thai chilies and other ingredients not commonly found in most American supermarkets. But you shouldn’t have any difficulty finding the majority of the ingredients called for here.
Thai or bird’s eye is the type of chili that I like to use in this recipe. And as a friendly warning, these peppers are hot. But a really, really good kind of hot. A little will go a long way in this dish to create the perfect level of heat!
If you can’t get your hands on bird’s eye chilies, use your favorite type of hot pepper that’s locally available. A jalapeno, or even half a teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes, will work in a pinch.
Next up, the second bang of flavor in our rendition comes from Thai green curry paste.
Before making this soup, I was mainly familiar with its pungent cousin, Thai red curry paste. They both pack a punch, but in different ways, and they’re readily available in most grocery stores.
Every curry paste has its own flavor profile that’s dependent upon the chilies, aromatics, and other spices used in a made-from-scratch recipe or in a store-bought version. The green type that I opted to use here is sweet, vegetal, and coriander-forward, whereas red Thai curry paste is rich, spicy, and savory.
So we have Thai peppers and curry paste being used to make a loosely Malaysian-style soup, and I find it to be supremely delicious!
A more traditional Malaysian or Singaporean laksa sambal curry paste is red, and that would be excellent in this soup too – though you’ll often find shrimp paste in there, so it wouldn’t be vegan.
Instead of seafood or another animal protein, the majority of the substance in our soup is created with a mix of fresh vegetables. Green beans add a snap and bok choy adds crunch, while red pepper strips complement the sweet notes in the spicy curry paste.
Tender roasted spaghetti squash stands in perfectly for rice or wheat noodles and gives you something skinny and tender to swirl around with your chopsticks.
Vegetable broth creates the bulk of the liquid, while coconut milk adds a lush, creamy consistency that makes every taste of the glorious liquid addicting.
Sweet Thai chili sauce, an easy find in many grocery stores, hypes up the personalities of the curry and chilies stirred in at the beginning.
I like my sweet with a lot of spicy, so I stir in some extra hot sauce at the finish line just before decorating my soup with licoricey Thai basil and cool, crispy bean sprouts.
If all of the above doesn’t sound like a mouth-smacking good time, you might need to get your taste buds re-tuned.
A few mouthfuls of this balanced soup with its astounding blend of fresh and exciting flavors will do the trick!Print
Our vegan rendition of sweet and spicy Malaysian laksa soup is swimming with fiery chili peppers, coconut milk, and tender spaghetti squash.
For the Soup:
- 1 large spaghetti squash, halved lengthwise, seeds removed (about 4 pounds)
- 4 tablespoons coconut oil, divided
- 1 teaspoon coarse salt, divided, plus more to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
- 4 scallions, white and light green parts, thinly sliced
- 2 large cloves garlic, minced
- 2-inch knob ginger, minced
- 1 minced fresh Thai chili or jalapeno, or adjust to taste
- 1 medium red bell pepper, sliced into strips
- 8 ounces green beans, ends trimmed and cut in half
- 2 heads baby bok choy, cut into 2-inch pieces
- 2 tablespoons green curry paste
- 6 cups low-sodium vegetable stock
- 1 13.5-ounce can full-fat coconut milk
- 2 teaspoons sweet chili sauce, plus more to taste
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
For Garnish/Serving (all optional/according to preference):
- Thinly sliced scallion tops
- Thinly sliced jalapeno pepper
- Mung bean sprouts
- Lime wedges
- Thai basil
- Preheat the oven to 425°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Melt 2 tablespoons coconut oil in a microwave-safe bowl.
- Lightly coat the inside of the halved squash with the melted coconut oil. Season with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper.
- Place the squash halves cut side down on the prepared baking sheet. Bake until fork tender, about 25-30 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside. Separate the strands from the skin with a fork when cool enough to handle.
- In the meantime, add the remaining 2 tablespoons oil to a large saucepot over medium heat. Add the white and light green parts of the scallions. Cook, stirring occasionally, until they become translucent and begin to soften, about 3-5 minutes.
- Add the garlic, ginger, and chilies, and stir for about 30 seconds, until fragrant. Do not brown the garlic.
- Add the bell pepper, green beans, and bok choy, and season with the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Saute until lightly browned, about 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Stir in the green curry paste. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 1 minute.
- Gradually pour in the vegetable stock, scraping up any brown bits stuck on the bottom to deglaze the pan as you pour. Bring the soup to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low. Stir in the coconut milk and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the veggies are tender-crisp, about 15-20 minutes. Stir in the spaghetti squash strands and cook for 5 more minutes.
- Remove from heat. Stir in the sweet chili sauce and lime juice. Adjust to taste with additional salt and chili sauce.
- Divide among bowls. Garnish with sliced jalapenos, chopped green scallion tops, bean sprouts, cilantro, and Thai basil. Serve immediately, with wedges of lime.
- Prep Time: 25 minutes
- Cook Time: 35 minutes
- Category: Soup
- Method: Roasting/Stovetop
- Cuisine: Vegan
Keywords: spaghetti squash, vegan, laksa, soup
Cooking By the Numbers…
Step 1 – Gather, Prep, and Measure Ingredients
Gather and wash all of your produce, paying particular attention to the folds between the layers of the bok choy, as dirt and grit tends to collect there.
Slice the bases off the bok choy and discard them. Chop the rest into 2-inch pieces. If you like, you can set the delicate leaves aside and wait to stir them into the soup until just before serving, so they’ll wilt without overcooking.
Slice the red bell pepper into thin strips. Trim the ends of the green beans and cut them into 2-inch pieces.
Use a spoon to scoop out the seeds, but don’t toss them! They’re delicious seasoned and toasted.
