Laksa is a spicy noodle soup, popular in both Chinese and Malaysian cuisine. A good laksa broth is balanced by warm spices, spicy chili peppers, creamy coconut milk, fresh lemongrass, and a squeeze of lime juice. This version incorporates roasted butternut squash, making this noodle dish ideal for cold days.

Malaysian Butternut Squash Laksa [Vegan]

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Ingredients

For the Spice Blend: 

  • 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
  • 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground

For the Laksa:

  • Vegetable oil (neutral tasting)
  • 1 onion
  • 4-5 garlic cloves
  • 2 tablespoons fresh ginger
  • 1 lemongrass stalk
  • 2-3 small red chilis or one bigger (adjust amount to taste)
  • 3 dried kaffir lime leaves
  • 2 1/2 cups of vegetable broth, divided in half
  • Juice of one lime
  • 1 tablespoon tamarind paste (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce (or to taste)
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 10 1/2 ounces tofu
  • 3/4 cups full-fat coconut milk
  • Rice noodles/rice vermicelli

For Garnishing:

  • Chili slices
  • Fresh cilantro, torn
  • Scallion slices
  • Red onion, sliced thin half moons to
  • Lime wedges
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Preparation

  1. Preheat oven to 390°F. Peel, de-seed, and cube the squash. Set the squash cubes is a baking tray, drizzle with some oil, and roast for 20 minutes, or until soft.
  2. Peel and dice the onion. Mince ginger and garlic. Slice chilis. Mince the white part of the lemongrass and save the greenish stalk.
  3. Heat a heavy-bottomed saucepan without oil. Toast coriander, cumin, and fennel seeds are dry pan until fragrant. Transfer toasted spices to mortar and grind them to coarse powder. Add cayenne pepper, turmeric, and pepper, and mix spices together.
  4. Heat some oil in the saucepan. Add onions and fry until sautéed. Add garlic, ginger, half of the chili slices, minced lemongrass, and dry spice mixture. Fry for a couple of minutes. Add half of the vegetable broth, reserved lemongrass stalk and kaffir lime leaves. Simmer the broth for 10 minutes or until butternut squash is done.
  5. Take the saucepan off from the stove. Remove lemongrass stalk from the broth. Add about one-third of the roasted butternut squash cubes to saucepan. Puree soup with an immersion blender. Set the saucepan back to heat and add rest of the broth, lime juice, tamarind paste, soy sauce, brown sugar, and coconut milk. Adjust the taste. Add rest of the chili slices if desired. Add more broth if the soup seems too thick. Cube the tofu and add it, along with the remaining squash, to the soup.

To Garnish and Serve:

  1. Slice the red onion to thin half moons, chop the scallions, slice the chili, and cut the lime to wedges. Prepare rice noodles according to package instructions. Divide noodles to soup bowls and ladle some soup over them. Garnish with scallion, red onion, chili slices, and lots of fresh cilantro. Serve with lime wedges.
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