This post is a bit retrospective as I made this soup a few weeks ago when pie-pumpkins were running amok. (Ok, bountiful is perhaps the better expression.) A gentle, soothing soup that will warm you, through and through.
You have two choices with respect to how to prepare the pumpkin: cooked (baked in oven, then scooped into broth) or uncooked (peel it and cube it). I prefer the first method as by baking it, the natural sugars in the pumpkin will start to carmellize which will add extra flavour to the soup. I also find that trying to slice off the skin of a pumpkin to be tedious and painstaking.
Prep Time: 30 minutes (+70 minutes to roast pumpkin)
Cook Time: 45-60 minutes
Total Time: 90 minutes
6 cups home-made chicken stock
14 oz (400ml) can thick coconut cream (or coconut milk for a lighter taste)
→ reserve a few tablespoons for topping
4 Tablespoons minced fresh lemongrass plus, reserve stalk
6 kaffir lime leaves, left whole, OR substitute zest of 1 lime
6 cups pumpkin, baked (see below) or peeled and cut into bite-sized cubes
→ if it isn’t pumpkin season, substitute butternut squash or yams,
but then omit sugar below
1 cup soft tofu, sliced into cubes (while optional, this adds protein to soup)
→ alternatively, use silken tofu for a creamier texture
1 medium red onion, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tablespoons ginger, minced
1-2 teaspoons chili paste (to taste)
1 Tablespoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon ground coriander
½ teaspoon cinnamon
1 Tablespoon brown sugar
1-2 Tablespoons fresh-squeezed lime juice (juice of ½ a lime)
3 Tablespoons fish sauce (to taste)
1 teaspoon pepper (to taste)
1 generous handful baby spinach, washed
½ cup fresh cilantro (optional for topping)
¼ cup toasted coconut (for topping)
To prepare the pumpkin, cut the pumpkin in half (lengthwise), scoop out the innards, and bake the pumpkin (cutside down) at 375˚ for 70 minutes until fully-cooked and it the natural sugars start to carmelize. You’ll know it’s done when you press on the outer skin and it presses in easily.
… Meanwhile, begin the prep for the soup:
- Carmelize the onions, then add ginger and garlic and diced lemon grass and sauté 2 minutes longer. Add spices, and sauté another 2 minutes. Deglaze with stock.
- Add the reserved stalks of the lemongrass to the stock and the kaffir lime leaves (or lime zest). These will be removed near the end are to deepen the flavours.
- Add enough chilli paste to suit your taste. Similarly, add fish sauce, brown sugar, and lime juice. Bring to a low boil.
- Add the pumpkin (or substitute). Reduce heat slightly and bring back to boil for 6-7 minutes.
- Reduce heat to low. Now stir in the coconut cream/milk (use less if you want less of a coconut taste).
- Stir well and taste-test the soup for salt (i.e. fish sauce) and spice (i.e. chili). Similarly, balance the sweet/sour with the sugar and lime juice.
- Add the tofu.
- Simmer for 30 minutes or so (if you used uncooked pumpkin, cook until the pumpkin is fully cooked and soft).
- Remove the lemon-grass stalks and lime leaves.
- Purée to desired consistency using hand-held food processor.
→ If you don’t have one, let soup cool and run it through food processor or
blender in batches — then return to heat.
- Just before serving, add spinach and gently stir it into the soup. Once the spinach has wilted (which is almost instantly), serve into bowls and top with the fresh cilantro and coconut.
Note: This soup freezes very well.