fire-pot soup

by jenna on January 11, 2012

Over the weekend, Adam and I took a short trip up to Mendocino, a seaside Victorian village about two hours north.

And when I say “village”, I mean village! The town was simply a row of quaint clapboard homes perched high on a cliff over the Pacific. It was like something out of a novel, with a very Cape Cod-esque feel. We both loved it!

While in Mendocino, we went wine tasting at Pacific Star Winery. And when I say “wine tasting”, I mean we spent five amazing hours there. Who does that? During those five hours, we became best friends with the owners (hi Sally! hi Marcus!), joined the wine club, played with the dogs and watched both the sun set and the moon rise.

It will forever go down as the longest (and best!) wine tasting ever.

Before we left, Sally told me we had to stop at The Mendocino Cafe on our way out for their Thai Fire-Pot Soup.

“It will warm you from the inside out! Ask for rice–not noodles—and shrimp, ” she said as I struggled to wiggle my toes, which at that point had frozen inside of my boots.

The temperature here drops about thirty degrees once the sun goes down and my Florida blood is still quite thin despite now being a Northern Californian for two and a half years. So, we listened to her advice and got the soup, which turned out to be phenomenal: shrimp and rice floating in a light and spicy curry broth. After three deliciously spicy slurps, my toes and fingers defrosted and I anxiously wrote down in my notebook different flavors that I was tasting so I could recreate it at home.

I used shrimp and tofu but shrimp and chicken would work, as would simply shrimp or simply tofu. The base of the soup is coconut milk and chicken broth, and it’s delightfully creamy without being heavy.

You may have to go on an adventure to your local Asian market for curry paste, Thai basil and lemongrass but I promise it’s worth the trip. This soup is perfect for chilly January weather and leftovers taste even better the next day once the flavors have a chance to settle a bit. If you want to make the soup a little less spicy, omit the Thai chilies. If you love spice, add another! Then come over for dinner—at my house, it’s the spicier the better.

Fire-Pot Soup

serves 4

Print this recipe!


3/4 lb raw shrimp, deveined, tails on or off

8 oz extra firm tofu, cut into small cubes

3 tbsp thai curry paste (available at large supermarkets and Asian markets)

1 tbsp canola oil

6 thai basil leaves, torn (available at Asian markets)

1 tbsp fish sauce

2 tsp brown sugar

1/2 tsp salt

1 14-oz can coconut milk

2 cups chicken broth

1 6-inch stalk lemongrass

1/2 lime, juiced

2 red or green Thai chilies, pierced with a knife

1/2 cup dry jasmine rice

cilantro for serving


Cook the rice in a cup and a half of water until tender (about thirty minutes). Fluff and set aside.

Heat up a teaspoon of oil in a large nonstick skillet on high heat. Add the shrimp and saute about thirty seconds, until pink and curled. Remove shrimp and place on a plate with the cubed tofu. Set aside.

Heat the remaining oil in the skillet and bring back to medium high heat. Add the curry paste and “mash” together with the oil until both are combined. Stir while cooking for another two minutes and then slowly whisk in the coconut milk and broth.

Add the fish sauce, brown sugar, salt, torn Thai basil, lime juice, lemongrass stalk and chilies and simmer for ten minutes. Chop the cooked shrimp and add both that and the tofu to the skillet and heat through. Add cooked rice to individual bowls and top with soup and sprinkle with chopped cilantro. Don’t forget to discard the lemongrass and chilies—you don’t want to eat those!


1 hour

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{ 93 comments… read them below or add one }

chelsey @ clean eating chelsey January 11, 2012 at 4:13 am

Oh my gosh, this soup looks amazing. Nothing like a little soup to warm your soul!


Averie @ Love Veggies and Yoga January 11, 2012 at 4:14 am

Wow, the little getaway you took looks amazing! I’ve been through Mendocino to a few wineries up in that area but never spent any real time there.

This soup sounds awesome. Coconut milk makes everything better :)

And those pictures…stunning!


Amanda January 11, 2012 at 4:25 am

Mendocino looks absolutely beautiful. I love Thai soups and I am definitely going to attempt a vegetarian version of this one. Thanks for recreating the recipe!


Blog is the New Black January 11, 2012 at 4:37 am

Ahhh, love me some soup!


Ashley January 11, 2012 at 4:47 am

I am so jealous if all the wonderful trips you and Adam take. I feel like I never go anywhere! Especially since I am back in school, full-time! The soup looks so delicious, I definitely will try making it at home. Thanks!


Haleigh January 11, 2012 at 4:48 am

That soup sounds delicious, and your photos are breathtaking… such a beautiful place.


