Although this recipe has many typical Thai ingredients, it is not a Thai soup, but a fusion dish invented by western cooks.
You won’t find that creamy type of soups in Thai cuisine, and if anyone adds pumpkin to coconut milk, it’ll be for a sweet dessert (faktong kaeng buad), not a spicy soup.
For a vegan/vegetarian version, simply substitute the fish sauce with salt, and make sure the curry paste does not contain shrimp paste.
The ginger, the lemon grass and the garlic in this recipe have to be finely ground. Use a pestle and a mortar or a spice grinder. You can also slice those spices finely, and grind them with the rest of the soup before serving, or just discard them.
The amount of curry paste you’re using will determine the spiciness of the dish. Use 1 spoon for a mild taste, or 2 spoons for a spicier version. If you cannot handle the heat, use sweet chili paste (Nam prik pao – here’s a nice recipe, but you can also buy ready made paste) instead of the curry paste.
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 2 stalks of lemon grass (only the white part), finely sliced
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped ginger
- 1 tablespoons chopped garlic
- 1-2 tablespoons Thai red curry paste
- 400 ml coconut milk
- ½ kg pumpkin
- 2 cups water
- 5-6 tablespoons fish sauce (for vegetarians: salt to taste)
- 1-2 tablespoons brown (or palm) sugar
- 2-3 tablespoons lime or lemon juice
- 3-4 drops kaffir lime oil 5%
- 5-6 finely sliced shallots or 1 white onion, deep fried until brown and crispy
- Oil for deep frying
- Whole (fresh or dried) Thai chilies (prik ki nu)
If you’re using dried chillies for garnish, deep fry them for a few seconds, drain and set aside.
In the same oil, fry the shallots (or onion) until they are brown and crispy. Be patient and keep frying until the shallots are truly crispy and completely loose their softness. It makes a big difference.
Drain and set aside.
Peel the pumpkin and cut into large wedges.
Boil 2 cups of water, add the pumpkin and cook until it softens.
Mash the pumpkin and keep 1.5 cups of the cooking water for later.
Heat 3 tablespoons of oil in a large pot, add the lemon grass, garlic and ginger and fry for 4-5 minutes.
Add the red curry paste, mix well and fry for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. If you’re using sweet chili paste, turn to low heat, stir for 1-2 minutes and make sure it’s not burned.
Add the mashed pumpkin and mix well.
Add the fish sauce (or salt) and mix.
Add the coconut milk, bring to a boil, add the pumpkin cooking water and bring to a boil.
Simmer for 5-7 minutes.
At this point you can either turn off the heat and grind the soup in a blender, or just strain it, or leave it as is if you want a rustic texture.
After grinding/straining pour the soup back to the pot and boil again.
Add the sugar and the lime juice, taste and adjust the seasoning, then turn off the heat.
Wait for 2 minutes, add 2-3 drops of kaffir lime oil and mix well.
Serve with fried shallots and whole chilies on top.