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Thai style pumpkin & shrimp bisque

4 tbsp. butter
1 large onion, diced
1 cup finely chopped leeks (white part only)
2 16-oz. cans pumpkin (pureed)
6 to 7 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
1 12-oz. can coconut milk
3 tbsp. nam pla (Asian fish sauce)
1 tbsp. finely grated ginger
2 cups milk
1 pound raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 tbsp. fresh lime juice
salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
½ cup chopped fresh cilantro
½ cup red bell pepper, finely diced

Melt the butter in a large soup pot over medium heat. Sauté the onion and the leeks for 8 to 10 minutes, until soft and golden. Stir in the pumpkin, stock, coconut milk, nam pla and the ginger. Simmer over low heat for 15 to 20 minutes. Add the milk and the salt and pepper to taste and simmer another 10 minutes. (Do not boil.)

Coarsely chop half the shrimp and set aside. Add the remaining shrimp to the soup and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, just until they turn pink. Transfer the soup solids to a food processor, add about ¾ of a cup of liquid, and puree until smooth. Stir in the lime juice. Return the puree to the pot, and cook gently for 5 to 10 minutes. Correct seasonings and add more stock, if necessary. Add the reserved chopped shrimp and cook for 1 to 2 minutes more, just until they turn pink. Ladle into heated bowls and garnish with the cilantro and the red pepper, if desired.

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