Molly @ RDexposed January 11, 2012 at 4:56 am

Wine tasting plus beagle? Jackpot!


Sally @ Spontaneous Hausfrau January 11, 2012 at 4:59 am

What an awesome combo of flavors! The soup looks delish!


Angela @ Eat Spin Run Repeat January 11, 2012 at 5:07 am

I’m planning to visit a local Asian market very soon, so I’ll be sure to pick up those things you mentioned! I love Thai food, especially soups, and this sounds deicious!


Sarah January 11, 2012 at 5:36 am

I love your pictures, seriously, I LOVE THEM.. i am jealous and need to work on making mine as beautiful! :)


Lauren @ What Lauren Likes January 11, 2012 at 5:38 am

hmmm I love soup that warms you up all over! LOoks great :)


Julie @ Table for Two January 11, 2012 at 5:40 am

YUM! I was just reading a Thai cooking book yesterday and something similar to this was in it :) i want to make tom yum soup soon..this looks great :) i’m always down for some Thai food!


Heather Michelle @ A Sweet Simple Life January 11, 2012 at 5:55 am

This. looks. incredible…. what a warming, simple recipe. Looks like a fun weekend.

And I love your boots? Where did you get them?


jenna January 11, 2012 at 7:47 am

I got them from Nordstroms last August–thanks!


Joelle (on a pink typewriter) January 11, 2012 at 5:57 am

Ok, back up – is that a huge, delicious pancake in one of your photos?! I want the recipe to that guy! 😉


Cait's Plate January 11, 2012 at 6:17 am

Mendocino looks absolutely amazing. I could definitely get into a place like that.


Kristi January 11, 2012 at 6:20 am

Hope you don’t mind…I adapted to Weight Watchers and used your pic as the cover image for a recipe on the WW Community Recipe Forum. Love it!


Aundra Weissert | Fit for Life January 11, 2012 at 6:35 am

Love this post! Sounds like a fabulous little trip full of fun memories, and a yummy new soup to try!


Kara January 11, 2012 at 6:36 am

Jenna! Could you please tell me where you stayed? My husband and I live right outside Sacramento and have been looking for a place to stay when we take a little trip up to Mendicino county… and we really need a recommendation! Thank you!!


jenna January 11, 2012 at 7:49 am

We stayed at the Headlands Inn (a lovely bed and breakfast) and then, my favorite! The Andiron Seaside Cabins! I had been wanting to stay there forever but they are always booked. We were planning on only staying in Mendocino one night but then when the Andiron had an opening, we stayed another night so I could fulfill my dream (aka stop obsessing). Totally worth it! The cabins are super cute and really (!!) affordable. I highly recommend it!


DessertForTwo January 11, 2012 at 6:41 am

Ok, now I really feel like we have the same life! The Mr & I love Mendo & wine tasting in that area. Is Pacific Star the winery that’s on a cliff with an ocean view? If it is, it’s been on my list of places to go in Cali for years. Maybe we’ll make the trip soon! Would you recommend now or when the weather warms up?



Kelli H (Made in Sonoma) January 11, 2012 at 6:51 am

Your trip to Mendo sounds really nice! Glad you had a fun weekend. Oh yah, and the soup looks amazing!


Hilliary @Happily Ever Healthy January 11, 2012 at 6:55 am

Your photos are absolutely amazing, just beautiful! This soup looks delicious, and I would love to spend 5 hours at a wine tasting! Sounds like such fun!


Deborah January 11, 2012 at 6:58 am

Yeah, I’m pretty sure I’d devour this!!


Bev Weidner January 11, 2012 at 7:08 am


(sorry about the call caps thing. I just freaked out.)


Gina @ Running to the Kitchen January 11, 2012 at 7:18 am

This sounds like the perfect warming soup. I love Thai flavors in soup, it totally puts typical American chicken noodle to shame.


Mary @ Bake Break January 11, 2012 at 7:31 am

This looks like my kind of soup – I can’t wait to try it!


Emily January 11, 2012 at 7:35 am

OMG…this soup looks amazing! And your trip to the winery sounds wonderful too!!


Rebecca January 11, 2012 at 7:39 am

I love Mendocino! My hubby and I stayed there on our honeymoon.


Notyet100 January 11, 2012 at 7:45 am

Ummm perfect for winters:)


Maria January 11, 2012 at 8:11 am

I love following you on Instagram, although it makes me jealous of your adventures:) Love this soup!


