Jet lag brings out the worst in me, and after 36 hours of travel to reach Paul in Cambodia, I was tipsy with sleep deprivation and drooping with hunger. Ignoring my desperate mutterings about going to sleep, Paul grabbed a moto driver and whisked us across town to Friends, a non-profit restaurant and job training center for at risk youth. I ordered half the menu in my hunger, and recall finding it all delicious with one exception...the pumpkin soup was outstanding! The flavor was deep with a warming blend of spices set off by a rich coconut and pumpkin base. I begged the cooks for the recipe, and they rattled off a long list of spices. I have been obsessively trying to recreate that soup for many years. This Cambodian Spiced Pumpkin Soup is a Westernized version that brings me back. The recipe base was inspired by Bon Appetit.
Yield: Serves 6 as a main
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
- 2 medium ripe bananas, chopped
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon ground clove
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon dried sage leaves
- 1 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1/2 teaspoon curry powder
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 2 bay leaves
- 5 cups low-salt chicken or vegetable broth (reduce salt in recipe if not using low salt broth)
- 1 (29 ounce) can pumpkin puree
- 2 (13.5 ounce) cans unsweetened coconut milk
- 1-2 teaspoons soy sauce or fish sauce (optional)
- fresh cilantro, yogurt, pumpkin seeds (optional garnish)
- Heat a large pot over medium high heat. Add butter, carrot, banana, onions and garlic. Reduce heat to medium and cook stirring frequently for 8-10 minutes, until onion is translucent and vegetables are soft.
- Add spices and salt (nutmeg, cumin, cloves, cinnamon, coriander, sage, allspice, curry, cayenne, salt) and cook for 1 minute until spices are fragrant.
- Add bay leaves, broth, pumpkin and coconut milk and bring to a boil.
- Once soup comes to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes.
- Puree soup until smooth. Adjust seasonings to your preference, we like to balance out the warming spices by adding 1-2 teaspoons soy sauce or fish sauce to the soup. This soup can be quite thick, adjust the texture by adding water, broth or yogurt to achieve your desired thickness.
- Serve warm with yogurt, cilantro, and pumpkin seeds.