About a half mile from my home is a place called Restaurant BT. It is a true foodie delight! During my employed days & living in Tampa I could be found sitting at the bar at least once a week having a wonderful dinner. Personally I don’t think this town really appreciates or gets the uniqueness of BT’s cooking. Tampa is more of a Hooter’s or TGIF kind of dining town. I picture Restuarant BT being in some trendy NY neighborhood, open late with a local fan following. None the less, I do feel blessed that I have had the opportunity to dine here on more than one occasion. One of the first dishes I had was the vegetarian pumpkin soup. I remember thinking after the first bite, “Wow, now we’re talking.” My mother and I jotted down the ingredients and planned on replicating it back home. Let’s just say, that first attempt landed the whole batch in the garbage. It was so disgusting. Every time I went into Restaurant BT I would ask the waiter how the chef made it and ALWAYS got a different answer. My friend Lou begged me to find out how to make it and after a year of multiple attempts, ordering take out containers to go and dissecting every sip, I think I have come close. BT’s soup is what I call near perfection. So enjoy this one, but if you go there be sure to order the real deal. You won’t be disappointed!
Vietnamese Pumpkin Soup
2-3 tbsp olive oil
2 cups peeled and cubed pumpkin (see note)
2 cups peeled and cubed sweet potato
2 cups coconut milk (see note)
2 cups vegetable stock
1/2 cup Crimini mushrooms, sliced
3 shallots, minced
1/2 cup RAW peanuts, soaked in warm water
1 tsp. sugar (or more to taste)
Salt to taste
Fresh Cilantro leaves
(1) In a deep saucepan, heat olive oil to medium heat. Saute pumpkin and sweet potato until almost tender. Add shallots and cook for an additional 2 minutes.
(2) Add coconut milk and vegetable broth. Bring to a boil. Cook for about 10 minutes until pumpkin and sweet potato are cooked through.
(3) Add mushrooms. Reduce heat and simmer until mushrooms are cooked. Approximately another 10 minutes.
(4) Add raw soaked peanuts. Bring to a boil again, then remove from the heat.
(5) Season with salt and sugar to taste.
(6) Serve garnished with fresh cilantro leaves and fried shallots.
*Pumpkin is usually found in Asian markets. This is not the orange Thanksgiving Day pumpkin. The outside is usually light to dark green.
* In a cooking class I attended we sampled 8 different canned coconut milks. The best was Mae Ploy. It usually has about an 1″ of cream on the top, which is great for making curries.