Trim the root ends off the scallions and discard them, or use them to start new plants – you can regrow the scraps in water! Slice the scallions, keeping the white and light green parts for cooking separate from the green tops which will be reserved for garnish.
Juice about half of a lime and measure out 1 tablespoon of juice. Save the remainder for another use.
Slice another lime into wedges for serving.
Place the bean sprouts in a bowl and pick the leaves from the cilantro and Thai basil.
Mince the garlic, ginger, and Thai chili.
Thinly slice a jalapeno for garnish, if using.
I like to use fresh Thai chiles in the base of the soup and thinly sliced jalapenos as garnish. You can use additional Thai chilies as garnish instead, but keep in mind they’re much hotter than jalapenos if you’re trying to control the heat level.
To avoid any irritation, be sure to save all the chili prep for last. Wash your hands and cutting tools thoroughly after slicing and mincing them. You can also wear disposable gloves while you are prepping them for an extra layer of protection.
Measure and divide the coconut oil. Place 2 tablespoons in a small microwave-safe bowl and microwave it on high for 10 to 15 seconds until it’s melted. The melted coconut oil will be used to brush the squash before roasting.
Measure the salt and pepper. Freshly cracked is best!
Measure the Thai green curry paste and the sweet chili sauce. I like to use the green curry paste from Thai Kitchen, available on Amazon. Sweet red chili sauce from Thai Kitchen is available on Amazon as well.
Measure the vegetable stock. Remember to use a liquid measure – like a Pyrex measuring pitcher – for measuring liquids!
Open the can of coconut milk, pour it into a medium-size bowl, and whisk or stir it well to thoroughly combine the cream on top into the liquid.
Step 2 – Roast and Fluff the Spaghetti Squash
Brush the inside of the squash halves with the melted coconut oil and season with 1/2 teaspoon of the salt and 1/4 teaspoon of the black pepper.
Bake until a knife easily slides into the flesh, for about 25 to 30 minutes.
You want the roasted squash to be fork-tender but not too soft and mushy. When it’s finished baking, you will remove it from the oven and set it aside to cool slightly on the baking pan.
When the squash is cool enough to handle, you’ll fluff the flesh with a fork, separating it from the skin. It will resemble thin pasta strands.
Step 3 – Cook the Aromatics and Veggies
While the squash is baking, place a large saucepot over medium heat. Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons oil in the pot and add the white and light green parts of the scallions. Stir occasionally until they begin to soften, for about 3 to 5 minutes
Add the ginger, garlic, and Thai chilies. Stir until very fragrant for about 30 seconds, making sure the garlic doesn’t burn.
Immediately stir in the bell peppers, green beans, and chopped bok choy. Season the veggies with the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Saute, stirring occasionally, until the veggies soften and have some light color, for about 2 to 3 minutes.
Step 4 – Add the Curry Paste and Liquids
Add the green curry paste and stir it in to coat the vegetables. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 1 minute.
Deglaze the pot with the vegetable stock, scraping up any fond or brown bits that are stuck to the bottom as you pour.
Bring the soup to a boil, then turn the heat to medium-low so the liquid stays at a very gentle simmer. Stir in the coconut milk.
Step 5 – Simmer, Add Spaghetti Squash, and Serve
Allow the soup to simmer gently for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. You want the veggies to be tender-crisp. Stir in the spaghetti squash strands and cook for about 5 more minutes..
Take the soup off the heat and stir in the sweet chili sauce and lime juice. Season to taste with additional salt and sweet chili sauce.
Divide the soup among bowls and garnish with sliced jalapenos, chopped green scallion tops, lime wedges, bean sprouts, cilantro, and Thai basil.
You can also invite your guests to garnish their own bowls with their desired toppings.
Store leftover soup and garnishes separately in airtight containers in the fridge for 3 to 5 days.
Enjoy Endless Opportunities for Customization!
One of my favorite things about homemade soup is that it’s endlessly customizable. If my veggie selection doesn’t do it for you, feel free to reach for broccoli, mushrooms, onion, or even spinach instead.
You could also stir in some firm tofu – 8 ounces cut into about 1/2-inch cubes – to boost the protein content while keeping things vegan-friendly.
Just don’t swap in another type of winter squash for the spaghetti. Its neutral, slightly sweet flavor is ideal, and the noodle-like strands are a shoo-in for this soup.
Do you squeeze in extra lime juice when you sit down to a big bowlful, or try to blow off your eyebrows with additional Thai chilies? Share the details of your garnish game in the comments below! And don’t forget to give this recipe a five-star rating if you loved it.
Hats off to that hefty spaghetti squash for offering a low-carb and nutrient-rich alternative to noodles. If you’re craving even more dishes featuring this heavyweight champion of the produce section, grab your forks and fire up the oven to make these recipes next:
- Spaghetti Squash with Sun-dried Tomatoes and Feta
- Curried Spaghetti Squash Bisque
- Pesto Spaghetti Squash
Photos by Fanny Slater, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Originally published by Shanna Mallon on September 5, 2013. Last updated on August 13, 2022. With additional writing and editing by Allison Sidhu and Nikki Cervone.
Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.
About Fanny Slater
Fanny Slater is a home-taught food enthusiast based in Wilmington, North Carolina who won the “Rachael Ray Show” Great American Cookbook Competition in 2014, and published her cookbook “Orange, Lavender & Figs” in 2016. Fanny is a food and beverage writer, recipe developer, and social media influencer. She was a co-host on the Food Network series “Kitchen Sink,” was featured on Cooking Channel’s longtime popular series “The Best Thing I Ever Ate,” and continues to appear regularly on the “Rachael Ray Show.”