This is one of the best soups I’ve ever had. Laksa is a kind of brothy noodle stew, very often made with chicken and coconut milk. When I was coming up with the idea for this soup, I was thinking of the Anglo-Indian mulligatawny soup, which is made from rice, curry sauce and minced meat. If you’re feeling a little bit theatrical, like I was, feel free to take the lid off the pumpkin, scoop out the flesh, and serve the soup in the pumpkin shell. Lovely!
PS If you have a Magimix food processor you can put it to good use for this recipe! If you don’t have one then your pestle and mortar will come in handy instead.
- 600g/1lb 6oz pumpkin, butternut squash, onion squash or acorn squash, halved, peeled and deseeded
- A small handful of lime leaves
- 2-3 chillies, deseeded and finely sliced
- 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely sliced
- 2 thumb-sized pieces of fresh ginger, peeled
- 3 sticks of lemongrass, outer leaves removed
- A large handful of fresh coriander (cilantro), leaves picked, stalks chopped
- 1 heaped teaspoon five-spice
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- Olive oil
- 1 white onion, peeled and finely sliced
- 565ml/1 pint chicken or vegetable stock
- 200g/7oz basmati rice
- 2 x 400ml/14oz tins of coconut milk
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Juice of 1 or 2 limes
- Optional: 1 fresh red chilli, sliced
- Optional: fresh coconut, grated
First of all you need to chop the pumpkin flesh into 5cm/2-inch pieces. To make your fragrant soup base, first chop, then whizz or bash up the following in your food processor or pestle and mortar until you have a pulpy mix: the lime leaves, chillies, garlic, ginger, lemongrass, coriander stalks, five-spice and cumin. Remove any stringy bits that may remain in the pulp. Put this fragrant mixture into a high-sided pan with a little oil and your finely sliced onion and cook gently for about 10 minutes to release the flavours.
Add the pumpkin and the stock to the pan. Stir around, scraping all the goodness off the bottom of the pan. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer with the lid on for about 15 minutes until the pumpkin is soft. At this point, add the rice and give it a really good stir. Some of the pumpkin will begin to mush up, but you’ll also have some chunks. Continue to simmer with the lid on until the rice is cooked, then off comes the lid. Add the coconut milk, stir again, taste and season carefully with salt and pepper. To give it a bit of sharpness add the lime juice – the amount will depend on how juicy your limes are, but the idea is to give the soup a little twang.
Nutritional information includes 1/8 teaspoon of added salt per serving, 1 teaspoon of olive oil, but does not include optional grated fresh coconut or fresh chili.