Soups with anything but a broth base are a rarity in Chinese and Japanese households, but corn soups and pumpkin soups—favored Western imports—are the exception. (And any orange-fleshed squash might be called a "pumpkin.") Here, food editor Lillian Chou combines the two and gives them a boost of bracing freshness with lemongrass and cilantro; the result is velvety and light.

Active time: 30 min Start to finish: 45 min

Servings: Makes 8 servings


1 fresh lemongrass stalk, root end trimmed and 1 or 2 outer layers discarded
1 large onion, chopped
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 3/4 pounds kabocha or butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1-inch pieces (4 cups)
2 1/2 cups fresh or frozen corn kernels (10 ounces; from 2 to 3 ears)
5 cups water

Garnish: cilantro leaves


Cut off and discard top of lemongrass, leaving a 6-inch stalk, then smash stalk with side of a large heavy knife.

Cook lemongrass, onion, and 1 teaspoon salt in butter and oil in a heavy medium pot over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until onion is softened, about 10 minutes. Add squash, corn, water, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and bring to a boil over high heat.

Reduce heat and simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, until squash is tender, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and discard lemongrass.

Purée soup in 3 or 4 batches in a blender until very smooth (use caution when blending hot liquids), straining each batch as blended through a fine-mesh sieve into a large heatproof bowl, pressing hard on and then discarding solids. Season with salt and pepper and reheat if necessary.

Cooks' note: Soup can be made 2 days ahead and chilled, uncovered, until cool, then covered. Reheat over medium heat, stirring occasionally.

Nutritional Information

Per serving: 133 calories, 7g fat (2g saturated), 8mg cholesterol, 445mg sodium, 3g fiber, 2g protein (nutritional analysis provided by Nutrition Data)


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