Pumpkin Peanut Curry Soup

Every autumn I have a craving for my pumpkin peanut curry soup.  I make it once or twice and then wait until pumpkins are in season the following year before making it again. Each time it comes out slightly differently depending on how much of this or that goes in it. Here’s what I did this time-

I roasted a locally grown pumpkin the size of a soccer ball at 375 for 30 minutes or so… I must admit, I totally lost track of time. I have NO idea how long that pumpkin was in there.  I’d say 30-40 minutes. I do know, however, that I cut it in half, seeded it (and saved the seeds to make Mexican Mole Roasted Pumpkin Seeds), covered the flesh in butter, and placed it cut side down into a pyrex baking dish with a cup or so of brandy.  I am sure of that part.

While the oven was preheating for the pumpkin, I toasted a cup or so of unsalted peanuts. Watch them! It’s really easy to over-toast (burn) nuts. Keep an eye on them and get them out of the oven when they’re starting to brown and smell like roasted peanuts.

But, before I even put the peanuts in the pre-heating oven, I had a thinly sliced sweet yellow onion sautéing on medium-low in some of the coconut fat skimmed from the top of an undisturbed can of coconut milk.  I let this start to caramelize while roasting the pumpkin. In the last 15 minutes or so I added a peeled, sliced apple.

So, when the peanuts were done, I put them in the Vita-Mix and made a little peanut butter.  Let’s all cheer for the power of that Vita-Mix. What a rockstar appliance. The next step is to blend all of the soft pumpkin flesh, onion, and apple with a can of coconut milk and a cup or so of water into the peanut butter.  Start on low, slowly turn it up to 10, then high, and then you’re ready to pour it into a pot and get it on the stove.

This is where the fun seasoning starts. I added a few tablespoons of soy sauce, Kecap Manis (called sweet soy sauce- it is palm sugar syrup, like molasses, but from palm), Vietnamese Sweet Lemongrass Curry (available at Savory Spice Shop), and some cayenne.  I let the soup simmer on medium for a while and added some thinly sliced kale that cooked down to be nice and tender after 20 minutes.

Just blogging about this now makes me want to eat another bowl. The creamy peanut-coconut combination is a nice compliment to pumpkin.  It brings me back to a small kitchen in Siem Reap, Cambodia, where I had my first pumpkin peanut curry soup.  Enjoy!


Peanut Noodles

I love making peanut sauce, and I especially like to make it in the summer when locally grown fresh veggies are available. Here’s one example of a peanut noodle dish.
I had some shiitake and oyster mushrooms from Hazel Dell.

I sliced them and sauteed them in a little butter and peanut oil with 1/2 of a yellow onion and some scallions.
While the mushrooms cook, boil some water for your noodles. I used a package of udon noodles and prepared them according to the instructions on the package. Pay attention to the instructions because over or under-cooked noodles do not make a great dish.
When the noodles are done, rinse them in cold water and drain well. Then transfer them to a large bowl and add the mushrooms as well as some other veggies. I added sliced carrots and blanched broccoli florets.
Pour on as much peanut sauce as you like and mix well.
Get creative with some seasonal veggies and enjoy.

Peanut Sauce

I love peanuts. Peanut butter. Peanut butter cookies. Roasted peanuts. Spicy peanuts. There is something about the flavor of peanuts that is very appealing to me and I am so very grateful I do not suffer from peanut allergies.
That said, I don’t eat many peanuts anymore because I mostly eat almonds. Almond butter, roasted almonds, etc. So, it is always a special treat when I decide to make peanut sauce for something like peanut noodles or Gado Gado, a traditional Indonesian vegetable salad covered in peanut sauce. Yum. That always brings me back to one of my favorite places on earth: Indonesia- the inspiration for this sauce.
So, here’s your warning: This isn’t really a quick sauce to prepare. You need to follow through with a few steps, but it is well worth the time and effort, I promise.
Step 1: Thinly slice 4 cloves of garlic and fry them with 3-5 dried Thai chilies (I always go with 5) in a couple tablespoons of peanut oil until the garlic is golden and toasted and the chilies are a little puffed.

Step 2: Remove these from the heat and oil to stop them from cooking. Let them cool on some paper towels while prepping the rest of the sauce.
In my kitchen, I have a step 3: Make peanut butter. I put 2 cups of peanuts in the Vita-Mix and make fresh peanut butter in about one minute’s time. If you don’t own a Vita-Mix yet, make sure you are using real peanut butter. Basically, that means please, please, please only use peanut butter if the the ingredients read: Peanuts. Or, Peanuts and Salt.
Step 4: In a bowl or large Pyrex measuring cup, add approximately 1 cup of peanut butter. Everything in this recipe is approximate, so you can play with the flavors and add more of something or less according to your tastes.
Next, add:
  • 5 TB soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • juice from 2 lemons
  • juice from 1/2 lime
  • 1/4 cup warm water (it is easier to mix with warm water rather than cold)
Mix this well.
Step 5: Grind your garlic and chilies in your mortar and pestle.

I have a special attachment to my mortar and pestle because I bought it in Indonesia.
Add the garlic and chilies to your sauce and mix well.
I made a big bowl of peanut noodles with this sauce. Too bad I didn’t double the recipe and store some in the fridge for a week or so. Next time.

Pumpkin Peanut Curry Soup

Soup-er easy. Especially if you already steamed a pumpkin and carved out the flesh. I am totally put-off by canned pumpkin, so I took the extra time to slice a pie pumpkin in half, scrape out the seeds, steam it for 30 minutes or until it is falling out of the skin, and finally remove the skin. I think that is the secret ingredient to this simple recipe.
  • 1/2 red onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • The cream from the top of 1 small can (5.46 oz) coconut milk, left undisturbed for at least 2 hours
  • 2 cups cooked fresh pumpkin
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup crunchy natural peanut butter
  • 2 TB soy sauce
  • 2 TB Vietnamese Sweet Lemon Curry Powder
  • 2 TB Kecap Manis (found in your local Asian food market)
  • 2 cups frozen spinach (fresh would be better if you have it- chopped)
  • a pinch or more of Cayenne pepper
In a sauce pan, heat half of the coconut creme on medium high and add the onions and garlic. Saute a few minutes before adding the pumpkin, coconut “milk” or “water” and 1/2 cup water. Heat this thoroughly and transfer to a food processor to puree the base with 1 more cup of water and make it smooth.
Next, pour it back into the pot, turn the burner to medium high again, and add the peanut butter, soy sauce, curry powder, and sweet soy sauce. When it is hot and the peanut butter is evenly distributed, add the spinach and cayenne. Bring the soup close to a boil, remove from heat, and serve. I served this with coconut basmati rice and peas.
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