Thai Pumpkin Coconut Soup (vegan + gluten/lactose free)

Thai Pumpkin Soup
Copyright Darlene A. Schmidt, 11/23/09
    25 mins

In Thailand, pumpkin and coconut milk are commonly paired up to make a variety of soups, curries, and even sweet dishes. Here they are combined with a lightly curried soup that makes for a wonderful vegetarian/vegan entree - similar to those served at Thai or Vietnamese restaurants throughout North America. The addition of lemongrass makes it particularly healthy - great for chasing away cold & flu bugs. This soup is wonderful on its own, or serve it like they do in Thailand: with plain steamed rice or noodles on the side. Enjoy!

What You'll Need

  • 6 cups good-tasting faux chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1/3 to 1/2 can thick coconut milk
  • 4 Tbsp. minced fresh lemongrass, OR 3 Tbsp. ready-prepared (frozen or bottled)
  • 3 kaffir lime leaves, OR 1 tsp. grated lime zest
  • 3 cups pumpkin or squash, peeled and cut into bite-size chunks
  • 2 cups yam, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 1-2 cups soft tofu, sliced into cubes, OR substitute chickpeas
  • 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
  • 1-2 fresh red chilies, sliced, OR 1/4 to 1/2 tsp. dried crushed chili
  • 1/2 tsp. turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp. regular chili powder
  • 3/4 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 3-4 Tbsp. soy sauce, to taste (use wheat-free for gluten-free diets)
  • 1 tsp. brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh-squeezed lime juice
  • 1-2 generous handfuls baby spinach, washed
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil + 1/2 cup fresh coriander for toppings

How to Make It

For a non-vegetarian version of this soup, see: Thai Pumpkin Coconut Soup Recipe.
  1. Place stock in a pot over high heat. If making your stock from cubes or powder, be sure to make it strong-tasting - this will give you the best soup! Now add the lemongrass (include the leftover stalk pieces if using fresh lemongrass), plus the kaffir lime leaves, shallot, garlic, galangal or ginger, and chili. Bring to a boil.
  1. Add the pumpkin (or squash) and yam. Reduce heat slightly and gently boil for 6-7 minutes.
  2. While the soup is cooking, add the spices/flavorings, stirring with each addition: turmeric, chili powder, ground coriander, ground cumin, soy sauce, brown sugar, and lime juice.
  3. 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 if you want it creamier or less spicy).
  4. Stir well and taste-test the soup for salt and spice, adding more soy sauce or a little salt if not salty or flavorful enough (this will depend on the taste of your original stock). Add more lime juice if it happens to be 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 or chili sauce. If too spicy, add more coconut milk.
  5. Just before serving, add the soft tofu and spinach and gently stir it into the soup (the spinach will wilt instantly and the soft tofu will heat up in seconds). Portion out into bowls and top with the fresh basil and coriander. Note that this soup can be served as is, or with rice or noodles. In Thailand, it is served with rice on the side, each person adding their own directly to the soup. Enjoy!

Other Vegetables: Other veggies that can be added to this soup include: carrots, chopped red or green bell pepper, broccoli, mushrooms, and bok choy.