As Thai meals are typically served family style, with all diners sharing entrees, a Thai curry or soup is usually ordered with a meal. The consistency of each Thai curry varies widely, with some curries arguably classifiable as soups.
However, most Thai curries are coconut milk-based and some are spicier than others. Gaeng Massaman, is a mild, peanut and potato curry; Gaeng Kiaw Wan (Thai green curry) is a curry of medium thickness and spiciness, while Gaeng Daeng (red curry), otherwise known as Gaeng Pet (spicy curry), is a thinner, obviously spicier option.
Tom Kha, a mild coconut soup, blurs the lines between soup and curry, while Tom Yam Kung, a quintessential Thai soup, is often blisteringly hot. While Thai curries are shared and meant to be ladled over rice, soups are served communally with diners receiving small bowls to eat out of.
Although some curries and soups can be served without meat for vegetarians, many Thai cooks put fish sauce in all dishes as it’s the Thai substitute for salt.