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Thai Pumpkin Soup

The pumpkin soup with stuffed shells

Red Curry Paste: You can make this yourself or use store bought. I find store bought really good, but you decide. Red is strangely enough milder than Green, but do be careful, as they are both hot. Should you have “over-spiced”, a good trick is to add another can of coconut milk - it helps to reduce the heat.

Stock: Some pumpkins contain more liquid than others, so I tend to go easy on the stock till after I've pureed the soup. You want to have lots of pumpkin flavor not stock flavor. Some people add just water, but I find stock better, but again, you decide.

Stuffed Pasta Shells: I like to serve this soup as a starter for guests in winter and I think that the stuffed pasta shells add a more elegant touch to the soup. The soup is great without the pasta and the pasta is great without the soup, so you deci...!

Coconut powder: I can get this easily where I live, but should you not be able to find it, just leave it out. It adds more coconut flavor and does thicken the soup slightly – another can of coconut milk (which is much easier to find) adds as much flavor, but thins the soup, so go easy on the stock if using more coconut milk.

Fish sauce: This smells absolutely awful and most people that smell don't want it anywhere near their food! However, it's a massive flavor enhancer and I highly recommend you use it. A bottle will last for years which is good as one uses very little of it. It smells like rotten fish and adds a slightly salty note to the dish.

The pumpkin soup with stuffed shells
(Serves 6-8)

1 tbsp vegetable oil
2 onions, roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 thumb size piece ginger, peeled, grated/ chopped
1 tbsp red curry paste
1-2 kg pumpkin, peeled, seeded, cubed
500ml /2 cups chicken stock
1 can coconut milk
1 pkt coconut powder (optional)
1 tbsp soya sauce
1 tsp fish sauce

STUFFED PASTA SHELLS (optional)
250g / ½ pkt large pasta shells
250g fromage blanc/cream cheese/quark
1 bunch chives, chopped
Maggi
Salt, pepper, paprika
12 crab sticks, chopped

METHOD:
1. Saute the onion till softened, about 5minutes. Add the garlic and ginger and sweat for a few minutes. Add the curry paste and heat for a minute to allow the flavors to be released.
2. Add the pumpkin and stock, put the lid on, bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer till soft, about 20-30 minutes.
3. Add the coconut milk and simmer gently to heat through. Puree the mix – I use a hand blender, but you can use a food processor – till smooth.
4. Have a taste and see if it needs more coconut flavor, and then add or leave out the coconut powder. Add soya sauce and fish sauce to taste. Also, if you feel it is too thick, add more stock. Serve with or without the Stuffed Pasta Shells.
5. STUFFED SHELLS: Cook the pasta as per the package instructions. Mix the cheese,chives and spices and then fold in the chopped crab sticks. Stuff the mix gently into the shells and place one or two shells into each bowl of soup.

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