Jenny January 11, 2012 at 8:20 am

I’m going ot have to agree with Maria – I wish me and the boy would go on trips like this more often!! unfortunately the outskirts of NYC seem to be jersey :(


Lesley January 11, 2012 at 8:23 am

Oh, that looks so yummy! I am also a FL-West Coast transplant and though I love the cooler weather, it does take some getting used to! My hubby travels all around the West/Northwest for work and we hope to be in CA later this year– will definitely make a mental note to visit Mendocino, The Mendocino Cafe & Pacific Star Winery. Because we love quaint little towns, good food and spending 5 hours at a winery. 😉


Penny @ Big Spoon, Little Spoon January 11, 2012 at 8:34 am

Wow, must be Thai curry week in food blog land!

Can’t wait to try this variation, Jenna… and I cant get over your photos – stunning!


Urban Wife January 11, 2012 at 8:40 am

Mendocino looks so dreamy! I love that first shot with the sun rays. Gorgeous!
And this fire soup…a dream come true especially for my spicy-food loving husband. Thanks for sharing!


amy walters, aDESIGNdock January 11, 2012 at 8:45 am

Your trip sounds amazing 😉 And I really love the sound (and look) of this recipe. Gorgeous pics!


Amanda @ Once Upon a Recipe January 11, 2012 at 8:59 am

This soup looks fantastic! It reminds me of a soup that is served in the cafeteria at the hospital that I work at (seriously, the “hospital food” there is fantastic) that is called Wicked Thai soup. It has a similar base, and is loaded with rice and chicken. It is so delicious and I’ve been meaning to try to recreate it at home. I’m going to give your recipe a go to see if it’s as similar as I think. Thanks Jenna!


Janna January 11, 2012 at 9:00 am

I love the collage of photos…especially the one with the grapefruit!


Lauren January 11, 2012 at 9:05 am

That place is seriously picture perfect! Gorgeous!


Koko January 11, 2012 at 9:15 am

This soup looks perfect! I’ve spent some time in Asia, and I always crave their coconut soups and curries when I get home. The shrimp and tofu combination looks ideal!


Amanda January 11, 2012 at 9:27 am

I wish I could use coconut milk, but unfortunately I am allergic. Do you know of a good substitute (or more) that will lend itself to this re-creation?


jenna January 11, 2012 at 9:31 am

Try substituting the coconut milk for an equal amount of canned evaporated milk—let me know how it works!


Katie @ Katie Without Restrictions January 11, 2012 at 9:31 am

Your pictures are stunning ~ everything looks amazing!


Jayna January 11, 2012 at 9:37 am

Did you use red curry?


jenna January 11, 2012 at 9:48 am

I did–red curry paste


Gina (Yogattude) January 11, 2012 at 9:37 am

I LOVE Mendocino! My boyfriend and I took a weekend trip there when we first started dating for the white wine festival (do it if you get the chance!!) We stayed in the most charming inn…Little River Inn. They had the best breakfast and views of the ocean! If you go back, try the Mendo Bistro in town. I had a jobsite there (rough life!) and we ate there almost every night. The menu is always changing and everything was fantastic!


jenna January 11, 2012 at 9:49 am

sounds great! thanks so much for the tip!


Deanna B. January 11, 2012 at 9:51 am

What a fabulous trip. And making friends with local wine makers is always the best. They know all the best restaurants. And while I’m sure this soup is delicious with rice, I’m a noodle girl all the way. I’m willing to bet it would still be delicious with some rice noodles.


Kris January 11, 2012 at 10:07 am

That sounds so good right now. I’m sitting here with freezing cold feet, typing with fingerless gloves on. I am making this tonight!!!


Becca January 11, 2012 at 10:22 am

Was the soup filling on its own? Or accompanied with warm, buttered bread and cheese perhaps?

My husband keeps nagging on me to make a soup from scratch. I do love my Imagine soups. They have some great ones.


Diana January 11, 2012 at 10:22 am

I feel like I’ve died a thousand times just reading your description about Mendocino. So lovely! It’s been my dream to live there for like who knows how long. That soup sounds divine!


Alexa @ Simple Eats January 11, 2012 at 11:19 am

This soup looks phenomenal…I love the combo of shrimp AND tofu!


Michelle January 11, 2012 at 11:50 am

How cute that village sounds! This soup sounds so warming and delicious!


Kahea January 11, 2012 at 12:03 pm

Mendocino (the village and the county) has been one of my favorite places to day trip to lately — even though it’s some serious miles away — but I’ve never stopped by Pacific Star Winery! Fail! Must try it next time and, in the mean time, am making this soup. :)


Hannah R. January 11, 2012 at 1:18 pm

This looks and sounds amazing!! Can’t wait to make it:)


Kimberly (Sketch the Ebb and Flow) January 11, 2012 at 1:32 pm

That soup looks amazing! I LOVE Mendocino. You should camp there in the summer when you get a chance! I’ll have to stop by the Pacific Star Winery the next time I visit!


