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Spiced pumpkin soup with bean sprouts

Part-soup, part-curry, all flavour.

By Lisa Featherby
  • 40 mins preparation
  • 20 mins cooking (plus soaking)
  • Serves 6
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Part-soup, part-curry, all flavour. This pumpkin soup is flavoured with the spices and aromatics of South East Asian curries and laksa, with the brightness of coriander seeds and lemongrass, the warmth of turmeric, and the funk of dried shrimp. We've kept most of the pumpkin in pieces, but you can blend it with a stick blender for a smoother finish.


  • 1 tbsp peanut oil
  • 1 litre (4 cups) coconut milk
  • 600 ml chicken stock
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce (or to taste)
  • 15 gm palm sugar (or to taste)
  • 1 butternut pumpkin (about 1kg), peeled, seeds removed and cut into 2cm dice
  • Lime wedges for squeezing, plus extra (optional) to serve
  • Bean sprouts and Vietnamese mint, to serve
Spice paste
  • 3 tsp coriander seeds
  • 3 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 lemongrass stalks (white part only), coarsely chopped
  • 2 dried red chillies, soaked in warm water for 1 hour
  • 2 tbsp dried shrimp, soaked in warm water for 1 hour
  • 1 red onion, finely chopped
  • 20 gm galangal, pounded to a fine paste with a mortar and pestle
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 15 gm piece turmeric, coarsely chopped
  • 3 tbsp roasted shrimp paste
  • 1 tbsp peanut oil


  • 1
    For spice paste, dry-roast whole spices over medium heat until fragrant (1-2 minutes). Finely grind with a mortar and pestle. Process lemongrass in a small food processor until finely chopped, add ground spices, remaining ingredients and 1 tbsp water and process until smooth.
  • 2
    Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat, add spice paste and stir until fragrant (2-3 minutes). Add coconut milk and stock and bring to the boil. Add fish sauce and palm sugar, seasoning to taste, then add pumpkin and simmer until tender (10 minutes). Remove a third of the pumpkin and mash it with a fork, or blend until smooth, then return to soup. Season soup with salt and a squeeze of lime juice, divide among bowls, top with bean sprouts and Vietnamese mint and serve with extra lime.