In my quest to weasel more winter squash into my diet (they’re very inexpensive at the supermarket right now), I managed to buy one too many pie pumpkins last week. Yes, I’m the cherished friend who impulse-buys winter squash. Aren’t you glad to have me around?
There are only so many sweets I can whip up before the diabetic coma sets in, so I rooted through a stack of savory recipes incorporating America’s trendiest autumn gourd to bring you today’s recipe, a flavorful lentil soup that’s going on dinner rotation at our house for the wintry days ahead.
Cameron and I eat plenty of Asian-influenced meals at home, but until last weekend we hadn’t considered marrying the ubiquitous pie pumpkin to Thai and Indian ingredients. Fortunately, Jenny Chandler’s The Better Bean Cookbook enlightened us with her take on creamy pumpkin, coconut, and lentil soup.
The original recipe calls for you to peel the pumpkin, but after peeling half a pumpkin the week before for the penne dish I shared on the blog, I wasn’t in the mood to do battle with another pumpkin. Don’t let me stop you from peeling a pumpkin, though. It’s a fine upper body workout, but after fifteen minutes of wrestling the pumpkin on the counter as I tried to remove its skin, I was on the verge of dashing that gourd to our old wood floor. Reason overtook me in the end, which is probably for the best. I didn’t have to explain to a repair person how the floor ended up with a pumpkin-sized hole in it.
So, if you, too, aren’t up for the pumpkin-peeling workout, lightly roast the pumpkin, skin intact, and save your elbow grease for finely dicing the lemongrass. And if you want to keep the recipe vegan, substitute the fish sauce with umami-rich soy sauce.
Pumpkin, Coconut, and Lentil Soup
(adapted from The Better Bean Cookbook recipe)
– 2 TBS vegetable oil
- 1 small bunch of spring onions, finely diced
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 2-inch piece of ginger, chopped
- 1 to 2 fiery chilis, finely chopped
- 2 stalks of lemongrass, outer leaves removed and remainder finely sliced
- 1 cup red lentils, rinsed
- 1 lb 2 oz pumpkin, peeled, deseeded, and cut into 3/4-inch cubes/pieces (or for less headache, roast a halved pumpkin until just tender, and then remove from oven, cool, and cut into chunks)
- 5 cups vegetable stock
- 14 oz can of coconut milk
- 1 TBS tamarind paste (I couldn’t find the paste at our local Asian market, so I added a few extra squeezes of lime and few extra pinches of brown sugar to compensate.)
- 2 TBS finely chopped fresh cilantro
- Thai fish sauce (Use soy sauce to keep the recipe vegan.)
- Juice of 1 to 2 limes
- Pinch of brown sugar or palm sugar
1. If you’d like to save yourself a headache from peeling the skin from the pumpkin, preheat oven to 400 degrees F, and place the pumpkin half (or halves, depending on size) flat side down, and roast for 30 to 40 minutes until the flesh is slightly tender. Remove, cool, and then carefully cube the pumpkin flesh before setting aside for the recipe.
2. Heat the oil in a soup pot, and add most of the spring onions (setting aside a TBS to garnish). Add the garlic, ginger, chili, and lemongrass, and stir for a minute or two, until this powerhouse flavor combo becomes very aromatic.
3. Add the lentils, pumpkin, and the stock, and simmer until the lentils are soft and the pumpkin flesh as collapsed.
4. Stir in the coconut milk, tamarind, and most of the cilantro. Now, taste and balance the soup with fish sauce or soy sauce, lime juice, and sugar.
5. Serve hot, sprinkled with the remaining spring onions and cilantro. We warmed a few naan and sopped up the soup that way.