Zanzibar Pumpkin and Coconut Soup

This recipe is from a book called Zanzibar Kitchen and is a favourite of mine. This soup reminds me very much of Zanzibar actually, the deep flavours, the spices, the coconut milk...I can just about smell the spices surrounding the spice forests which grow vanilla, cocoa, lemon grass, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and much more. It is like Spice-Disneyland for food enthusiasts such as myself! This soup is the perfect family soup because it is mild and packed with nutrition and vitamins yet the fussiest children will most definitely not notice the pumpkin. Serve with nice bread and you will have everybody smiling at the dinner table.

Note that you will need at least 300 grams pumpkin (which will yield in 200 grams cooked pumpkin). You can also buy tinned pumpkin puree (just make sure it is organic).

Note also that you will need a food processor or a blender/hand blender for this recipe.

The bowl seen in the photo I bought in a small market in Stone Town, Zanzibar

This recipe is:

  • Egg free
  • Gluten free
  • Nut free

This recipe is easy to make:

  • Lactose (dairy) free

Zanzibar Pumpkin and Coconut Soup

Serves 4


  • 200 grams (7 oz) cooked pumpkin or squash (you can also used tinned pumpkin puree)
  • 1 small onion, chopped coarsely
  • 1 small piece fresh ginger (similar to a grape in size), chopped very finely
  • 650 millilitres (21¾ fluid oz) water
  • 375 millilitres (12¾ fluid oz) skimmed milk or regular milk
  • A dash tabasco sauce (omit if soup is intended for small children)
  • 2 yeast free vegetable stock cubes
  • 2 teaspoons coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon salt (Himalaya or sea salt)
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • 250 millilitres (8¾ fluid oz) coconut milk
  • A pinch of saffron threads (optional)



  1. If you haven't prepared the pumpkin beforehand (or bought tinned pumpkin) then peel, deseed, chop and boil 300 grams pumpkin for 20 minutes. Place in a sieve on a big bowl, press lightly on the pumpkin and allow excess water to run off. Set pumpkin aside and discard water.
  2. Peel the onion and chop coarsely.
  3. Peel the ginger (you can do this with a spoon as the skin is thin) and grate or chop very finely.
  4. Add to the saucepan: 200 grams prepared pumpkin, 650 millilitres water, 250 millilitres coconut milk, 375 millilitres skimmed milk, a dash tabasco sauce, 1 teaspoon lemon juice, 2 vegetable stock cubes, grated ginger, ½ teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon cinnamon, ¼ teaspoon ground cloves.
  5. Turn the heat up and allow to simmer for 10 minutes.
  6. Add 250 millilitres coconut milk. Heat for 2 minutes but do not allow to boil.
  7. Let the soup cool for 15 minutes and blend it with a hand blender or turn it in batches into a food processor or blender.
  8. Blend for 1 minute for a smooth texture.
  9. Return the soup to the saucepan. Add a pinch of saffron (optional). Turn the heat up again, simmer for 5 minutes (without boiling).


  • Serve with nice bread.
  • You can sometimes find tinned pumpkin (pumpkin puree). Just make sure this is without additives and preferably organic.
  • If you are lactose intolerant you can use oat milk/oat cream instead of the milk.
  • You can freeze leftover coconut milk. Freeze in an ice cube tray and use in soups, smoothies and more. The soup is even better the next day once the flavours have really settled. Pour the soup into containers and re-heat the next day.
  • For a thinner soup add more water.
  • If the coconut oil is cold (in which case it becomes solid), place the jar in a bowl filled with hot water for a couple of minutes.        
  • You can use regular stock cubes instead of yeast free ones.
  • You can use chicken stock instead of vegetable stock.    
  • The soup can be frozen and reheated later.
  • You can use butternut squash or winter squash instead of the pumpkin.