There is one type of soup that makes me think of autumn and that is pumpkin curry. It has become a favourite since we moved to Sweden. In Sweden seasons are pretty intense and autumns are chilly and full of pretty-coloured leaves. This soup is heart-warming and has a wonderful orange tone. Really – So. Much. Autumn. I like to call it my autumn soup. No point arguing that curry is not a very Swedish flavour, as Sweden is that kind of country where it’s pretty easy to get in touch with many different cuisines. So yes, curry is a thing in Sweden. So is vegan cooking. My autumn soup, this pumpkin curry ode to the Swedish autumn is also vegan. I just love it.
The inspiration for this soup came from a work lunch with the University bloggers I help coordinate. We dined at a buffet that offers both Swedish and world-inspired foods (told ya. So easy to try different cuisines in Sweden). After filling my plate with a bunch of delicious stuff (I wanted to sample everything that was on the menu that day) I noticed that my friends had also a plate with some hot soup on their trays. I had missed that, so I went back and plated myself some soup. I’m happy I did, because it was labelled as “coconut pumpkin” soup and it was delicious. I felt so inspired that a few days later I decided to try to recreate it in my kitchen and this is how this soup happened.
This pumpkin curry autumn soup is as velvety as a blended soup is supposed to be. Butternut squash and sweet potato are the stars and give the autumn soup a blissful texture. Curry powder is that little twist that makes everything interestingly tasty and coconut milk pairs up so well with curry you just wouldn’t think of any other cream to thin (or thicken) it. Yes, no actual pumpkin in this pumpkin curry soup. The flavour is given by a close relative, the butternut squash, combined with sweet potato.
The day I decided to recreate this autumn soup I had a butternut squash at home. I had bought with the intention of making butternut squash soup, so I decided that that little friend would be the pumpkin in my version of the soup instead. To make the taste even more interesting and add both sweetness and texture, I picked a sweet potato. I figured that the combination of butternut squash and sweet potato would work as well as a regular pumpkin so used those two in my soup. If you can do that in “pumpkin” pie, why not in pumpkin soup? (Yes I’m a baad cheater.)
Pumpkin curry soup recipe
- 1 butternut squash
- 1 sweet potato
- 2 medium potatoes
- 2 tsp mild curry powder
- 400 ml coconut milk (1 can)
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- salt to taste
Peel and seed the squash, then dice it. I like to start with it because it takes more time, so then it feels lighter to only have to take care of the potatoes. Next, peel and dice the potatoes and the sweet potato. Set a large pot on medium heat and warm up 2 tbsp of olive oil. Add the diced vegetables, sprinkle 2 tsp of curry powder over them and sauté them keeping the heat on medium. I really like cooking with curry powder and the one I used in this recipe comes from a spice farm in the charming little island of Zanzibar when we visited in July (click here for some fine Zanzibar eating instead).
In the meantime, bring a pot of water to the boil, or set the kettle on. You will need to add water to the vegetables and I always prefer to add it hot. Always keep an eye on the vegetables and move them around so that they will not stick to the bottom of the pot. When the water boils, add it to the vegetables. You want to add enough water to cover all the diced veggies, not more. Depending on the size of the pot this quantity will vary. I like to add it hot so that the temperature in the pot does not drop abruptly and the vegetables can keep cooking. Add some salt, lower the heat, cover the pot and let simmer for about half an hour.
After half an hour return to the pot and check the vegetables. They should have become all soft enough to mash – test them by pressing them to the sides of the pot with a fork. If soft enough, remove from the stove and blend with a hand blender until creamy. As much of the water will have evaporated, your soup will probably look more like a mash right now. Return the pot to the stove on minimum heat and add the coconut milk – both the solid fat and the watery part. Stir until the solid part has melted, then remove from the heat. Taste before serving and add more salt if needed. It is really hard to estimate the quantity of salt needed in this soup as most depends on the size of the squash and the sweet potato, but also on how sweet the coconut milk used is, so tasting will always be the best choice. I always end up having to add more salt than expected.
Vegan dessert, too? Coconut cardamom panna cotta with agar-agar!
The yield of this soup is quite generous and should feed 4-5 people. I think it is also worth making it for one, though, as it can be frozen in small portions and eaten later. The use of coconut milk gives this soup a nice exotic flavour that finely blends with the curry powder. I personally prefer mild curry, but for a spicier soup a blend of mild and hot curry powders works wonders.
I generally thin my soups with cream, but substituting cream with coconut milk actually made my soup vegan. This has become my go-to dinner to make when our vegan friend visits. Did I recreate the same recipe I had tried at the buffet restaurant? Kind of, but the outcome was equally delicious and just perfect for a cozy autumn evening meal among friends.