Thai red curry and roasted pumpkin are a match made in heaven. Warm spices compliment sweet fresh pumpkin for a hearty, comforting soup.
This soup is a fun twist on the common puréed pumpkin soups you’ll find. Don’t get me wrong, I love a creamy pumpkin soup as much as the next soup sipper. But we wanted to do something different for this plant based recipe.
First, we decided to use a coconut milk base. And that got us thinking about curries and other dishes that typically feature coconut. Eventually, we decided to combine these delicous dishes into curried pumpkin soup.
And while we love the soup itself, we agreed that the puréed base could use a little crunch. That’s were the crispy tofu topper came on the scene. Cubes of perfectly crispy, well seasoned tofu are like little gluten free and vegan croutons on top of this thai curry soup.
However, if you’re not vegan or vegetarian, or just not a tofu fan, you’ve got other protein options. This thai curry pumpkin soup makes a delicous base to shredded chicken, a soft boiled egg, or crispy roasted chickpeas.
Honestly, though, even our meat-eating family members enjoyed the crispy tofu. Maybe you can get everyone on board for a meatless Monday! For a heartier meal, you can also serve with white rice or rice noodles.
Using Fresh Pumpkin for Soup
Fresh roasted pumpkin is the star of this soup. It’s such much more flavorful than store-bought pumpkin purée and it’s easy to prepare.
Here’s how to work with a whole fresh pumpkin:
- Remove the stem.
- Cut the squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds with a large spoon. You can reserve the seeds and roast them for a yummy snack that reduces food waste.
- Drizzle each half of pumpkin with a bit of olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
- Roast in a 375°F oven for about 30 minutes, until you can easily pierce the pumpkin with a fork.
- Remove them from the oven and let the pumpkins cool a bit.
For this soup recipe, we tranfer the cooked pumpkin to a blender to purée. It’s best to do this in batches, as hot food can explode in the blender!
If you don’t have a blender, you can easily mash the pumpkin in a large bowl until smooth. Or, if an immersion blender is more your thing, go for it!
You can freeze any leftover pumpkin purée for future use in a reusable silicone bag.
Or, you can just make this Vegan Pumpkin Mac and Cheese the next day!
Making Puréed Red Curry Pumpkin Soup
Once the cooked pumpkin in nice and smooth, it’s time to build this soup.
First, soften up your aromatics. We use onion, garlic, ginger, chile peppers and Thai red curry paste. Mekhala makes certified gluten free and vegan red curry paste that’s available on Amazon. Be aware that many other brands include fish sauce in their curry pastes, if you’re a strict vegan or vegetarian.
All of those Thai flavors get mixed with the pumpkin, coconut milk, vegetable stock and lime juice for a soupy consistency. Be sure to choose full fat coconut milk for this thai red curry pumpkin soup. The lite stuff doesn’t have nearly as much body and taste.
The final flavor must-haves for this Thai red curry pumpkin soup might come as a surprise.
First: peanut butter. Creamy peanut butter provides body, flavor and protein to this hearty vegan soup recipe.
Cayenne pepper adds an extra hit of spice. If you’re not a fan of spice, feel free to leave this out. And either way, be sure to taste the soup before adding spice, as your red curry paste may be hotter than ours.
And finally, fresh lemongrass stalks compliment the Thai flavors in this soup. Lemongrass is tart, bright and refreshing. Remember to remove the stalks before serving! And if you can’t find fresh lemongrass near you, look for lemongrass paste. You can use a couple teaspoons to replace the fresh stalks.
How to Make Crispy Tofu
To top this creamy Thai red curry pumpkin soup, make some crispy tofu cubes. This recipe is only four ingredients, including salt and pepper.
And really, the only key is to get your tofu as dry as possible. If you have time, maybe while the soup is simmering, press the tofu between sheets of paper towels.
To do this, gently wrap the tofu in several layers of paper towels. Place it on a plate or cutting board with a weight on top. This can be a heavy cast iron skillet, or another plate with something heavy on top. The goal is to press out as much moisture from the tofu as possible. You can let this sit for a while, up to 30 minutes.
Then, simply cut your tofu into bite-sized cubes. Dust them in a bit of gluten free flour for extra crispiness. And finally, cook them up in a hot (emphasis on hot!) pan. To test that the oil in your pan is hot enough, add a small piece of tofu. If it’s not sizzling right away, it needs a little more time.
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For a more filling meal, serve this soup with crispy tofu and rice noodles or rice.
- 2 tbsp sesame oil (or vegetable oil)
- 2 cups diced yellow onion
- 5 cloves minced garlic
- 1 1/2 tbsp fresh grated ginger
- 2 dried Thai chili peppers, crushed
- 2 tbsp vegan & gluten free Thai red curry paste
- 4 cups roasted fresh pumpkin, mashed (sugar or pie pumpkins work well – alternatively, you can use Kuri or Kabocha squash)
- 4 cups vegetable stock
- 2 1/2 cups full fat coconut milk
- 1 small lime, juiced
- 2 tbsp peanut butter
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp cayenne
- 2 4-inch stalks of lemongrass, cut in half
- 14 oz extra firm tofu, drained and patted dry with paper towel
- 3 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 tbsp gluten free all purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp pepper
- Preheat oven to 375 F.
- Wash pumpkins well. Remove tops (with stem), slice in half and scoop out the seeds. Place flesh side up on a sheet pan, brush with a bit of olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast until fork tender – about 20-22 minutes. Once cool, scoop flesh out and mash in bowl or purée in a blender or with an immersion blender.
- Meanwhile, heat sesame oil in large stock pot over medium heat. Add onions and sauté 7-10 minutes, stirring frequently. Add minced garlic, crushed Thai chili peppers and ginger and cook 3-4 more minutes.
- Add curry paste, mashed pumpkin, broth, coconut milk, lime juice, peanut butter, salt, and cayenne. Stir well and add both lemongrass stalks.
- Cover and let simmer for 40-45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove lemongrass stalks and puree using immersion blender or heat resistant high speed blender.
- Serve with rice noodles (optional), garnish with a drizzle of coconut milk, crispy tofu (recipe below), chopped peanuts, and cilantro.
- Drain tofu and pat dry with paper towel. If you have the time, wrap tofu in a few sheets of paper towel, place a book or heavy object on top and let drain for 30 minutes-1 hour to remove as much moisture as possible.
- Slice tofu into bite-sized cubes, then transfer to a plastic bag or bowl. Add flour, salt, and pepper and shake bag to coat tofu evenly.
- Heat oil in a large sauté pan to medium high. Add tofu and let cook on each side (without stirring) for about 3 minutes or until golden brown and crispy. Cook on all sides, or until most pieces are completely crispy. Remove from heat and enjoy!
Pumpkin can be substituted for squash if you desire – we’ve made it both ways and it’s still delicious. Kabocha squash works especially well!