Kristin @ FoodFash January 11, 2012 at 1:40 pm

What an amazing trip! I love any kind of Thai soup because of that perfect balance of creamy, but not too heavy.


Sara January 11, 2012 at 2:57 pm

Another amazing recipe from Jenna!! I was wanting to have soup for dinner but couldn’t figure out what I wanted. I felt like something creamy but didn’t want the old standard … butternut squash. Saw this post and knew immediately it was what I wanted! Picked up the ingredients on my way home from work and the soup is currently simmering on my stove! Smells amazing!! Can’t wait to dig in! I only used tofu, no shrimp, and added carrots and broccoli for some extra veggies!


Karen January 11, 2012 at 3:12 pm

Soup looks delish, but I especially love the backstory…what I love most about you is your adventurous spirit and your humor in retelling the story :)


Cara January 11, 2012 at 3:18 pm

This soup looks phenomenal! I can’t wait to try it!


Angela @ Happy Fit Mama January 11, 2012 at 3:51 pm

Love, love, love the first picture! Stunning! And the soup, if it looks that good, it must be amazing. Thanks for another recipe added to the growing list of ‘must make.’


Kate January 11, 2012 at 4:12 pm

Ooh, must make this soon! I love Mendocino. My dad organized annual abalone gathering/camping trips there each spring until he passed away. Now his best friend carries on the tradition and I go whenever I can. It’s a stunning place (and fresh abalone is not bad, either).


Becca January 11, 2012 at 6:13 pm

Hey! I am in Australia and eat this soup all the time- it is called Laksa- a thai soup they have everywhere here and is itttt


cluttercafe January 11, 2012 at 6:53 pm

this looks wonderful. I can’t wait to try it


Jess@recipesandrunning January 11, 2012 at 8:46 pm

I live in Singapore so this would be great for me – at the supermarket they sell these little “thai” packets with kaffir lime, lemongrass and such so you can make these dishes. Thanks for sharing!


GRAMMIE2MADDIE January 12, 2012 at 5:52 am


Would it work to sub veg broth instead of chicken? In the past I have found that veg broth changed the flavor of some dishes – negatively.

What do you think?


jenna January 12, 2012 at 9:00 am

You could! Or you could just use water.


Nakia January 12, 2012 at 5:57 am

This looks so tasty! I’m off to hunt up the ingredients to make it for tonight’s dinner.
A few weeks ago I bought a lemongrass tea and after a cup of it I decided it would be much better used to flavor broth for a soup. I wonder if using that instead of fresh lemongrass would work.


Lindsay January 12, 2012 at 9:13 am

After I saw this post yesterday, I immediately decided I should make it and use up the rest of the tofu I had on hand. Luckily, our tiny little grocery story stocks a lot of the Thai ingredients, and I found pretty much everything but Thai basil. It was so easy to make and most importantly, it tasted AMAZING. I am already looking forward to making it again!


Sandy January 12, 2012 at 10:29 am

My husband and I visited Pacific Star Winery when we were in Fort Bragg on his and my son’s Califonia Coastal Bicycle ride last fall. We only spent two hours there, but fell in love with the place nonetheless! We also joined their wine club and truly enjoy every single wine we’ve received so far. We even bought a case of their It’s My Fault wine!


shira rose January 12, 2012 at 11:44 am

Hi Jenna,

I really love your blog: all your recipes and writing are fabulous :) I have been reading it for awhile, though this is my first comment!
I shop at an Asian grocery store nearby often because it’s so close and my bf and I love to play with Asian flavours and seafood!
Anyways, this soup looks so good I bought ingredients for it today!! The one thing I forgot were Thai Basil Leaves. Are these important?? What could sub if they are or do I need them? Any help would be great, but otherwise I will just try it without!
I could only buy the chilli’s in a pack of like 20 so I’m gonna need another recipe with those in there haha :)
Also Mendocino looks beautiful.. Mendocino is the name of my favourite store here in Toronto, I didn’t even know it was a place 😉


jamie January 12, 2012 at 6:31 pm

Just made this tonight. It’s a winner! So good, my husband friggen loved it. Thanks!!


Kim January 13, 2012 at 11:58 am

Yum, Red Curry with Tofu is my favorite takeout Thai dish. Can’t wait to try this recipe!


madeline January 13, 2012 at 10:44 pm

Hi Jenna! It’s Madeline, owner (with the mister) of The Andiron! You know what’s kooky? I just got back from the Mendo Cafe and had the Thai firepot soup with tofu for dinner, and came home to find a notice about your blog post (I get pinged whenever people blog about The Andiron). I’m glad we weren’t booked, and that you got to come stay! Come back!


