Malaysian Spiced Pumpkin & Coconut Soup

Chef Mike McEnearney proves just how delicious eating healthily can be. In his latest book, Real Food by Mike, he presents seasonal recipes based around the idea of the physic garden, in which plants are grown and used for their health benefits.  Delicious, simple to make and full of things that are good for you, try this Malaysian Spiced Pumpkin and Coconut Soup for a comforting summertime meal.

“This soup is good for using up any left-over roast pumpkin. If using cooked pumpkin, add it to the pan at the end, simmer for a moment to combine the flavours, then serve. Another serving suggestion is to add a dollop of coconut yoghurt to cool your palate. All the ingredients are readily available in most supermarkets.”

Serves 4

  • 400 ml (131⁄2 fl oz) coconut milk
  • 1 scud chilli, chopped
  • 1 long red chilli, halved (seeded if you want it milder)
  • 1 lemongrass stem, pale part only, bruised
  • 1 kaffir lime leaf, thinly sliced
  • 12 g (1⁄4 oz) galangal, peeled and sliced
  • 1 tablespoon palm sugar (jaggery)
  • 50 ml (13⁄4 fl oz) fish sauce
  • 40 g (11⁄2 oz) chilli paste
  • 800 g (1 lb 12 oz) pumpkin
  • (squash), diced into large chunks
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1⁄2 bunch coriander (cilantro), leaves picked


In a large heavy-based saucepan over medium heat, warm the coconut milk. Add the chillies, lemongrass, kaffir lime leaf and galangal and simmer for 2 minutes until very aromatic.

Add the palm sugar, fish sauce and chilli paste and simmer until the palm sugar has dissolved. Add the pumpkin and simmer for about 30 minutes or until tender. Remove from the heat and add the lime juice to taste (it will balance the flavours). The soup should first taste hot, then sour and then sweet from the pumpkin and coconut.

Finish with a healthy scattering of coriander and serve.


Pumpkin is rich in vitamin A and beta-carotene, both essential for good vision. Coconut milk is not only high in a saturated fatty acid called lauric acid, which increases the levels of ‘good’ cholesterol in the blood, but it also contains B complex vitamins and potassium. Chilli is loaded with vitamins C and A, the latter useful for protecting from the free radicals that are generated when you’re stressed or sick. Chilli also has decent amounts of vitamin B6, which can prevent plaque build-up in the arteries. Coriander contains antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds and is rich in vitamins A, C and K.



Real Food by Mike: Seasonal Wholefood Recipes for Wellbeing by Mike McEnearney (Hardie Grant, £20). Photography © Alan Benson

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