Ginger-Lemongrass Coconut Soup with Pumpkin & Sweet Potato

Well, that was a descriptive title.

When I lived in Durham, I stumbled upon a fabulous cooking school that regularly offered 3/$100 specials on their cooking classes (of course, this was also 2004-2005!). Needless to say, I took full advantage of this, even after my first experience involved a mandoline, some blood, a fainting spell, and quite a bit of embarrassment on my part.

Besides just accumulating a nice collection of delicious “show off” recipes, the classes really helped me gain comfort in the kitchen. I learned the concept of mise en place, although it’s taken nearly a decade for me to more regularly implement it, and they gave me exposure to new techniques and skills. Being able to learn even one new thing opened up a whole world of opportunity and got rid of some of the fear around French technique terms and complex recipes: I realized it didn’t have to be perfect to be good, and if you take the time to read through your recipe before beginning, you can generally map out a plan that will get you to your destination!

The recipe below is a soup from one of my favorite classes, “Lemongrass and Ginger.” I had half of a pie pumpkin leftover so I substituted it for some of the sweet potato. We served this with a rotisserie chicken and sauteed spinach with ginger and garlic.

Ginger-Lemongrass Coconut Soup with Pumpkin & Sweet Potato
Adapted from Chez Bay Gourmet Cooking School
Serves 4

  • 1/2 pie pumpkin, peeled and cubed
  • 2 medium sweet potatoes [if you aren’t using pumpkin, use 3 sweet potatoes, or try butternut squash!]
  • 1 T. coconut oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2-inch piece ginger root, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 2 T. lemongrass, thinly sliced
  • 1 T. red curry paste
  • 3 c. chicken stock
  • 15 oz. coconut milk
  • juice of 2 large lemons (or limes)
  • ~1/2 T. fish sauce (or salt to taste)
  • sesame oil
  • handful of cilantro leaves
  • black sesame seeds

Note: You can do the first step a day or two before.

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place pumpkin cubes in a baking pan with a little oil and cover with foil. Place sweet potatoes on a tray. Bake until tender. Remove and let cool. When cool, remove skin from sweet potatoes and cut into ~1″ chunks. Set aside.
  2. Heat oil in a dutch oven over medium heat. Saute the onion, ginger, and lemongrass until translucent. Stir in the curry paste and cook for 1 minute. Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and continue to cook for about 5 minutes.
  3. Add the coconut milk. Add the sweet potatoes, pumpkin, and/or butternut squash to the soup and stir to combine. Bring back to a simmer and let simmer for 5 minutes.
  4. Add lemon juice and fish sauce (try tasting before you add it all in to see how much you think it needs). Taste and adjust for balance, if necessary. Ladle into bowls. Prior to serving, drizzle with sesame oil and sprinkle with sesame seeds and cilantro. Enjoy!
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