Pumpkin Rice Laksa Soup

This recipe comes from a book I was gifted years ago, called Jamie’s Dinners, by Jamie Oliver, published in 2004.

I didn’t realize that Jamie Oliver started cooking at his parents’ pub, The Cricketers, in Clavering, Essex, at the age of eight. At the time the above book was published, he was running his own restaurant, and had his own tv show called Jamie’s Kitchen.

From my memory, Jamie Oliver has come in and out of favor with folks. Maybe he spread himself too thinly? I have eaten at only one of his restaurants, in Oxford, called Jamie’s Italian. There was a giant pasta extruder that made pasta as you watched. It was really fascinating!

In 2019, 22 of his 25 restaurants closed, revealing the collapse of his restaurant empire. I would bet he bit off more than he could chew, but he’s still passionate about food and cooking, especially Italian cuisine, and to this day he’s very involved in childrens’ charities, which is quite admirable.

Jamie’s Dinners is a good cookbook, especially for a novice cook. It’s all about home cooking – no fancy ingredients or techniques required. This soup is excellent – tasty and hearty. It’s just not very pretty.

According to Chef Oliver: “This is one of the best soups I’ve ever had. Laksa is a kind of broth noodle stew, very often made with chicken and coconut milk. when I was coming up with the idea for this soup, I was thinking of the Anglo-Indian mulligatawny soup, which is made from rice, curry sauce, and ground meat.”

I truly didn’t want to cut up a pumpkin or butternut squash so I used one 14 ounce can of pumpkin purée, and used two 10 ounce packages of frozen chopped butternut squash! That way, I got some chunky parts in the soup. Below is his original recipe.

Pumpkin Rice Laksa Soup
Printable recipe below

1 pound 6 ounce pumpkin or butternut squash, halved, peeled, deseeded
Small handful of lime leaves
2-3 chillies, deseeded and finely sliced
2 cloves garlic, peeled, finely sliced
2 thumb-sized pieces of fresh ginger, peeled
3 sticks of lemongrass, outer leaves removed
Large handful of fresh cilantro, chopped
1 heaping teaspoon five-spice powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
Olive oil
1 white onion, peeled, finely sliced
2 1/2 cups chicken stock
1 cup basmati rice
2 – 14 ounce cans coconut milk
Sea salt
Black pepper
Juice of 1 or 2 limes
Cilantro leaves
1 fresh red chili, sliced, optional
Fresh grated coconut, optional

Chop the pumpkin flesh into 2” pieces.

In a small food processor, process the lime leaves, chillies, garlic, ginger, lemongrass, cilantro, five-spice powder, and cumin. Put this mixture into a high sided pan with a little oil and the finely sliced onion and cook gently for about 10 minutes.

I didn’t have lemongrass, so I used a teaspoon of panang curry. Lemongrass is the second ingredient following chile peppers.

Add the pumpkin and stock to the pan. Stir, scraping all of the goodness off the bottom. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer with the lid on for about 15 minutes until the pumpkin is soft.

Add the rice and give it a really good stir. Some of the pumpkin will begin to mush up, but you’ll also have some chunks. Continue to simmer with the lid on until the rice is cooked, then remove the lid.

Add the coconut milk, stir again, taste and season with salt and pepper.

Add the lime juice – the amount will depend on how juicy your limes are, but the idea is to give the soup a little twang. Serve the soup in warmed bowls.

Finish with cilantro leaves, and add some extra sliced fresh chili and/or fresh coconut.

I served the soup with some naan. It was a great addition to this stewy soup.


By Published On: November 2nd, 202249 Comments on Pumpkin Rice Laksa Soup

About the Author: Chef Mimi

As a self-taught home cook, with many years in the culinary profession, I am passionate about all things food-related. Especially eating!


  1. Bernadette November 2, 2022 at 6:20 AM - Reply

    Another great review and I appreciate your shortcuts.

    • Chef Mimi November 2, 2022 at 9:04 AM - Reply

      Thanks, Bernadette!

  2. David @ Spiced November 2, 2022 at 6:54 AM - Reply

    22 of his 25 restaurants closed in one year? Yikes. This recipe sounds fantastic, though. And the idea of using canned pumpkin combined with frozen squash is a GREAT idea. Cutting and roasting an actual pumpkin is so much more work. I love how this soup has so many layers of flavor, too. Thanks, Mimi! (P.S. That photo of Jamie Oliver on the book cover looks like a teenager who just rolled out of bed…haha.)

    • Chef Mimi November 2, 2022 at 8:43 AM - Reply

      Right. Well, you know, he’s British!!! (So is my son in law so I should watch what I say!) When my thumbs went bad the last thing I could do was peel and chop a squash, so that’s when I discovered the frozen. It’s a godsend!

  3. angiesrecipes November 2, 2022 at 7:50 AM - Reply

    That looks like a perfectly warming and tasty fall meal!

