**Elizabeth has come to the rescue with a deliciously amazing sounding Pumpkin Coconut Soup recipe! This pregnant mama has been dealing with 90 degree heat and foot swelling (already) but the soup sounds so amazing that I may just have to sit in a cold tub and enjoy it! I will be back soon with a new post of my own; thanks for bearing with me!**
Time for a confession: I still had pumpkins from Halloween on my front porch until the last weekend in February. We never carved them because the October blizzard totally squashed our Halloween spirit. So the pumpkins sat, preserved, on the porch until they became part of the scenery. But in the back of my mind, I kept thinking, “Maybe, if I ever get around to writing up my delicious pumpkin coconut soup recipe for Peace.Love.Pastries, maybe the pumpkins won’t look so bad that I couldn’t take a picture of them. Maybe.” But let’s be serious; they were from October, and last year was a lousy year for pumpkins to begin with. So we tossed them, and there will be no pictures of pumpkins, moderately decomposed or otherwise, with this recipe.
And now the story of this recipe: while at our local Mexican restaurant last fall, my husband ordered a pumpkin soup that strongly reminded us of Tom Kha Gai, the delicious Thai soup with chicken, mushrooms, and coconut milk. So I thought, “Hey. Let’s figure out how to make this at home.” First, I looked up different savory pumpkin soup recipes online, and I found one with curry powder that I thought would be a good place to start. It was awful. Do not trust a soup recipe that doesn’t start with sautéed onions. Just don’t do it. After we tried the soup and found the taste to be massively disappointing, my husband suggested adding fish sauce and red curry paste. How did my sweetness conceive of this brilliance? Several years ago, Cook’s Illustrated published a superb recipe for Tom Kha Gai that tackled the tricky issue of inaccessible authentic Thai ingredients (their solution was red curry paste). So then we thought, “Well, duh. Why didn’t we just use that recipe as a starting point?” So that’s what we did.
The original Cook’s Illustrated recipe appeared in the January and February 2007 issue, number 84, and it is delicious and amazing. I made some modifications because I wanted this soup to be more about the pumpkin and less about a straight replication of Tom Kha Gai soup. So I eliminated the lemongrass and an extra can of coconut milk, as well as the chicken and mushrooms. Also, I use chicken broth, as in the original recipe, but you could use vegetable broth to make this a (slightly fishy) vegetarian soup.
Here’s what you need:
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
3 large shallots, chopped
8 sprigs fresh cilantro, chopped coarse
1 + 2 Tablespoons fish sauce
4 cups chicken broth
1 14 ounce can coconut milk
1 29 ounce can pure pumpkin
1 Tablespoon sugar
3 Tablespoons juice from 2 to 3 limes
2 teaspoons Thai red curry paste
- Heat the vegetable oil in a large pot over medium heat. It will get shimmery. Add the shallots, cilantro, and 1 Tablespoon of fish sauce (my cats go nuts whenever I cook with fish sauce. So entertaining to witness). Cook, stirring frequently, until they are just soft, NOT brown. This should take around 2 to 5 minutes. Please don’t let them brown; the soup will taste slightly bitter.
- Stir in the broth (chicken or veg, your choice) and the coconut milk. Bring to a simmer over high heat. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 10 minutes.
- Now it’s time to strain the soup. You could pour the whole thing through a fine-meshed strainer, discarding the bits left in the strainer. Or you could be lazy like me, who also has an unreasonable collection of strainers in a variety of sizes, and just fish all the bits out using a small strainer. The first method is absolutely more fool-proof, but it makes you lift hot, heavy things. My method inevitably leaves some bits floating around in there, but you save yourself some energy and having to wash whatever container you strained the soup into.
- Return the soup to medium-high heat. Stir in the pumpkin and Tablespoon of sugar, and bring to a simmer. Let it simmer for 2 to 3 minutes.
- Let’s finish this thing! Combine the fresh lime juice, curry paste, and 2 Tablespoons of fish sauce in a small bowl. Stir it into the soup.
- You can garnish with more cilantro, scallions, and lime wedges.
Get ready for some Super Yum.