Monday, October 20, 2014

All Thai'd Up: Thai Pumpkin Soup

Years ago, Thai food was not nearly as well-known or readily available as it is today. So when a friend wanted to describe a night out one time, she felt the need to say, ''I had dinner at a Thai restaurant last night—y'know, T-H-A-I???''

This is by no means an authentic recipe, but it's definitely inspired by the balance of flavors found in Southeast Asian cooking. It's spicy and tangy, yet infinitely comforting on a crisp day. And like I said, it's all about pumpkin this time of year!

thai pumpkin soup coconut milk

Thai Pumpkin Soup

4 Tablespoons coconut oil, olive oil, or butter (or a combination)
2 large red onions, or 4 large shallots, thinly sliced into half-moons
2 Tablespoons ground ginger
2 bay leaves
1 cup chicken stock
2 cans (15 oz. each) pumpkin puree (about 4 cups)
1 can (14 oz.) coconut milk (or one 7 oz. package coconut cream diluted with enough hot water to make about two cups total)
Juice of two whole limes
A few dashes of ground cayenne pepper/pepper flakes or finely chopped fresh hot peppers (optional)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Optional garnishes/ideas: For the finished soup, sprinkle over chopped fresh coriander leaves, thinly sliced scallion, chopped roasted peanuts or cashews, shredded cabbage, celery or carrots; stir in leftover diced chicken, chopped hard-boiled egg, baby spinach, crumbled bacon, diced ham, etc., and/or serve over cooked rice.

In a large pan or Dutch oven over medium-low heat, sauté onions in oil/butter with some salt and pepper until completely softened (keep the pan covered and stir frequently to help them along). Once the onions are ready, add the dried ginger and bay leaves, stirring around for a few minutes to release their flavors. Add the chicken stock, and let bubble down for a few minutes. Stir in the remaining ingredients, breaking up the pumpkin puree until smooth, and adjusting with salt and pepper to taste. Let simmer on low for at least 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, so all the flavors have a chance to combine.

Notes: This is a THICK soup, so if that doesn't appeal to you, add another cup or so of stock. As with most soups, it also freezes extremely well. Instead of canned pumpkin, substitute any fresh winter squash puree if you have it!



Please share your thoughts and experience!