Pumpkin in Coconut Milk

This image courtesy of Marty Snortum

Editor's Note: Here is a wonderful exotic soup recipe that you can serve as a starter for a more Asian-themed dinner event. Pumpkin in Coconut Milk is an interesting but simple recipe, containing flavors from Thai culture. This soup remains popular in Thailand. The nice thing here is it is so simple to prepare. Besides the two main ingredients, you simply add in some fish sauce, onions, ginger, turmeric, sugar, and a couple of other things and you are good to go. If you are a lover of all things pumpkin you are guaranteed to love this delicious soup. 

A simple but striking dish from the south, where coconuts abound, the colors are vibrant and the flavor is rich and exotic. Traditionally prepared with the greenish-skinned cooking pumpkins seen at the markets around the area, and sometimes with sweet potatoes added as well, they can be substituted with acorn or butternut squash. This dish is usually served as a side dish at a meal containing a variety of selections. Be careful not to overcook the pumpkin-you want it tender, but it will disintegrate if cooked too long past that stage.



Total Timeunder 1 hour

Recipe CourseSide Dish

Dietary ConsiderationKosher


Taste and TextureCreamy, Savory, Spiced, Sweet, Umami

Type of DishVegetable


  • 1½ cups unsweetened coconut milk, or 1 (13-ounce) can
  • ¾ cup water
  • 1½ teaspoons sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon dry turmeric
  • 2 teaspoons fish or soy sauce
  • 1 (1½-inch) piece ginger, peeled and cut into 3 slices
  • ½ medium white onion, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 (1½-2-pound) pumpkin, skin and seeds removed, then cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro or Vietnamese coriander


  1. In a saucepan, mix the coconut milk and water; add the sugar, salt, turmeric, and fish sauce; stir well to combine. Add the ginger, onion, and pumpkin, and bring to a low boil; stir gently and reduce the heat to simmer.

  2. Cook for about 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally. Check to see if the pumpkin is tender and cook a few more minutes or as needed (add a bit more water if the sauce gets too dry). Remove from the heat, remove the ginger, and let sit a few minutes to thicken the sauce. Garnish with cilantro and serve.


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