Pumpkin: it’s not so bad

Thai pumpkin and noodle soup - with an egg

I didn’t like pumpkin until July 2007. I can pinpoint the month and year because that was when delicious. featured a recipe for pumpkin, sage and ricotta lasagne. For some reason I was drawn to it, despite having never wanted to eat pumpkin before. I made it and loved it, probably in no small part because of all the cheese, and I started to think maybe I was wrong about pumpkin; maybe it wasn’t disgusting. So I experimented with other pumpkin recipes. As long as the pumpkin is blended and mixed with other things, I like it. Big chunks of pumpkin still gross me out. They’re so squishy and kind of weirdly stringy… bleh.

Last winter I made pumpkin soup for the first time. My mum thought this was unfair – I’d refused to eat it when I lived at home, so she didn’t get to make it. But she did tell me that you could also put coconut milk or cream and coriander and chilli in it to make a Thai-flavoured pumpkin soup. And finally, three weeks ago when I planned to make pumpkin soup but didn’t want to go to the shops to buy cream and realised I had all the Thai stuff in the house, I decided to give it a try. I was pretty pleased with the results, but I decided it needed noodles. I also thought it would be good with soft boiled eggs and fried shallots. This was inspired by Alice Hart’s recipe for sambal telur in the June 2011 issue of delicious.

This is hardly authentic Thai – to start with, I used a jar of Thai curry paste. Also, I’m pretty sure sambal oelek is Indonesian, the eggs are from a Malaysian recipe, and soba noodles are Japanese… So I’m not quite sure what the best name for it is. It’s kind of a Thai(ish) curry-flavoured pumpkin and noodle soup with an egg. My boyfriend gave me two options for the name: ‘journey to the centre of ecstasy’ (he really likes this soup), or ‘soup egg noodle’. I think I’ll go with the second one, the first one is a lot to live up to.

Soup egg noodle
Serves 4

3 tomatoes
2 tbs vegetable or peanut oil
5 garlic cloves, finely diced
3 cm piece of ginger, finely diced
1 green chilli, chopped (with seeds)
1 brown onion, finely diced
1 tsp chopped coriander roots
1 kaffir lime leaf
1 tsp red curry paste
1 tsp sambal oelek (Indonesian chilli paste – leave this out if you don’t want it to be hot)
1 tsp tamarind paste
800 g Jap pumpkin, cut into chunks, skin removed
1.5 L vegetable stock
juice of half a lemon or juice of one lime
1 tbs brown sugar
2 tbs chopped coriander leaves (and Thai basil leaves if you have some)
270 ml coconut cream
180 g soba noodles
4 eggs
fried shallots, to serve

Cut a shallow cross in the base of the tomatoes (ideally it should just cut the skin). Place the tomatoes in a bowl and cover with boiling water. Let them sit for a couple of minutes, then pour out the hot water and replace it with cold water. Leave for a couple of minutes until cool. Carefully peel off the skins and cut the tomatoes into wedges.

Put oil, garlic, ginger, chilli, coriander roots, onion and kaffir lime leaf in a large pot over medium heat. Cook until onion starts to soften. Add curry paste, sambal oelek and tamarind. Stir for a minute, then add the tomatoes, pumpkin and stock. Simmer until pumpkin is really soft – about half an hour.

While the soup is simmering, cook the noodles and eggs. For the noodles, follow the instructions on the packet – usually this just means add them to boiling water for a few minutes then drain and rinse under cold water. Set aside.

To cook the eggs, put them in a small saucepan (that has a lid) and cover them with cold water and bring to the boil. As soon as the water has boiled, cover the pan with the lid and leave it to stand for 6 minutes. Pour out the hot water and fill the pan with cold water. When the eggs are cool enough for you to handle, carefully peel the shells off. Set the eggs aside with the noodles.

Add lemon or lime juice, sugar, coriander leaves and coconut cream to the soup and stir until combined. Remove the soup from the heat and blend until smooth.

To serve, divide noodles into four bowls (you might need to rinse them in cold water again if they’re stuck together). Place an egg on top of the noodles in each bowl, and then pour over the soup. Top with fried shallots.

2 responses to “Pumpkin: it’s not so bad

  • shan

    I became a very rich little kid with all the bribes my brother would offer up if I ate his pumpkin for him! Maybe he too can discover the joys of pumpkin, as you have… I’ve forwarded this post, but I am not holding my breath.

    • Jen

      The trick is to conceal the general icky-ness of pumpkin by blending it with lots of other flavours. I’m still not convinced it’s edible on its own.

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