Thukpa is essentially the chicken noodle soup of Tibet, offering the same comforting aspects of chicken soup that we know and love, but with a fiery twist. The recipe originated in eastern Tibet and was brought to northeastern India by Tibetan refugees who settled in this region of the country after the Chinese occupation of their nation. The first time I tasted thukpa was after I arrived on a train in Guwahati on a cold winter’s day. Seeking warmth, I followed the aroma of chicken soup to a vendor spooning golden thukpa into dented metal bowls. In that single bowl of soup I found all the reassurance I needed that the long journey had been worth it. When I lived in New York City, where the winters can be brutal, there was nothing my husband, Vivek, and I loved more than tucking into a bowl of this Guwahati comfort food.
Thupka (Chicken Noodle Soup)
- Food Processor
- 2 large tomatoes, coarsely chopped
- 1- inch piece fresh ginger, peeled with a spoon
- 4 garlic cloves, peeled
- 3 serrano chiles
- 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs
- 2 quarts chicken stock
- 1 large carrot, peeled and coarsely chopped
- 2 red, yellow, or orange bell peppers, coarsely chopped
- 1 cup coarsely chopped green beans
- 1 can (8 ounces) bamboo shoots, drained
- 1 cup shredded green cabbage
- 6 ounces thin rice noodles
- Juice of 1 lemon
- Kosher salt
- Finely chopped scallions
- Bean sprouts
- In a food processor, combine the tomatoes, ginger, garlic, serranos, cumin, and oil and process until smooth. Transfer the paste to a heavy-bottomed pot along with the chicken and cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until aromatic, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the stock and bring to a boil.
- Reduce the heat to medium and add the carrot, bell peppers, beans, bamboo shoots, and cabbage. Cover the pot halfway and simmer until the vegetables are tender and the chicken is cooked through, 20 to 25 minutes.
- Add the noodles and lemon juice and simmer until the noodles are tender, 4 to 6 minutes. Season with salt.
- Spoon the thukpa into bowls, garnish with scallions and bean sprouts, and serve very hot.