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out of the frying pan: pumpkin soup three ways

While I was growing up my parents always adopted a kind of ‘eat what you’re given’ mentality towards my brothers and I, and my unsophisticated little kid palate was forced to learn to enjoy everything green and leafy.

I’m grateful for it now. I remember I used to hate steamed zucchini so much that I’d hold my breath while eating it so that I couldn’t taste it, and on one occasion, I not so sneakily transferred half of the capsicum on my plate to the floor beneath the dining room table. Unfortunately I’d trusted our dogs to clean up after me, and apparently their opinion of capsicum was even lower than mine.

Thankfully I’m long past that now and I’ll happily eat just about anything that’s put on my plate, but even when I was a disgruntled six year old there was usually at least one dish for each of my least favourite vegetables that managed to make all of them taste uncharacteristically wonderful.

One of those dishes was humble Pumpkin Soup. It transformed what I saw as a dry, bland chore of a food into something delicious and creamy and comforting. It’s somewhat bizarre how much it altered my view of pumpkin given how few ingredients are involved, and how little time it takes to prepare and cook.

Here I’ve gathered three variations of this one dish that will hopefully showcase how versatile this simple staple can be. The first recipe is plain Pumpkin Soup, the second adds sweet potato, chilli, and ginger for a spicy twist (inspired by my brother’s recipe), and the third utilises lime juice, fresh coriander, and a dollop of peanut butter for additional creamy nuttiness.

All this said, the one remaining food that even my parents know not to feed me when I visit is coriander, and I feel a little dishonest saying that a dish will be improved by it when the taste of it makes me crinkle up my nose and stick out my tongue. However, despite my own inability to enjoy it, I know it’s a solid flavour match for the third soup, so if you do love coriander I really hope that it’ll be delicious! It’s definitely delicious without it.

 

Ingredients

I used to despair at having to cut the peel off pumpkins, counting my fingers as I went, but I’ve recently found that for pumpkins with thin skins a good quality vegetable peeler does the job quickly and easily.

Base for all three:

½ a butternut pumpkin, seeds and skin removed, cubed
1 onion, peeled and chopped
1 litre vegetable stock (chicken stock is also suitable)
salt
freshly ground pepper
olive oil

Additional Ingredients and Methods

Good ol’ Pumpkin Soup

freshly grated nutmeg

Method

  1. Heat a glug of olive oil on medium heat in a large pot, add onion and sweat for a few minutes until translucent.
  2. Add pumpkin, season with salt and pepper.
  3. Add stock, bring to the boil and reduce to a gentle simmer, cooking for twenty minutes or so. Once cooked the pumpkin should easily squish when pushed against the side of the pot with a spoon.
  4. In a blender (or with a stick blender) whizz up the pumpkin until smooth.
  5. Add a light sprinkle of freshly grated nutmeg and adjust seasonings if necessary.

Tip: Serve with bread or a fresh swirl of sour cream.

Pumpkin, Sweet Potato and Ginger Soup

1 large sweet potato, peeled and cubed
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 clove garlic, peeled and chopped
thumb sized knob of ginger, peeled and finely grated
1-2 small red chillies depending on how spicy you prefer, seeds and white membrane removed, finely diced

Method

  1. Heat a glug of olive oil on medium heat in a large pot, add onion, ginger, and chilli. Sweat for a few minutes until onion starts to turn translucent.  Add cumin and gently fry for 1 minute.
  2. Add pumpkin and sweet potato, season with salt and pepper.
  3. Follow steps 3 and 4 of above recipe.
  4. Adjust seasonings if necessary.

Pumpkin and Peanut Butter soup

Taste your peanut butter before you start cooking. If it’s particularly salty you may want to go easy on the seasoning for this variation.

2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
Juice of one lime
1-2 tbsp. peanut butter, smooth or chunky depending on the texture you’re aiming for
a few sprigs of coriander leaves, finely chopped

Method

  1. Heat a glug of olive oil on medium heat in a large pot, add onion and garlic and sweat for a few minutes until onion is translucent.
  2. Add pumpkin, season with salt and pepper.
  3. Follow steps 3 and 4 of first recipe.
  4. Ladle a small amount of hot soup into a bowl and add 1 heaped tbsp. of peanut butter, stirring until incorporated, then stir back into the soup. This way you won’t end up with oddly distributed lumps of peanut butter. Taste and add more peanut butter if desired.
  5. Remove from heat and add lime juice and coriander.
  6. Adjust seasonings if necessary.

Tip: Serve with a swirl of plain yoghurt and a fresh sprinkle of chopped coriander.

What’s the best way to cook pumpkin soup, Lipsters? Share your recipes below!

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