Sarah@studiofood January 14, 2012 at 12:09 am

Wow, that looks so amazingly delicious! With the tofu, do you think it could be adapted for the slowcooker/crockpot? I’m currently without a stove. :(


Feeding My Folks January 14, 2012 at 7:49 pm

That soup looks amazing! Totally making it this week, especially since NJ has been pretty Arctic the last few days haha


Erica January 16, 2012 at 9:52 am

Loved this soup, and loved how easy it was to make! My Thai basil had gone bad so my version was basil-less, but it still came out fine. And I snuck some extra veggies in, too :)


Mel January 27, 2012 at 7:59 am

Tweaked this just a little bit to make it vegan-friendly and made it last night….and I think it might be my favorite thing I’ve ever made from your blog! I also fried my tofu before I added it to the soup to make it a little crispy. I may never have to go out for thai again :)


Jeff May 9, 2012 at 6:49 pm

Looks perfect to help defeat some summer heat! I bet the leftovers taste amazing once those flavours sit and combine! It has some beautiful colour to it! Great recipe!


Moni Meals August 8, 2012 at 8:43 am

Yum! I have a similar recipe but this looks Devine! Great pics too.


Alicia (foodycat) September 1, 2012 at 10:59 am

I love this sort of Asian broth. It is definitely what you need to warm you all the way through!


Jo October 29, 2012 at 9:43 am

How spicy is this dish on a scale of 1 to 10? I generally like Thai food, but sometimes I feel like the spiciness of some Thai dishes mask all the other wonderful flavors of the dish. This looks yummy can’t wait to try it!


Em December 30, 2012 at 7:23 pm

This looks Delicious. What brand of Thai curry paste do you use?


Jennie January 7, 2013 at 5:32 pm

Can you make this in the crock pot? I am loving your recipes.


Lynda June 10, 2013 at 7:40 am

This soup comes together very quickly, and you will destroy the delicate flavors by overcooking in a crock pot. If you prep and measure everything before you start, then the soup will be done in a blink! :)


Andrea January 11, 2013 at 2:54 pm

Pure coincidence that I was searching for this recipe on it’s 1 year anniversary – must be perfect for this time of year!


Lynda June 10, 2013 at 7:45 am

This is my favorite soup! Lovely recipe!
If you can find it, then Palm Sugar is traditional to Thai cuisine and won’t overpower the more delicate flavors in your recipe. It comes in solid little bee hive shaped lumps and you grate off the amount you need. It lasts forever in a tightly sealed container too. :)


Amanda November 8, 2013 at 9:25 am

This is the second recipe of yours that I have made in two weeks time (and I made one of them twice in one week!). I made the spicy lentils with sweet potato and kale and I have to say its so fabulous. Something about the flavors of the kale and sweet potato really compliment each other. And this fire pot soup is so amazing! I didn’t have quite enough chicken stock so it came out more like a stew, but it is divine, filling and healthy! Thank you for so many good recipes!


Gwen January 12, 2014 at 5:57 pm

This looks really great! I will definitely have to try it!!

Feel free to check out my blog too. I’m new to the blogosphere world!


Emily January 13, 2014 at 9:07 am

If you’ve had 8,000+ hits on your blog – I’m the reason. I love this soup and haven’t saved it yet. My new husband loves it. It’s so easy to substitute ingredients. I add leftover vegetables some nights. We replace the shrimp with whatever we have. I threw in lots of fresh ginger and garlic last time. Such a good recipe as is, but also a gem of a recipe for subbing.


ChannonD September 24, 2014 at 7:21 pm

This looks so yummy!!! May I ask what kind of curry paste you recommend? I have red, yellow & green. From the look of it, I am thinking red…
Thank you!


Shelly January 7, 2015 at 1:02 pm

Found this and I fell in love with this recipe. This is amazing we made it with chicken and it was awesome. Unfortunately we don’t have a lot of authentic ethnic stores out in astoria, or and local Safeway only sells red thai curry paste. Can you tell me which paste you used?


Elizabeth January 16, 2015 at 12:07 am

I made this for the first time tonight and It was delicious!! I’ve been saving the recipe for a while now. We have a Thai restaurant in town that has a coconut milk based soup and I am in love with it! This is very similar. I used massaman curry paste and it had just the perfect amount of heat for me. My husband loves it too!!! The perfect soup for a cold winter night. Next time I think I’ll double the recipe and have people over. I love the idea of maybe throwing in some veggies, this is a very versatile soup!!!


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