Thai Pumpkin Soup with Shrimp

Thai Pumpkin Soup (Photo by Kitchen Wench/flickr)
Thai Pumpkin Soup (Photo by Kitchen Wench/flickr)

Serves 6.


500 g/1 lb butternut pumpkin (squash),
peeled and cubed
2 tablespoons lime or lemon juice
1 rounded teaspoon dried tamarind
60 g/2 oz/1/2 cup dried shrimp
6 shallots or 1 onion, finely chopped
3 hot red chillies, chopped
1 stem lemon grass, finely sliced
1/2 teaspoon dried shrimp paste
1 2 400 ml/14 fl oz can coconut milk
1 tablespoon fish sauce
250 ml/8 fl oz chicken stock
about 30 small basil leaves


Sprinkle squash with the lime juice. Put tamarind in a bowl and soak in 1/2 cup (4 fl oz) hot water. When water is cool squeeze to dissolve pulp, strain and discard seeds. Soak dried shrimp in just enough hot water to cover, leave for 10 minutes, then drain.

Put soaked shrimp, shallots, chillies, lemon grass and shrimp paste into an electric blender and blend to a paste, adding a little water if necessary to facilitate blending. Put paste into a saucepan, rinse out blender with 1 cup hot water and add to pan. Add half the coconut milk and the chicken stock, stir while bringing to the boil. Add squash and tamarind liquid, stir and simmer for 10 minutes or until squash is tender. Stir in remaining coconut milk and bring back to the boil. Sprinkle with basil leaves and serve.

Recipe excerpted from Encyclopedia of Asian Food by Charmaine Solomon (Periplus Editions, 1998)