Is Almond Milk a Good Replacement for Coconut Milk in Thai Curry Soup?

Is Almond Milk a Good Replacement for Coconut Milk in Thai Curry Soup?

Coconut milk is a quintessential ingredient used in many Thai curry dishes. Its rich, creamy texture and subtle sweet flavor pairs beautifully with the aromatic Thai curry paste and spices.

However, some people need or prefer to avoid coconut products due to allergies, dietary restrictions, or availability of ingredients. Almond milk has become a popular dairy and nut milk alternative, so it seems like an obvious substitute for coconut milk in Thai recipes.

But does it stand up flavor and texture-wise? I made several batches of Thai curry soup, tweaking the recipe each time, to determine if almond milk can work as a replacement for coconut milk in this classic dish. can-you-use-almond-milk-for-soups

Key Takeaways

Key TakeawaysMain Points
Flavor ImpactAlmond milk lacks the sweet richness of coconut milk; Spices overpower delicate almond milk
Achieving TextureAlmond milk makes the curry broth too thin without modifications
Fixing Flavor & TextureAdding cornstarch and sugar helps compensate for almond milk issues
Nutrition ProsFar less fat, calories and sodium with almond milk
Final VerdictAlmond milk works with the right adjustments to flavor and thickness

Flavor Impact of Substituting Almond Milk for Coconut Milk

Coconut milk has a stronger, more pronounced flavor compared to almond milk. Coconut milk tastes creamy and sweet, while almond milk has a very subtle almost neutral flavor. When making Thai curry soup with almond milk instead of coconut milk, the flavor impact is noticeable:

    • The soup lacks the sweet richness imparted by coconut milk
  • The aromatic Thai spices and herbs overpower the more delicate almond milk
  • The soup tastes thinner without the thick unctuousness of coconut milk

Rather than tasting balanced and cohesive, the flavors compete with each other instead of harmonizing when almond milk is substituted in this recipe. The complex layers of flavor that coconut milk helps create are missing from the soup made with almond milk.

Achieving Proper Texture with Almond Milk

Along with lacking the sweet flavor of coconut milk that balances beautifully with hot and sour notes in Thai curry soup, almond milk impacts the texture as well. Coconut milk has high levels of fat that make it thick with a smooth, velvety mouthfeel. Almond milk is much lower in fat so it has a thinner, watery consistency.

When making Thai curry soup with almond milk, the texture differences are very noticeable:

Coconut MilkAlmond Milk
– Thick, creamy texture– Thin, watery texture
– Coats the mouth– Not as unctuous or mouth-coating
– Provides body– Lacking richness and body

The thinner almond milk impacts the overall mouthfeel and velvety thickness typically achieved with coconut milk. The soup broth feels too thin compared to the hearty richness that coconut milk offers.

Fixing Flavor and Texture Problems with Cornstarch

Is there any way to compensate for the lack of flavor and thinner mouthfeel of almond milk when swapping it for coconut milk in Thai curry soup? Adding a cornstarch slurry to the soup helps improve both the flavor and texture issues posed by using almond milk instead of coconut milk.

Is Almond Milk a Good Replacement for Coconut Milk in Thai Curry Soup?
Is Almond Milk a Good Replacement for Coconut Milk in Thai Curry Soup?

Here’s how the cornstarch method works:

    • In a small bowl, whisk together 1-2 teaspoons of cornstarch with 2 tablespoons of water until smooth. Set aside.
    • Make the Thai curry soup according to recipe directions, using almond milk in place of coconut milk.

 

  • Once the soup starts simmering, slowly drizzle in the cornstarch mixture while continuously stirring.
  • Allow the soup to come back up to a simmer. The broth will start thickening to a velvety texture within 1-2 minutes as the cornstarch gelatinizes.
  • For flavor boost, add a pinch or two of sugar while the cornstarch-thickened soup simmers.

The cornstarch thickens the otherwise too-thin almond milk, helping it better mimic the lush mouthfeel typically achieved with coconut milk. Simmering also intensifies flavor development in the soup, allowing the spices to shine more than they do with the plain almond milk. And a touch of sugar enhances overall flavor impact that is lacking without the inherent sweetness of coconut milk.

How Almond Milk Thai Curry Soup Compares In Terms of Nutrition

Many people seeking alternatives to coconut milk do so for health reasons or due to allergies and intolerances. Understanding how the nutritional profile changes can help determine if almond milk makes sense from a dietary standpoint.

Nutrition Facts per 1 CupCoconut MilkAlmond Milk
Calories44539
Fat48g2.5g
Saturated Fat43g0g
Sodium36mg186mg
Carbohydrates6g1g
Protein5g1g
Calcium1% DV45% DV
Vitamin E0% DV50% DV

The table clearly shows stark nutritional differences between coconut milk and almond milk. Coconut milk packs nearly 10 times more calories and 4 times more fat per cup compared to almond milk. Almond milk offers substantial amounts of calcium and vitamin E, while lacking the high saturated fat content of coconut milk.

For anyone monitoring saturated fat, calories, or overall fat intake, almond milk makes sense nutritionally over coconut milk. The calories and fat can add up quickly when using coconut milk in soups and curries compared to almond milk.

Ideal Soup Consistency When Using Almond Milk

Getting the right consistency with almond milk Thai curry takes a bit more effort than coconut milk since it lacks the inherent thickness. Here are some tips for achieving optimal soup texture:

Is Almond Milk a Good Replacement for Coconut Milk in Thai Curry Soup?
Is Almond Milk a Good Replacement for Coconut Milk in Thai Curry Soup?

