Thai-style pumpkin soup with cilantro/coriander pesto

Halloween is approaching, and we Aussies are newcomers to the traditions and parties that take place here in Vancouver on October 31. We just don’t celebrate it in a big way like it is in Canada and the US so it’s sure to be an eye opener.  The stores are in preparation stocking the shelves with decorative ornaments, costumes and loads and loads of candy! What I’ve never seen back home is all of these treats are manufactured and packaged into  a special Halloween size (mini snack size)…it’s full-on, seriously on another level!

Supermarkets are exploding with pumpkins, everywhere you turn there are bulbous orange objects of all shapes and sizes staring at you in the face.

I look forward to dressing up, I look forward to seeing my son ‘trick or treat’ and most of all participating in making or baking some Halloween goodies.

But one thing I do have experience with is eating pumpkin. I am used to cooking it in roast dinners; ‘Roast lamb with pumpkin and potato with gravy’ is a Sunday favourite back home and in wintertime many weeks may include pumpkin in risotto, soups, curries and stir-fries. Perhaps one of the most popular dishes that presents pumpkin a good light in the  fall here in Canada is pumpkin pie around Thanksgiving which I haven’t mastered yet!

It’s loaded with anti-oxidants; vitamins A, C and E as well as B complex group vitamins. What’s more is that the seeds which you can roast are an excellent source of fibre and minerals like iron, selenium and zinc. It’s a fairly sustainable food too with the flesh, seeds and sometimes skin all being used and eaten in recipes.

So for now, here is a warming recipe which was published in the July, 2005 issue of delicious. magazine (Aust. edition) adapted ever so slightly to my taste.

Thai-style pumpkin soup with coriander pesto

Ingredients

2 bunches of cilantro/coriander, roots trimmed (a few leaves reserved for garnish)

1/4 cup of walnuts

Zest and juice of one lemon

2 garlic cloves

1/3 cup (80ml) olive oil

1 onion chopped

2 teaspoons grated ginger

1 teaspoon cumin

1 Tablespoon Thai red curry paste

1 kg of butternut pumpkin (is best otherwise standard pumpkin), peeled and cut into small cubes

2 cups of vegetable stock (500 ml) vegetable stock

400 ml canned light coconut milk

Optional: Thinly sliced red onion and red chilli, to garnish.

Note: I used ground baked pumpkin seeds prepared while soup was cooking.

Method

1. To make the coriander pesto, process coriander, lemon zest, lemon juice and garlic in food processor. Slowly add 3 tablespoons of the oil to give a sauce consistency adding a little warm water if necessary. Add walnuts and process again and then season.

2. Heat the remaining tablespoon of oil in a large pan over a medium heat. Add onion and cumin stirring for 1 minute. Add ginger and red curry paste and stir for one minute. Add pumpkin and stock, bring to the boil, then simmer over a low heat for 15 minutes until pumpkin is cooked. Cool slightly and then blend until smooth.  Return to the pan, add the coconut milk and season and warm through.

3. To serve, place in soup bowls and swirl in a spoonful of pesto. Garnish with the ground roasted pumpkin seeds, reserved cilantro/coriander leaves and drizzle a little extra virgin olive oil.

Note: For a party, and a bit of a retro look you could serve soup in the pumpkin as shown.

Enjoy!

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