Pumpkins are sprouting up all over Shanghai. They are in shopping bags and baskets. Overflowing in the stores. On every menu and even in drinks. I couldn’t be happier. Now if only I could find some to carve…
When I lived in Japan, my favorite seasonal beverage was a sparkling kabocha chuhai; a kabocha (Japanese winter squash) alcoholic drink that came in can – super classy. The kabocha variety was only available in fall and it was by far the best flavor. While I wish I could give you the recipe for that, instead I am offering a pumpkin peanut butter curry soup. It is plate scrapingly good and will leave you feeling totally satisfied.
Kabocha. Ginger. Potato. Peanut Butter. Garlic. Onion. Bell pepper. Chicken broth. Coconut milk. A little chili. Cilantro. A squirt of lime. All good things rolled into one. Simple to prepare and easy to eat.
I love biting into big pieces of kabocha and letting them melt in my mouth. If you also love flavor explosions, cut the kabocha into larger pieces and all other other vegetables into tiny ones.
Mashing the ginger will help spread its flavor throughout the soup. This is when mortar and pestle is necessary. We used to have a cork mortar and pestle (terrible, will definitely get a stone one next time). We found it in our apartment along with other odds and ends. (Most apartments in China are fully furnished so you never know what surprises you will inherit.) Since we moved we still haven’t gotten a new one. For this soup, I cut up the ginger as finely as I could, but crushing it is the best method.
This a perfect recipe to use your homemade chicken stock!
Pumpkin Peanut Butter Curry Soup
makes 5 servings
1 red onion, diced
1/2 head of garlic, diced
2 inch piece of ginger, as finely diced as possible (around 3 tablespoons)
1/2 of a kabocha, peeled and cut into chunks (about 4 cups)
1 large potato, peeled and chopped (about 2 cups)
1 green bell pepper, diced
4 red chilis, diced (if desired)
2 cups chicken stock
2 cups coconut milk
4 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
1 lime divided (half juiced, half cut into slices)
1 teaspoon curry powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 bunch of cilantro, chopped ( for garnish)
4 tablespoons chopped peanuts (for garnish)
Sauté onions, garlic and ginger for 5 minutes. Add kabocha, potato, bell pepper and chills. Sauté for 5 more minutes.
Add vegetables to a large pot with the chicken stock. Bring to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes. Add coconut milk, peanut butter, curry powder, cumin, salt and pepper. Simmer for at least 30 minutes. The longer the soup cooks the more flavorful it will be. (I imagine cooking this in a crockpot would be perfect.) When you are about to serve it, add the lime juice. Mix it well.
Serve with chopped peanuts, lime slices, cilantro and or diced chili.
*This recipe can easily be made vegetarian and vegan by substituting the chicken broth for vegetable broth.