This lemongrass pumpkin soup with coconut milk is super easy to whip up. You can make it on the stovetop or with a pressure cooker. With a few slices of crusty bread, this tasty and healthy vegan soup is great as an appetizer, light lunch or supper.
On my recent trip to Siem Reap, I discovered that lemongrass goes really well with pumpkin (and other similar winter squashes). I came up with this Western-style pumpkin soup using popular Southeast Asian ingredients after that trip. If you want an Asian style soup, I recommend this Vietnamese pumpkin soup recipe.
The soup is very delicious, creamy, naturally sweet and fragrant. Yes, the subtle fragrance from lemongrass and coconut milk is probably what I like the most about this pumpkin soup. People often say we eat with our eyes, but in my case, I eat with my nose :). I’m quite obsessed with infusing my food with pleasant aromas.
To make this yummy soup, you will need the following ingredients.
- Pumpkin: you can use any types of pumpkin (except the Halloween pumpkins 🙂 ), butternut squash or Asian squash like kabocha squash.
- Aromatics including lemongrass, garlic, and onions: they greatly enhance the flavors of the soup and also make it smell so good. Lemongrass is a common ingredient in Southeast Asian cooking. It can be used in marinades (such as in these Vietnamese grilled pork chops and grilled meatballs with noodles recipes) or in soups.
- Coconut milk (the canned type): it adds creaminess and smoothness as well as a light fragrance. With coconut milk, this pumpkin soup is dairy-free. You can find canned coconut milk at all Asian grocery stores, and at quite many Western grocery stores these days. I’ve been liking Aroy-D coconut milk lately.
- Seasonings: I use soy sauce, salt, and pepper. I find that soy sauce deepens the flavors of the soup. If you want to make the soup gluten-free, you can use tamari or just add more salt instead of using soy sauce.
After experimenting with a few batches, I’m very happy with the combination of these ingredients. I also add a small apple and think it rounds out the flavors, but it is optional. The soup also tastes more delicious with a squeeze of lime which brightens the dish in an interesting way.
How to Cook Lemongrass Pumpkin Soup with Coconut Milk
There are just a handful of easy steps involved to make this soup. Basically, you just need to peel and chop pumpkin into large chunks and then boil or pressure cook it with onion, garlic, and lemongrass until very soft. Then blend until smooth and add coconut milk and seasonings to taste.
After testing, I find that sautéing onion, garlic and lemongrass briefly before boiling/pressure cooking helps to bring out their flavors so much more, and subsequently helps all flavors to meld together in harmony. So if you are not short on time, please do this extra step for the best result :).
Whether you use the stovetop method or pressure cooking method with an electric pressure cooker such as an Instant Pot, this pumpkin soup is quick and easy to make. You can find detailed instructions in the recipe card below.
Lemongrass Pumpkin Soup with Coconut Milk (Pressure Cooker & Stovetop)
- 1.5 lb peeled pumpkin, cut into large chunks
- 1 small or half a medium/large onion, thinly sliced (about 2/3-3/4 cup sliced)
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 3 lemongrass stalks, slightly smashed, cut into 3-inch sections (white part only)
- small apple, peeled, core removed, cut into large chunks (optional)
- olive oil
- 1 3/4 cup water
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon soy sauce
- 1/3 cup coconut milk
- freshly cracked black pepper
- a few lime wedges (to serve)
- Prepare all ingredients: peel and cut pumpkin and apple (if using) into chunks, slice onion and mince garlic. Peel off the dry outer layer of lemongrass, cut off the green part, bruise/slightly smash the white part and cut into 3-inch sections.
- Place a pot over medium heat, add olive oil. Add onion and sauté until fragrant, then add lemongrass and minced garlic and sauté for a few more seconds until fragrant. If using an electric pressure cooker, you can sauté the aromatics in the inner pot with Sauté function.
- Add water and salt. If cooking on the stovetop, bring everything to a boil and then lower to a simmer, cover and cook until pumpkin is very tender (around 10-15 minutes). If using a pressure cooker, cook on High pressure for 3 minutes and then release pressure immediately.
- Discard the lemongrass sections. Blend until smooth with a regular blender or stick blender.
- Put the soup back on a very gentle simmer, add soy sauce. Then stir in coconut milk. Taste and adjust seasonings and thickness of the soup to your liking.
- Transfer soup to serving bowls. Sprinkle with a lot of black pepper. Serve hot with crusty bread and some lime wedges. Garnish with cilantro if desired.