Yellow Curry Pumpkin Rice Soup
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We love a cozy French onion soup or loaded potato chowder just as much as the next foodie. But the vegan yellow curry pumpkin rice soup from Nik Sharma’s new cookbook, Veg-Table: Recipes, Techniques + Plant Science for Big Flavored, Vegetable-Focused Meals, proves that soup can be comforting without the help of beef broth, bacon or any animal products at all.
“I like soups that are hearty with plenty of texture, but also full of vibrant colors and flavor,” writes Sharma. “The turmeric in the yellow curry paste, the bright orange flesh of winter squash, the dark purple grains of forbidden rice and the bright green of microgreens all make this a beautiful sight to behold.”
That said, the ingredients are flexible. You can add or substitute carrots, potatoes and sweet potatoes if you feel so inclined, or swap in white or brown rice for forbidden. You can also use whatever Thai curry paste you have on hand, but Sharma recommends the brand Mekhala.
Veg-Table: Recipes, Techniques + Plant Science for Big Flavored, Vegetable-Focused Meals by Nik Sharma. © 2023. Published by Chronicle Books. Photographs by Nik Sharma.
2 pounds (910g) sugar pie pumpkin or kabocha squash
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 teaspoon fine sea salt, plus more to taste
10 to 12 dried shiitake mushrooms (about 1 ounce)
2 tablespoons yellow curry paste
1 garlic clove, chopped
2 tablespoons peeled, grated fresh ginger
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 cup (150g) cooked black or forbidden rice
Microgreens, such as arugula or radish, for serving
1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet or roasting pan with foil.
2. Cut the pumpkin in half crosswise and remove the seeds. Place it on the prepared baking sheet and brush the cut side of the pumpkin with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Roast until the pumpkin is tender, 35 to 45 minutes, rotating the sheet halfway through cooking. The flesh should turn golden brown and be easily pierced by a knife or skewer. Remove it from the oven to rest until the pumpkin is cool enough to handle. Separate the flesh from the skin.
3. While the pumpkin roasts, in a medium heatproof bowl, steep the mushrooms in 2 cups of hot water for 30 minutes. The liquid will turn dark brown. Squeeze the mushrooms to extract as much liquid as possible and discard. Reserve the steeped liquid.
4. In a medium saucepan, warm the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add the yellow curry paste and garlic. Sauté, stirring constantly, until the paste is fragrant and starts to stick to the bottom of the saucepan, about 2 minutes. Stir in the steeped mushroom liquid (be careful of splattering) and the cooked pumpkin. Remove from the heat.
5. Using an immersion blender, pulse the mixture until smooth and velvety. You should have about 3 cups. Add enough water to bring the final volume up to 7 cups. The soup can also be prepared using a blender or food processor, working in batches as needed.
6. Return the blended soup to the stove over medium-high heat. Stir in the ginger and lime juice. Fold in the rice. Taste and season with salt. Serve hot or warm, topping each bowl with microgreens. Leftover soup can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to three days.