In Thailand, pumpkin and coconut milk are commonly paired up to make a variety of both savory and sweet entrees. In this recipe, the two come together beautifully in a lightly-curried soup that tastes as delicious as those you may have tried at your favorite Thai restaurant. A variety of protein sources can be used with this soup, including tofu, deep-fried tofu, shrimp, or chickpeas (for a purely vegetarian/vegan recipe, see link below). It makes a perfect meal on a chilly night, but is also wonderful to serve as an appetizer for a dinner party. Enjoy!
- 6 cups chicken stock
- 1/3 to 1/2 can thick coconut milk
- 4 Tbsp. minced fresh lemongrass OR bottled/frozen-prepared
- 3 kaffir lime leaves, left whole, OR substitute 1 tsp. lime zest
- 3 cups pumpkin or squash, peeled and cut into bite-size chunks
- 2 cups yam or sweet potato, peeled and cut into chunks
- 1-2 cups soft tofu, sliced into cubes OR substitute chickpeas or cooked shrimp
- 1 shallot, minced, OR 1/4 cup minced purple onion
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 thumb-size piece galangal or ginger, grated or sliced thinly into matchsticks
- 1 fresh red chili, sliced, OR 1/4 to 1/2 tsp. dried crushed chili, OR 1-2 tsp. chili sauce
- 1/2 tsp. turmeric
- 3/4 tsp. ground coriander
- 1 tsp. ground cumin
- 2-3 Tbsp. fish sauce, to taste
- 1/2 to 1 tsp. shrimp paste, OR 1 extra Tbsp. fish sauce
- 1 tsp. brown sugar
- 2 Tbsp. fresh-squeezed lime juice
- 1 generous handful baby spinach, washed
- 1/2 cup fresh basil (topping)
Place stock in a pot over high heat. Add the prepared lemongrass (plus leftover stalk if using fresh lemongrass), the kaffir lime leaves, shallot, garlic, galangal or ginger, and chili. Bring to a boil.
Add the pumpkin (or squash) and yam. Reduce heat slightly and gently boil for 6-7 minutes.
While the soup is cooking, add the spices/flavorings, stirring with each addition: turmeric, ground coriander and cumin, fish sauce, shrimp paste, brown sugar, and lime juice. Tip: Don't be tempted to omit the fish sauce and shrimp paste - they smell bad, but make for wonderfully-flavored soup!
When pumpkin and yam are soft enough to eat, reduce heat to low. Now stir in the coconut milk (start with 1/3 can and increase to 1/2 can depending on how creamy you want it).
Stir well and taste-test the soup for salt and spice, adding more fish sauce if not salty or flavorful enough (this will depend on the 'saltiness' of your stock). Add more lime juice if it's too salty or sweet. If it's too sour for your liking, add a little more sugar; also adjust the spice level by adding more chili. If too spicy, add more coconut milk.
Just before serving, add the soft tofu and spinach and gently stir it into the soup (the spinach will wilt instantly). Portion out into bowls and top with the fresh basil and coriander. Note that this soup is usually served with rice on the side, but it could also be served with noodles. Enjoy!
Tip: For a more gourmet-style soup, as one of the reviewers of this recipe suggested, put finished soup in blender and blitz before serving. This makes for a creamy-wonderful soup.