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Thai Pumpkin and Parsnip Soup

Updated: Jan 26, 2023

Prep: 15 min // Cook: 30 min

 

It's October, a little bit colder and pumpkins have overwhelmed the grocery counters so what's best than a pumpkin soup with a tropical Thai breeze?


I love everything Thai and I am a huge fan of Thailand and Thai cuisine. Period. Thai food comes only second to my top 5 cuisines, right after Greek/Mediterranean, competing with Peruvian in third place. My explanation is that possibly Thai cuisine (as well Peruvian) is closer to my Greek palate, i.e. more fresh and herby than spicy (with lots of spices), and plenty of seafood too. This soup is totally my own signature recipe, not something I was taught while in Thailand and not something traditionally served in Thailand like Tom Yum or Tom Kha Gai. This is a fusion recipe that I came up with using my Thai flavour journey and lessons learned from cooking Thai food.


Recipe

Easy peasy: Take a random simple sweet potato or pumpkin soup online or from a cookbook and load it with Thai herbs and seasonings. Re-play your recipe a couple of times until you fine-tune and balance it, et voila! I totally recommend using Thai style seasonings for this soup, alternatively, go for something like ground allspice or mixed spice. Notably, the introduction of lemongrass, ginger, lime, and peanut butter was what made the difference, altogether giving this soup the "Satay" uplift I was looking for. What you will notice in this recipe is that unlike all similar recipes on the web, this one does not have coconut milk but tomato puree. That makes the difference and brings warmth, depth and generally a wow factor to this soup.


Equipment

Medium pan, hand blender (see my product recommendation at the end of this post)

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil

  • 400g pumpkin or butternut squash flesh

  • 1 parsnip (optional - in season Oct-Dec)

  • 1 tsp Thai spice seasoning (see my product recommendations) - or replace with 1 tsp red curry paste

  • 3 cm ginger root, grated

  • 2 shallots (or 1 onion), chopped

  • 1 garlic clove, crushed

  • 1 cup tomato juice or passata

  • 1 fresh bird's eye chilli pepper (or 1 tbsp of some Thai chilli/curry paste)

  • 2 small lemongrass stalks (or 1 large)

  • 2 tbsp peanut butter

  • 750ml vegetable stock

  • 1 lime

For the garnish

  • Fresh coriander leaves

  • 1 spring onion, or chilli pepper (for the brave), sliced

  • Roasted peanuts or pumpkin seeds

Directions

  • Peel and cut the pumpkin (and parsnip – if using) into chunks and boil for around 10-15 mins until fork tender. Discard the water and set the boiled veggies aside. But before discarding the boiled water, save as much as possible for your vegetable stock. Top up with more hot water and a vegetable cube to make 750ml of stock.

  • In the meantime, prepare the rest of the ingredients: peel and grate the ginger, slice the chilli and shallot, and finely slice the white tender part of the lemongrass. If you don’t know how to peel and cut lemongrass, watch this quick video.

  • Heat the oil in a deep saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the sliced shallot with some ground pepper and cook 2-3 mins until softened. Then add the garlic and stir fry for 30 sec. Stir in the tomato juice, chilli (or curry paste), lemongrass, ginger, and the spice mix. Adjust the heat so the mixture boils gently and cook for 5 minutes. If you don't want it too spicy, skip the chilli/curry paste from this step.

  • Add the pumpkin chunks, the peanut butter and the stock, season with salt and pepper and let them simmer for another 5-7 mins with closed lid.

  • Remove from heat and blend the soup in the pan with a hand blender. Top up with some more stock if the soup is too thick and blend again.

  • Squeeze the lime in the soup and give it a nice good stir. Serve it with any combination of ingredients suggested for garnish.


Freezing Tips ❆

Can you freeze lemongrass stalks? The answer is YES, lemongrass is perfectly suitable for freezing. Some freeze it chopped and ready to use, but I like keeping the outer woody layer on and just trimming the top and tip to shorten it down to around 5-6cm. I then wash them, pat them completely dry in a towel, wrap them in cling film and freeze them all together in a sealable freezer bag. Although there's no need to unfreeze before use, I usually thaw the frozen stalk first in warm water for a few minutes, then remove the outer layer (to release the protected aromas) and use it as the recipe suggests, chopped or whole. It can keep in the freezer for 3 months.

Find some more recipes with lemongrass here.



Shopping List

Below are my favourite authentic products I used to cook and shoot this recipe. If you can't see the icons and links, please deactivate your ad-blocker and refresh the page :-) By clicking and purchasing through the links, I earn a small commission at no extra cost to you.


Thai Cookbooks: If you like good looking and exceptional content cookbooks and you'd only go for one Thai cookbook, that'd be definitely Phaidon Press Thai Cookbook. Bulky but comprehensive, this book is the A-Z of Thai food; with recipes collected from chefs and locals throughout the whole country, you will find here all authentic food that you've tasted in Thailand or in your local Thai restaurant. But if you are addicted to Thai food and cook Thai a great deal, I'd totally recommend getting at least one more book. My personal preference would be something from Bangkok as it's not only the capital of Thailand but the whole Thai cuisine too. My first choice would be Bangkok Cookbook: Unique twists to authentic recipes that you can only find being cooked in Bangkokian street stalls, food stories from the capital and beautiful photography. Alternatively, I also liked a lot the Busaba cookbook. Not just for being one of my favourite casual Thai restaurants in London, but also because the recipes are designed for a party table or casual dinner with friends, meaning they are fun and simple to recreate and the ingredients easy to be found.











 

Shop the Look. If you liked my setups on the photos, here is the list of items you can buy to build the same look:










 

Thai spice mix. OK, Swartz is a quite good brand if you can pop to the nearest Tesco for convenience. But if you are lazy at home and you're planning to take it to the next level (as well as placing a big Thai ingredient order for a Thai dinner from Amazon), I recommend the authentic spice (imported from Thailand) brand Lobo. I've also trialled Spice Cartel's and the Spice Masters Thai 7 spice mix and I found them really impressive too!









 

Peanut butter. We are lucky here in the UK having access to a great variety of fantastic peanut butter products, organic or not, but the one that has stolen our hearts is pip & nut. A startup business from a lady that was brave enough to enter this competitive market, seized the opportunity and made this divine natural product omitting additives like sugar and palm oil we usually find in many mainstream peanut butter products. Our 2-year-old has been already addicted. Pip & nut is now part of his daily veg protein and omega fats intake:

Also worth visiting their web site, there are some quite niche recipes with peanut butter over there: https://www.pipandnut.com/blogs/recipes

 

Hand Blender: Absolutely necessary if you're into soups or other pureed produces (e.g. baby purees) for 2 main reasons: a) because it is easy and fast to use and ultra-easy to clean and b) you save kitchen mess up by not transferring the soup to a big blender and then back to the pan for serving. Hand blenders have a detachable mixer foot so all you have to do after use is rinse the foot under tap water. You don't even need detergent! Now the most important bit: never ever buy hand blender with a white plastic mixer foot. White plastic will get heavily coloured by the time and the more you use it with harsh veggies (like beetroot) or turmeric-based purees/soups. This Bosch is the ultimate tool at the best quality. If you are up for a more integrated tool with more functions (like a food chopper and a balloon whisker) it's worth checking out Tefal Optichef too.












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