Gluten-Free & Dairy-Free Thai Pumpkin Soup

Christmas this year has been wonderful. We all went to my sister Kate’s house and spent it there (huge thanks, Kate). We had a very traditional menu – smoked salmon, turkey with chestnut and pork stuffings, Christmas pudding and brandy custard –all delicious! And then we went ice skating at Hampton Court on Boxing Day. When we came back home, we had this gorgeous soup. Winter brings many treats, and pumpkins are definitely one of the best. If you want to enhance the flavours of this soup even further, simply roast the pumpkin chunks in an oven (at 180°C/350°F/Gas 4) for 20 minutes until slightly brown on the outside. This will bring out the deep, sweet flavours even more.

I served this in a pumpkin. I cut the top off one and scooped out the seeds and pulp. Then I roasted it in the oven at 180°C/350°F/Gas 4 for 40 minutes. This is longer than people normally suggest but I wanted the pumpkin to cook, so you could scoop it out to eat afterwards – and I was inspired by the way Kelly at The Spunky Coconut cooked her pumpkin whole in the oven. So I tried it and it was great!

When I made this, I also made a more toddler-friendly version of this for Zoe, simply by using less shrimp paste and fish sauce and omitting the chillies. She loves pumpkin, coconut milk and limes so this works well for her.

gluten-free, wheat-free, dairy-free, seed-free, soya-free, egg-free

Preparation time 15 minutes;  cooking time 20-25 minutes;  serves 4


  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 shallots, finely chopped
  • 1kg/2lb 4oz pumpkin, peeled, deseeded and chopped into bite-sized chunks
  • 400ml/14fl oz/scant 1⅔ cups coconut milk
  • 550ml/19fl oz/scant 2¼ cups gluten-, yeast- and dairy-free vegetable stock, or vegetable stock made from gluten-, yeast- and dairy-free stock powder
  • 2-3 tbsp fish sauce
  • juice of ½ lime
  • 1 handful chopped coriander leaves
  • 100g/3½oz peanuts, chopped (optional)

Red Curry Paste:

  • ½ tsp cumin seeds
  • ½ tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 lemongrass stalk
  • 2 large red chillies, deseeded and coarsely chopped
  • 1 shallot, chopped
  • 1cm/½in piece fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 tsp shrimp paste
  • 4 kaffir lime leaves, chopped
  • 1 small handful coarsely chopped coriander leaves and stems
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ tsp sesame oil
  1. To make the curry paste, heat a heavy-based frying pan over a low heat. Add the cumin seeds and coriander seeds and dry-fry for 2–3 minutes until they start to brown. Keep the seeds moving all the time so they do not burn.
  2. Remove from the heat and grind to a fine powder using a pestle and mortar or electric hand-held mini blender. Place in a liquidizer or food processor.
  3. Peel and coarsely chop the bottom half of the lemongrass stalks and add, along with chillies, shallots, ginger and garlic. Blend well. Add the shrimp paste, kaffir lime leaves, coriander and the oils, and blend to form a fairly smooth paste.
  4. Heat the oil in a large, heavy-based saucepan over a low heat. Add the shallots and cook for 2–3 minutes until just starting to turn golden brown.
  5. Stir in the curry paste and add the pumpkin, coconut milk and stock. Turn up the heat slightly and bring to a gentle boil, then turn the heat down, cover with a lid and leave to simmer for 10-15 minutes until the pumpkin is soft. Add the fish sauce to taste and the lime juice just at the end.
  6. Blend the mixture in the pan using an electric blender to make a smooth soup. Alternatively, blend the soup in a liquidizer or food processor, return to the pan and heat through. Pour into bowls, sprinkle with the coriander and peanuts, if you like, and serve.

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