cosy pumpkin laksa soup
Instead of carving your pumpkin into scary heads this year, why not scoop out the flesh and make this treat for Halloween – or any other day for that matter.
Serves 2
spice paste
2 plump lemongrass stalks
5 garlic cloves
2cm knob of fresh turmeric (or 1½ tsp dried)
thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger
1 red chilli, deseeded
small handful of coriander stems
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp coriander seeds
a little olive oil
1 white onion
1 dried red chilli
~500g pumpkin; peeled, deseeded, and cut into 5cm pieces – if you are scooping out, they’ll be no need to chop.
~500ml chicken stock
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 tablespoon tamarind concentrate
sea salt and black pepper
lime juice
handful French beans
1 free-range egg
soy sauce
coriander leaves
mint leaves
In a dry pan , heat the seeds until aromatic then grind in a pestle and mortar. In a food processor – or the same mortar; place the minced garlic, grated ginger, sliced chilli, and chopped lemongrass (white bulbous bits only. It is important to discard the outer leaves of the lemongrass and to chop the bulb fairly finely – this reduces the length of the fibres. Process – or pound with a pestle – all the spice paste ingredients to form a pulp.
Heat the oil in a large pan before adding the diced onion and the broken up dried chilli. Cook gently for five minutes, then add the spice paste and continue to cook for a further 5 minutes. Add the pumpkin and stock to the pan, and bring to a simmer. Stir in the fish sauce and tamarind. Cook for 15 minutes until the pumpkin is soft.
Meanwhile, boil your egg for 5½  minutes (~50g egg) to give a soft yolk. Peel the egg – under a cold running tap and leave in a small cup marinate in the soy sauce. Boil the beans for 2 minutes and refresh in cold water.
Once cook, you can use a potato masher to break up the pumpkin if you like – I like this soup rustic. Season to taste.
Spoon the soup into your scooped out pumpkin – or bowl if you couldn’t stop yourself from carving a scary face. Garnish and finish with a squeeze of lime juice – to brighten the flavours.

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