Simmer the Soup Extra Long After Adding Cornstarch

The longer the soup simmers after adding the cornstarch slurry, the better the texture becomes. The bubbling liquid causes the cornstarch to swell and thicken. Simmer for 5-7 minutes once adding cornstarch to allow full thickening power.

Whisk the Cornstarch Before Adding It

If the cornstarch sinks and clumps when adding it, it won’t incorporate evenly. Always whisk the water and cornstarch in a separate bowl first until fully combined and lump-free.

Add More Cornstarch if Under-Thickened

For thicker soup broth, create an extra cornstarch slurry. Add another teaspoon of cornstarch whisked smoothly into two tablespoons water. Drizzle this into the simmering soup in a steady stream while stirring.

Balance Acidity to Prevent Curdling

High acid foods can cause milk curdling. Balance sour tamarind and lemon juice with a little extra sugar in the broth to prevent almond milk curdling.

Finish with Creamy Nut Butter

For extra lush mouthfeel, swirl peanut, almond or cashew butter into the finished soup. This adds body and subtle nutty richness.

Flavor Variations for Almond Milk Thai Curry Soup

Beyond the basic recipe, try these delicious flavor variations using almond milk:

Thai Red Curry Almond Milk Soup

Make it red and spicy! Use Thai red curry paste instead of green or yellow curry paste for an extra spicy, vibrant soup.

Thai Massaman Almond Milk Curry Soup

For a nutty, warmer curry flavor, use Thai massaman curry paste featuring spices like cinnamon, cumin and clove.

Thai Pumpkin Almond Milk Curry Soup

Blend diced pumpkin or butternut squash into the soup for natural sweetness and brighter orange color.

Thai Seafood Almond Milk Curry Soup

Cook shrimp, mussels, scallops or fish right in the broth for succulent seafood flavor.

Thai Chicken Almond Milk Curry Soup

Shred rotisserie chicken meat into the almond milk curry packed with chicken goodness.

So while almond milk impacts the classic flavor and texture of Thai curry soup made with coconut milk, the adjustments make it an acceptable dairy-free substitute. And the lower fat and calories compensate for any very subtle taste differences perceived. With the right modifications and flavor additions, almond milk can stand in for coconut milk in Thai curry soup recipes.

Making Almond Milk Work as the Best Possible Coconut Milk Substitute

While my testing shows almond milk can work in Thai curry soup, it does change the classic flavor and texture profile. There are a few other non-dairy alternatives worth considering if you want to minimize differences compared to coconut milk:

Is Almond Milk a Good Replacement for Coconut Milk in Thai Curry Soup?
Is Almond Milk a Good Replacement for Coconut Milk in Thai Curry Soup?

Cashew Milk

Like almond milk, cashew milk provides a neutral backdrop that lets the Thai curry flavors shine. It requires adding cornstarch to thicken, but its slightly richer nuttiness more closely mimics coconut milk.

Soy Milk

Opt for full-fat soy milk for a richer consistency closer to coconut milk. The texture requires no tweaking and it has enough natural sweetness to balance Thai curry’s spice blend.

Cream of Rice

This thickening grain cream adds nice body when substituted 1:1 for coconut milk. Simmer the curry paste in cream of rice first before adding broth for full thickening power.

Chicken or Vegetable Broth

Using all broth instead of milk/cream lets the Thai flavors speak for themselves. The clear savory broth lacks the unctuous mouthfeel but 71ets nuances shine.

So while almond milk won’t replicate the exact richness and sweetness of coconut milk in Thai curries, with the right preparation it can still deliver a very enjoyable alternative. Cashew, soy, and grain-based creams also mimic the texture well with their own strengths and subtle flavor influence. In the end, personal preference, diet and availability will determine the best coconut milk swap for your Thai cooking needs.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does almond milk separate or curdle in Thai curry soup?

Almond milk can separate if overheated or from high acidity levels. To prevent curdling, don’t boil the soup once almond milk is added. Keep at a low simmer. Also, balance acidic elements like tamarind and tomatoes with a little extra sugar.

Can I use almond milk straight from the carton or does it need modifications?

For best results, use the cornstarch slurry method provided in the recipe. Out of the carton almond milk will be too thin without adjustments to mimic coconut milk’s texture. The cornstarch fixes this.

Is homemade almond milk thicker than store-bought almond milk?

Yes, homemade almond milk is thicker and richer than store-bought which tends to be watery. To make your own, blend 1 cup raw almonds with 4 cups water, then strain out the solids. Use this thicker DIY milk in Thai curries.

Does almond milk change the nutrition of Thai curry soup?

Compared to coconut milk, almond milk significantly cuts down the calories, fat, saturated fat and sodium in Thai curry soup while adding valuable nutrients like calcium and vitamin E. It makes this treat healthier.

What brand of almond milk works best?

The best almond milks will only contain almonds and water, avoiding thickeners and stabilizers. Look for brands containing just these core two ingredients. My favorites for cooking are Califia Farms and Pacific Foods unsweetened milk.

Is almond milk affordable compared to coconut milk for curries?

Almond milk makes a budget-friendly coconut milk alternative, typically costing less per cup in most stores. Especially when considering homemade almond milk made from bulk raw almonds, it’s cheaper using almonds.

Almond milk

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