    • Chef Mimi November 2, 2022 at 8:41 AM - Reply

      Interesting ingredients, but great flavors!

  4. David Scott Allen November 2, 2022 at 9:10 AM - Reply

    I was thinking how hard it would be for you to peel a butternut squash. My thumbs are fine and I still find it hard! I love the flavors in this soup — really comforting. I have always really liked his manner in the kitchen — it’s very simple, honest, and definitely not fancy. I appreciate that. And I firmly believe the term bedhead was created just for him. I will be making this soup soon — thanks, Mimi!

    • David Scott Allen November 2, 2022 at 9:13 AM - Reply

      PS – what did you do for the lime leaves? We have a lime tree but I never thought about using the leaves, and am not sure this is what he had in mind.

    • Chef Mimi November 2, 2022 at 10:22 AM - Reply

      Hahahahahaha! I love it – bedhead!!! It’s too bad he got too big for his britches. He seems to be very charitable, and is nice family man. I know – butternut squash is a pain, isn’t it?! And it’s slimy! For the lime leaves, I used two fresh leaves off of my kaffir lime tree! Not sure what was intended – I’m not well versed in Thai cooking.

      • David Scott Allen November 2, 2022 at 11:08 AM

        Omg — that’s a big “duh” on my part. Of course he meant kaffir lime leaves. I’m an idiot. Thankful they are readily available here.

        Yeah — I love his work with children. I think he’s a good guy.

      • Chef Mimi November 2, 2022 at 3:04 PM

        I think so too. Maybe a bad businessman, or had agents who pushed him into too many directions.

  5. Judy November 2, 2022 at 2:11 PM - Reply

    I love him and his enthusiasm when he cooks.

    • Chef Mimi November 2, 2022 at 3:04 PM - Reply

      Yes, I agree! Like a little kid.

  6. Debra November 2, 2022 at 7:43 PM - Reply

    I have little firsthand experience with Jamie Oliver’s restaurants or even cookbooks, but I have admired the work he’s done in trying to infiltrate school menus with healthy options for students. Talk about an uphill climb! This soup definitely calls to me, Mimi. I can’t wait to try it!

    • Chef Mimi November 3, 2022 at 9:33 AM - Reply

      Uphill climb indeed! But he’s done impressive work.

  7. Tandy | Lavender and Lime November 2, 2022 at 10:54 PM - Reply

    I have nearly all of his books and have eaten at Fifteen in London. What I most admire is his work to get children fed healthier school meals. His recipes are great and easy to follow and like this one, super tasty.

    • Chef Mimi November 3, 2022 at 9:32 AM - Reply

      Definitely. His charity work is impressive.

  8. Sherry M November 2, 2022 at 11:37 PM - Reply

    this sounds delicious mimi with all those wonderful flavours. I think lime leaves here would be kaffir/makrut lime leaves tho when I checked Jamie’s website, his recipe does not include lime leaves at all!

    • Chef Mimi November 3, 2022 at 9:32 AM - Reply

      I used kaffir off of my tree, and it has since died. Perhaps it didn’t like me pulling off leaves! This recipe was from his book – who knows that happens in translation!

  9. StefanGourmet November 3, 2022 at 1:39 AM - Reply

    This is basically how most people I know make pumpkin soup, except for the rice. Jamie Oliver became so popular in part because he was some sort of sex symbol at the time. I did use his cookbooks around 20 years ago, but when I got more knowledgeable about cooking I realized he used too many ingredients (especially compared to original Italian dishes). He did fix this later on, but by then I had moved on. I think he is a better chef than businessman. I love the work he does getting children to eat healthy and vegetables.

    • Chef Mimi November 3, 2022 at 9:10 AM - Reply

      I think you just summed him up! He was either a bad business man or had representatives who were way too greedy and took advantage of his personality. I had no idea he was a sex symbol!

      • StefanGourmet November 3, 2022 at 12:03 PM

        His first TV show that made him famous was actually called The Naked Chef. He was not actually naked in the show.

      • Chef Mimi November 4, 2022 at 8:47 AM

        Right, but I thought the naked name referred to his food being “clean.” Who knows?!

  10. Pauline McNee November 3, 2022 at 5:58 AM - Reply

    I’ve cooked and eaten lots of his meals and really enjoyed them, and he really has done lots of good work for kids diets.i also ate at one of his Italian restaurants in Cambridge in England, a fabulous experience. I love his enthusiasm. This dish looks delicious Mimi.

    • Chef Mimi November 3, 2022 at 9:01 AM - Reply

      Yes, he’s got that little kid spirit about him! It must have been that same Italian restaurant that I ate at – it was a chain. But very good!

  11. Ann Coleman November 3, 2022 at 5:25 PM - Reply

    I love soup, and that one looks good and not too difficult, especially if I used the canned pumpkin and frozen squash. Thanks!!

