Vietnamese Pumpkin Soup
Easy- You got this
Vietnamese pumpkin soup is a dish that takes me back to my childhood. When Japanese pumpkin is in season, you’ll find this on the dining table most weeknights in Vietnamese households. Unlike the buttery ‘pumpkin soup’ we all know so well in Australia, Vietnamese pumpkin soup is differentiated by its cooking technique, flavour, texture and the way it’s consumed.
The cooking technique involved in Vietnamese vegetable soups is unique when compared to how vegetable soups are usually made in Western cuisine—the vegetables are never blitzed, pulsed or pureed! Instead, they are kept in chunks to retain their texture so the vegetables must be able to keep their structure through the cooking process. For this reason, the Japanese pumpkin which is also known as the kent pumpkin, is a great choice as opposed to the popular butternut pumpkin.
Japanese pumpkin is sweeter in flavour and firm in texture making it an ideal candidate for slow simmering. This leaves you with a pumpkin soup that’s naturally flavoured with sweetness and moreish chunks of pumpkin that are soft but do not disintegrate. In this recipe, the addition of chicken stock,minced pork and prawns cuts through with a savoury umami flavour, rounding off the soup and making it a great accompaniment to steamed rice and other savoury dishes.
In Vietnamese households, a typical weeknight dinner usually consists of a mix of savoury dishes served with steamed rice, and soups are an essential piece of the weeknight dinner puzzle. They are strictly seasonal so you can expect pumpkin soups throughout the colder months and soups such as crab and asparagus, chinese cabbage and pork or chicken and corn during the warmer months. Vietnamese soups are consumed to start the meal and cleanse the palate between dishes. Personally I enjoyed portioning half my bowl of rice to indulge with the savoury and vegetable side dishes braised lemongrass chicken and stir fried kohlrabi before finishing off the meal by adding ladles of soup just to cover the remaining rice, adding chunks of pumpkin for good measure. Not one grain of rice would remain in the bowl.
Similar to how the Italian tradition of combining pasta with brodo (soup), Vietnamese food culture utilises the combination of rice and vegetable soups to not only nourish the family but also create a unique dining and sensory experience. If you haven’t tried ladles of rich soup with your rice and perfectly cooked pumpkin, do yourself a favour and make Vietnamese pumpkin soup to experience that authentic Vietnamese home cooked flavour.
½ Japanese pumpkin (1.2kg) peeled and roughly chopped into chunks
2L chicken stock or water
10g dried shrimp (optional)
1 ½ teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon sugar
½ bunch spring onion finely chopped (optional)
1/ bunch coriander finely chopped (optional)
1 clove garlic crushed (optional)
Pork and prawn mince
250g pork mince
300g uncooked prawns de-shelled and finely chopped.
½ teaspoon sea salt
½ teaspoon sugar
½ teaspoon cracked black pepper
2 tablespoons finely spiced spring onions
1 teaspoon oyster sauce (optional)
1 teaspoon sesame oil (optional)
If buying pre-packed pork mince (500g), use remaining mince to make my Vietnamese sizzling crepes- Banh Xeo
In a small bowl mix all pork and prawn mince ingredients with a spoon or spatula until well combined. Allow to marinate for 10 minutes.
In a large pot, bring 2L of stock, garlic and dried shrimp to the boil. Once boiling add pumpkin and bring to the boil again then simmer on low-medium for 10 mins.
After 10 mins, with a teaspoon add the pork and prawn mixture into the pot in small sized dumplings (ping pong ball size) and simmer for a further 15mins