Pumpkin, snake bean and bamboo soup with coconut

pumpkin, snake beans, shallots

The food and cooking of Indonesia and the Philippines, 160pp.
Ghillie Basan and Vilma Laus
Aquamarine, London, 2007
Cooking on page 32

The majority of this cookbook focuses on Indonesia, which is just as well because it is the cuisine I know better—haven’t been to the Philippines yet, but it’s on our travel list.

Indonesia is often described as the ‘jewelled necklace’ strung between Australia and the mainland of Southeast Asia. The country has the world’s sixth largest population and is made up of more than 13,500 islands—with about 1000 populated.

Every island has its own personality and its own cuisine.

We’ve loved the variety of Indonesian food ever since our first visit almost 10 years ago. On that trip we enjoyed dishes on the islands of Bali, Lombok, Komodo, Flores and Java.

Page 32 features a recipe from Java.

Pumpkin, bean and coconut soup

Pumpkin, snake bean and bamboo soup with coconut

30ml/2 tbsp palm, groundnut (peanut) or corn oil
150g/5oz pumpkin flesh
115g/4oz snake beans (yardlong beans)
220g(7 1/2oz can bamboo shoots, drained and rinsed
900ml/1 1/2 pints coconut milk
10–15ml/2–3tsp palm sugar
130g/4 1/2oz fresh coconut, shredded

For the spice paste
4 shallots, chopped
25g/1oz fresh root ginger, chopped
4 red chillies, seeded and chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
5ml/1 tsp coriander seeds
4 candlenuts, toasted and chopped

To serve
cooked rice
chilli sambal

pumpkin, snake beans, coconut milk chillies, ginger, garlic, palm sugar and bamboo shoots cooking Indonesian dish

To make the spice paste, using a mortar and pestle, grind all the ingredients together to form a smooth paste, or whiz them together in an electric blender or food processor.

Heat the oil in a wok or large, heavy pan, stir in the spice paste and fry until fragrant. Toss the pumpkin, snake beans and bamboo shoots in the paste and pour in t he coconut milk. Add the sugar and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and cook gently for 3–5 minutes, until the vegetables are tender.

Season the soup with salt to taste and stir in half the fresh coconut. Ladle the soup into individual warmed bowls, sprinkle with the remaining coconut and serve with bowls of cook rice to spoon the soup over and a chilli sambal. Serves four.

How it played out
Yet another recipe that I made mostly as written, using a butternut pumpkin/squash, and a food processor to grind the spice mixture.

The big challenge was finding snake beans. They’re usually widely available in Canberra. But there’s been some sort of weather catastrophe, so many bean varieties are expensive and hard to come by. This will pass, but I found a small bunch at the local market for $2.99.

My only change was to use just 800 grams of coconut milk. Our tinned versions of this ingredient come in 400ml tins, so I used two and didn’t bother to open a third to get the full 900mls.

Still very smug that I could use candlenuts that I bought in Indonesia on our most recent visit.


This made for a great vegetarian lunch on a wintry day in Australia. I didn’t expect the vegetables to become tender within 10 minutes, but they did.

The chillies—I used four—were home-grown by a friend.

An amazing vegetarian dish and one that I’ll be making often when beans come down in price.

Even though we’ve visited Indonesia a couple of times, I haven’t posted much about it yet on the blog. But here’s a fun account of one of our more challenging times.


About leggypeggy

Intrepid overland traveller, keen photographer, avid cook—known to jump out of airplanes and do other silly things. Do not act my age.
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18 Responses to Pumpkin, snake bean and bamboo soup with coconut

  1. Indonesia, its language, and its food should be compulsory teaching at our schools. We loved Java, Bali ,Lombok. If one bothers learning a bit of their language, which isn’t all that hard, you will be made welcome everywhere. We stayed again in Bali last year but well away from the beaches, bikinis, and resorts. Our favourite place is Ubud.
    The food is fabulous, but genuine Indonesian fare is also getting harder to obtain. They too seem to get lured by the McDonalds’ and KFC’s and eating in those places is becoming a status symbol of having economically ‘arrived’. A pity.
    The street stalls and food sold away from the main tourists areas are still the best. A genuine Indonesian dish is still something I always look forward to. Thank you, Peggy. Salamat makan.

  2. leggypeggy says:

    Oh gosh, we love Ubud too. My heart breaks a little bit every time an Australian town welcomes a McDonald’s or Hungry Jack’s. Hey, I suppose they have their place, but not for me.

  3. Peggy, this sounds absolutely amazing ! I was fascinated by the ‘snake bean’ (yard long bean) we just call them green beans here and they are long 🙂 Also, the candlenut I am sure I could substitute that with maybe another nut like macadamia….This is going to be a great soup, dying to try this, thanks so much for sharing.

    • leggypeggy says:

      Thanks Lynne. This is an amazingly delicious dish, and I think green beans and macadamia nuts would be great substitutes. Please do let me know how a replication goes.

  4. dishdessert says:

    looks delicious, good recipe, I liked…

  5. Yummers for the Summer!

  6. elmotoo says:

    Yum! Could I use ‘regular’ green beans or perhaps the long beans at the Asian supermarket are the same as snake beans? Off to Google candlenuts!

  7. Sheryl says:

    I never would have thought of this combination of vegetables and coconut, but it sounds absolutely incredible. I’m going to have to give it a try. I’ll probably make the green bean substitution that others mentioned.

  8. qudur says:

    Indonesian’s food so very delicious, trust me! .. #yummy

  9. so glad that you love indonesia! i write down about indonesian (mostly traditional) food in here andietafoodjourney.wordpress.com but i guess, you would LOVE barobbo (one of indonesian traditional porridge) https://andietafoodjourney.wordpress.com/2016/09/03/barobbo-bubur-khas-sulawesi-selatan/

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