Pumpkin purée and coconut milk join a parade of Asian aromatics like lemongrass, ginger and chiles to create this unusual soup's subtle yet clear flavors.
This soup is easy to make and can even be made up to 3 days in advance. Reheat gently before serving.
coconut milk (14 oz, not "light")
pumpkin purée (15 oz)
stalks lemongrass (finely chopped, see tip below)
chopped and peeled fresh ginger
fresh lime juice
sweet chili sauce (or to taste)
chopped fresh jalapeño or Serrano chile (without seeds or ribs, or to taste)
Remove 2 tablespoons of the coconut cream on the top of the can of milk and set aside for garnish.
Place the remaining coconut milk in a large saucepan and add the pumpkin purée, lemongrass and ginger. Bring the soup to a simmer over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally.
Stir in the lime juice, sweet chili sauce and the jalapeño. Simmer, covered, for 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and pass the soup through a fine-mesh sieve set over a clean bowl; discard the solids.
Return the soup to the saucepan and reheat gently. Season with salt to taste. If the soup is too thick, thin with a bit of water. Serve hot, garnishing each portion with a drizzle of the reserved coconut cream.
Chef's Tip: Working with Lemongrass
Lemongrass is a staple of many Asian cuisines; it’s used like an herb to add a subtle, aromatic, lemon-like flavor without the bite of citrus. It’s generally available in most well-stocked supermarkets, specialty food stores and Asian markets. Sold in individual stalks that are long, pale green and reed-like, only the inner core of the lower 5 inches of the stalks is usable. To prepare lemongrass, cut off and discard the root end and the reedy top, leaving about 5 inches of usable stalk. Peel and discard the outer 3 layers of leaves, or as many as necessary to reach the pale, soft inner core. Then finely slice the stalk or crush it with the side of a cleaver.
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