Malay squash chowder recipe


Perhaps ‘chowder’ is a stretch here, but there aren’t many other nouns that immediately conjure that sense of warmth and richness that a singular bowl of this soup can bring. I have left out the shrimp paste (used heavily in traditional Malaysian cooking) to keep it vegan, but you can add it in, if you like. In lieu of it, tamarind and miso pastes help to deepen the flavour.

  • Yield: 4 Servings


  • 2 cups (500 ml) vegetable stock
  • 14 oz (1 x 400 g) can coconut milk, plus 4 Tbsp thick coconut cream from the top of another can
  • 2 tsp tamarind paste
  • 21 oz (600 g) peeled and diced butternut squash
  • 1 Tbsp cornflour [cornstarch]
  • ½ Tbsp gula melaka (coconut palm sugar) or dark muscovado sugar
  • 1 Tbsp white miso paste
  • sea salt
  • coriander [cilantro] leaves, to serve
For the Spice Paste
  • 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1¼ in (3 cm) piece of fresh galangal, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 2 lemon grass stalks, roughly sliced
  • ¾ in (2 cm) piece of fresh turmeric, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • ¾ in (2 cm) piece of fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 3 echalion shallots, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1–2 dried chillies, roughly chopped
How to Make It
  1. Start by making the spice paste. Blend all the ingredients together in a mini chopper or small bowl of a food processor until you have a smooth paste.
  2. Tip the paste into a large saucepan and cook over low heat for about 3 minutes, until it starts to smell lovely and aromatic. Add the stock, coconut milk and cream, tamarind paste and butternut cubes and increase the heat to medium. Pop a lid on the pan and bring the liquid to the boil, then lower the heat so that the mixture is simmering and leave it to bubble away for a good 30–35 minutes until the butternut is really soft and tender.
  3. Mix the cornflour with a small splash of water and stir until dissolved, then add this to the soup along with the gula melaka and miso paste. Stir in and continue to cook gently for a couple more minutes until the soup has thickened slightly, then season to taste with salt.
  4. Ladle the soup into warmed bowls and serve topped with fresh coriander leaves.

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