Shrimp, Pumpkin and Coconut Soup

Shrimp, Pumpkin and Coconut Soup

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1/2 of a 2-3 lb cheese pumpkin (or a whole small kabocha squash)
2 garlic cloves, crushed
4 shallots, finely choped
1/2 tsp shrimp paste
1 lemongrass stalk, trimmed and roughly chopped
1 jalapeno, seeded
1 tbsp dried shrimp, soaked for 10 minutes in warm water to soften
3 cups chicken stock
14 oz. can coconut milk
2 tbsp fish sauce
2 tsp coconut sugar
4 oz small cooked shelled shrimp
1 lime, cut into wedges (for garnish)
1 Thai chili, thinly sliced (for garnish)
10-12 Thai basil leaves (for garnish)


Peel the pumpkin and cut in half.  Scoop out the seeds with a spoon and discard.  Cut the pumpkin into 1-inch chunks and set aside.

Put the garlic, shallots, shrimp paste, lemongrass, chili and salt in a mini food processor.  Drain the liquid from the from the dried shrimp and discard.  Add rehydrated shrimp to the mini food processor.  Grind the mixture into a paste.

Heat a large pot over medium heat.  Add vegetable oil.  Once the oil is warm, add spice paste to the pot.  Toast the spice paste until aromatic, about 1-2 minutes.  Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil, stirring until the spice paste has dissolved.  Add the pumpkin chunks and reduce heat to simmer.  Simmer until the pumpkin is tender, about 15 minutes.  Stir in coconut milk.  Once the soup returns to a simmer, season with fish sauce, coconut sugar and ground black pepper to taste. 

Add cooked shrimp and continue simmering until shrimp are heated through, about 1-2 minutes.  Serve soup with lime wedges, Thai chili and basil.