Saturday, April 12, 2008
With a history that goes back to 6000BC, soup seems to have always been regarded as an Intrinsically Good Thing. It has been adapted in countless ways to suit different cultures and climates, from hearty warming minestrone, to refreshing cold soups. Soup is healthy, balanced, versatile and comforting, not to mention delicious. Come autumn and winter, for me, there are few things I like more than a steaming bowl of soup, with lots of crusty bread.
As a child though, I seemed to have quite strong opinions about soup. I didn’t even want to be in the same room as my Nanna’s traditional Maltese fish soup. After my mum made pumpkin soup from a can one night (ewww) I wouldn’t touch the stuff again for about twelve years. Even when a pumpkin vine unexpectedly grew out of our compost heap a few years ago, and we ended up with two-dozen or so gorgeous pumpkins, I refused the soup.
Last winter, I spotted Donna Hay’s recipe for Roast Pumpkin Soup in Modern Classics 1. I like pumpkin, that isn’t the problem, but I still had a hard time summoning the courage to try the recipe, so firm was I in my conviction never to let liquefied pumpkin pass my lips again. I made everyone else taste it first, before I’d even picked up my spoon. I’m happy to report though, that the recipe was fantastic. I’ve made it quite a few times since then, with little changes along the way. Actually, I wanted to tell you about it last year but never got to snap a photo. I’ve almost been looking forward to autumn so I could make it again!
I’ve only tried it using butternut pumpkin (squash) however I’m sure it would be equally wonderful with other kinds of sweet pumpkin. The puree can be made in advance and frozen. After that step, the soup comes together very quickly; it’s perfect for an easy meal on a cold night. The maple syrup was an inspired decision, deviating from the honey specified in the original and I truly like it better this way. I’ve tried it with and without the mustard and it’s nice either way, so I’ve specified it here as strictly optional. I’m looking forward to making my own chicken stock soon, and I also hope to try this soup with a combination of butternut and sweet potato.
For my friends in warmer climes who are thinking “soup is so last month”, here are a few recipes you might like to try this spring. I envy you!
- Yoghurt Panna Cotta
- Little Strawberry and Coconut Cakes
- (New and Improved!) Chicken Penne Pesto
- Chunky Chicken and Vegetable Soup
Roast Pumpkin and Maple Soup
Adapted from Modern Classics 1 by Donna Hay
Serves 4, with leftovers
• 2kg butternut or other sweet pumpkin
• Macadamia or Olive Oil
• 2L chicken or vegetable stock
• 3-4 tablespoons maple syrup
• 2 teaspoons Dijon Mustard (optional)
• Salt and Pepper
1. Preheat the oven to 200°C (390°F)
2. Chop the pumpkin into 1 inch thick slices, discard the seeds and peel the skin with a potato peeler. Arrange in a baking dish, brush with macadamia or olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for 1 hour, or until pumpkin is cooked through. Allow to cool for 15 minutes.
3. In a food processor, place about a third of the roast pumpkin with ½ cup of stock and pulse until smooth. Place the puree into a large pot and repeat twice with the rest of the pumpkin.
4. Add the rest of the stock, the maple syrup and the mustard (if using) to the pot, and bring to the boil slowly on low heat. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
5. Serve in bowls or mugs with fresh crusty bread.