Thai Coconut and Pumpkin Soup
400 g pumpkin, cut into 2 cm cubes.
1 tablespoon lemon or lime juice
100 g green prawns or dried shrimp (soak the dried shrimp in hot water first)
2 medium size onions
1/4 tsp. shrimp paste
2 fresh chilies, seeded
1 tablespoon finely chopped lemongrass
300 mL water
3 cups (750 mL) coconut milk
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 tsp. pepper
80 g (handful) fresh basil leaves, reserving some for garnish.
Sprinkle pumpkin with lemon juice and let it stand for about 20 minutes. Shell and de-vein the prawns. In a food processor, combine prawns, onions, shrimp paste, chilies, lemongrass and a little water and blend to a smooth paste. Combine 300 mL water with thin coconut milk in a large saucepan and stir in the paste, fish sauce, sugar, and pepper. Bring to the boil then reduce heat and stir with a wooden spoon to keep it smooth. Stirring is important to stop it curdling.
Add pumpkin and simmer very gently for about 20 minutes until the pumpkin is tender. Taste and check out the seasoning now. Just before serving, stir in the basil leaves and the reserved thick coconut cream. Garnish with a sprinkle of basil leaves and ground black pepper.