A Warming Winter Soup of Pumpkin, Ginger & Lemongrass
Updated: Sep 7
The calmness of the bay and the wild unpredictable waters of the ocean can both be reached within minutes from our humble little weatherboard home. Ben and Beau quite often take off in the car bound for the back beach, only to return later with pockets full of sand, wind-swept hair and icy cold faces.
It was a few weeks ago now, before the second round of lockdown that we packed up our picnic basket, donned our thick coats and set up our lunch in the boot of the car. With a beach towel laid out and freshly baked potato and garlic bread sliced, we warmed our hands around mugs of piping hot soup poured from the thermos and huddled together watching the waves crash to the shore.
This is a recipe to soothe, comfort and nourish. And can be enjoyed in the comfort of your home, in front of the fire or huddled together in the boot of your car. I believe that picnics can be enjoyed in any season. Sometimes we just have to get a little creative...
Pumpkin, ginger and lemongrass soup
Makes quite a generous amount, perfect for freezing.
2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, sliced
2 garlic cloves, finely diced
5cm piece of ginger, finely diced
1 lemongrass stalk, white part only, finely sliced
4cm piece of fresh turmeric, finely diced (if you don't have fresh simply substitute with 1/2 tsp of ground)
3 kaffir lime leaves, finely sliced
2 tsp cumin seeds
2 tsp ground coriander
a pinch of ground cinnamon
1 tbsp ginger, lime jam (optional)
900g butternut pumpkin, skin removed and cut into 3cm chunks
150g carrots (about 2 large) cut into chunks
400g tin crushed tomatoes
Salt and black pepper
enough water or stock (vegetable or chicken) to cover (about 600ml)
400ml coconut milk
fish sauce to taste
the juice of 1 lemon or lime
toasted shredded coconut and pepitas to scatter over the top
In a large heavy-based pot, heat the oil and add the onion and a pinch of salt and cook over medium-low heat until softened. Add the garlic, ginger, lemongrass, turmeric, kaffir lime leaves, cumin, coriander, cinnamon and jam (if using) stir it all together and continue to cook for a couple of minutes until fragrant.
Tumble in the pumpkin and carrots and give it a good stir so that everything is beautifully coated. Pour in the tomatoes and then fill the can with a little water to swish around to get those last remaining bits of tomato out, pour this in too, followed by the water or stock, a pinch of salt and a few cracks of black pepper.
Bring this all to the boil and then reduce to a simmer, partly covered until the pumpkin is tender when pushed against with the back of a spoon. About 30-40 minutes should do it.
Take off the heat and using a stick blender or carefully ladling it into a blender, blitz it until lovely and smooth. Pop it back over the heat over a low flame, become mesmerised with the marble effect as you pour in the coconut milk. Add a few dashes of fish sauce as well as the juice of a lemon or lime. Taste and check the seasoning. You may need a little more fish sauce, or a little more pepper, you decide what tastes good.
Ladle into bowls and scatter over the toasted coconut and pepitas.