Those of you who used to make artichoke and watercress soup and things like that in the 1960s for your dinner parties will have no difficulty in creating this sophisticated, tangy little number.

Ingredients

  • 450 g (1 lb) pumpkin, peeled and cut into 2.5 cm (1 pint) cubes
  • juice of ½ lemon
  • 100 g (4 oz) uncooked prawns, peeled with back vein removed for how to do this
  • 1 large onion, roughly chopped
  • ½ teaspoon shrimp paste – or use anchovy paste
  • 2 red chilli peppers, seeded (optional)
  • 1 blade of lemon grass, bruised and roughly chopped
  • 750 ml ( pints) coconut milk
  • 300 ml (10 fl oz) Gold water
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 1 teaspoon caster sugar
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • salt
  • handful of fresh basil leaves, chopped

Method

Sprinkle the pumpkin with the lemon juice and let it stand for 15–20 minutes. Put the prawns, onion, shrimp or anchovy paste, chillies, lemon grass and a couple of tablespoons of cold water into a food processor or blender and switch on for 15–20 seconds to make a smooth paste.

Skim off the thick coconut cream from the top of the coconut milk and save for later. Put the coconut milk and water into a large pan and stir in the blended paste, fish sauce, sugar and black pepper. Bring to the boil, stirring, then reduce the heat and add the pumpkin. Cover and simmer gently for about 20 minutes, or until the pumpkin is tender. Check the seasoning, adding a touch more black pepper, salt or fish sauce if necessary. Stir in the basil leaves and reserved coconut cream and ladle into serving bowls.

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