    • Chef Mimi November 4, 2022 at 8:47 AM - Reply

      You are so welcome! Lots of ingredients, but very easy!

  12. nancyc November 3, 2022 at 9:23 PM - Reply

    I love thick and creamy soups like this—it looks so delicious!

    • Chef Mimi November 4, 2022 at 8:46 AM - Reply

      I was actually surprised at how really good it was!

  13. neil@neilshealthymeals.com November 4, 2022 at 1:22 AM - Reply

    I forgot I have that Jamie’s Dinners book too! Thanks Mimi. Yeah, speaking as a British person his Italian restaurants were nothing special and there was too much competition in that area so unfortunately not a surprise they went under.

    • Chef Mimi November 4, 2022 at 8:46 AM - Reply

      It’s too bad. I think he must have been poorly managed.

  14. 2pots2cook November 4, 2022 at 4:02 AM - Reply

    This looks great! How many people you can feed with this batch? It’s just we’re going to spend several days in the mountains and my “duty” is to bring along a pot with comforting soup so it may be great surprise…

    • Chef Mimi November 4, 2022 at 8:45 AM - Reply

      Oh, I would say a dozen! that would be a perfect soup.

  15. Velva Knapp November 5, 2022 at 1:35 PM - Reply

    This looks amazing! I am a fan of Jaime Oliver but like many of the chefs in the Food Network age -Young chefs spread themselves to thin and opened many restaurants. Oh, but this soup. I would really enjoy it, no doubt, I think the canned pumpkin is ideal. I can often find cut-up butternut squash in my produce section.

    Thanks for sharing with us!!

    • Chef Mimi November 5, 2022 at 2:47 PM - Reply

      Oh, lucky you! That would be so convenient and better than frozen. I think the young chefs were eager, but they had greedy representatives.

  16. Gerlinde November 5, 2022 at 10:25 PM - Reply

    He looks good and I admire his work with children but I never cooked any of his recipes. The pumpkin soup looks interesting. The men in my family cut the squash or pumpkin.

    • Chef Mimi November 6, 2022 at 8:10 AM - Reply

      Huh. I’ll have to tell my husband!!!

  17. Frank Fariello November 6, 2022 at 7:37 AM - Reply

    I didn’t know Jamie’s career went *that* far back. He first hit my radar screen back in his Naked Chef days. I really liked his approach to food back then. I know he can be a controversial figure but I don’t follow the UK food scene closely enough (well, honestly, not at all) so I’m rather hazy on why. Many Italians have fixed feelings about him, flattered by his love of the cuisine but put off by the liberties he takes with some traditional dishes. But a lot of the work he does, for example of kids’ nutrition, sound very admirable to me.

    • Chef Mimi November 6, 2022 at 8:10 AM - Reply

      You really summed him up! I’m so sick of the Italian food police. Always have been. Not every recipe needs to be authentic, unless it’s supposed to be, like what you present on your blog. If I want to put cheese on fish and it’s wonderful, I’ll put it out there!

  18. Liz November 6, 2022 at 4:01 PM - Reply

    Ooh, so flavorful and a perfect fall soup! Probably too exotic for my meat and potatoes husband, but it would be great for my lunch when it gets chilly :)

    • Chef Mimi November 6, 2022 at 4:45 PM - Reply

      Yes, I’ve got one of those too. Didn’t even bother having him taste it! But he’s definitely improved over the years!

  19. Healthy World Cuisine November 8, 2022 at 9:34 AM - Reply

    Just what we are craving on this brisk autumn day. We use the same brand of curry pastes as you do. We have the red and green curry paste but need to look for Penang curry paste next time we are at the market.

    • Chef Mimi November 8, 2022 at 10:37 AM - Reply

      I really love the red the most. But this was really good too I!

  20. Thao @ In Good Flavor November 13, 2022 at 8:08 PM - Reply

    I didn’t know his business suffered so badly. I love watching Jamie his shows and his style of cooking. This soup sounds so fragrant and aromatic. It has such great depth of flavor.

    • Chef Mimi November 14, 2022 at 5:09 AM - Reply

      I’m sure he had agents, or whatever they’re called in the culinary world, who knew he was popular and just stretched him too thinly.

  21. Anonymous November 13, 2022 at 8:24 PM - Reply

    I don’t know much about Jamie Oliver but I LOVE this type of meal. I had something last night at a Japanese restaurant that seems a bit reminiscent of this, only udon noodles instead of the rice. So hearty, rich and delicious! :-) ~Valentina

    • Chef Mimi November 14, 2022 at 5:09 AM - Reply

      And I really love udon, so I bet that was really good!

  22. Raymund November 16, 2022 at 8:58 PM - Reply

    Wow all of those flavours are good, I can devour a whole bowl of this and after that wiping out those leftovers with a nice crusty bread. Yum

    • Chef Mimi November 17, 2022 at 6:14 AM - Reply

      It was a very tasty soup! Lots of flavors that worked well together!

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