This dawned on me when I was hitched to the post of a friend’s tent in Armidale. He is a great cook, and we all loved his pumpkin soup, served with a teaspoon of butter and parmesan. Even the kids loved it, and they hate pumpkin!
What was the secret, I asked my host?
“no secret” replied “just pumpkin, nothing else!”
So here’s the base recipe. A little water in the bottom of a pot that has a tight fitting lid (water no more than 10% of the volume of the pot). Add chopped pumpkin, skin on (for home use, it will make the soup a little green…skin off for dinner parties or fussy kids)…the pieces should be around palm sized.
You may use roast pumpkin instead, and it will give you a richer/thicker result.
Bring the pot to the boil, reduce heat to the lowest simmer, and put the lid on.
Depending on a few factors, it will take 30 minutes to cook. Just test the biggest piece with a fork…the piece should fall off the fork easily. Drain any excess water.
From there, cool a little and blend with your stick blender or food processor, until totally liquid…salt to taste. Reheat slowly, so you don’t splatter yourself, and the soup will reduce a little, increasing in flavour.
13 variations…references to “butter/olive oil” mean either or both (the oil stops the butter burning)
1. grab some bread (even sliced is ok) and paint it with olive oil/butter, garlic, salt and pepper..toast under the griller…cop up and serve as croutons on top.
2. Gently fry sliced onions (1 med per person) and garlic (1 clove per person) in olive oil/butter in the saucepan for at least 20 minutes, until really caramelised (almost, but not burnt). Add half a glass of white wine, and cook until the wine is almost gone. Follow the standard recipe from this point, with just a touch of water, or roast pumpkin.
3. Start with 1/3 of the volume of pumpkin in chopped onions (or leeeks) and potatoes (skin on) in butter/olive oil for a few minutes, before proceeding with the standard recipe.
4. At the end of the standard recipe, add 5-10% fresh coriander, 10-20% coconut milk, chilli and ginger to taste. Optional cardoman, fish sauce (2 tsp/litre), soy (1 Tbs/litre) and toasted cumin seeds; be subtle. Yum.
5. Add to the satndard recipe, 20% red capsicum, 20% carrot and choose any of the other variations.
6. Serve the standard with a knob of butter and grated parmesan cheese. Simple elegance.
7. Start with 20% by weight fresh garlic cloves (yes, 20%!), just peeled and crushed, stir fried on low heat in olive oil/butter for ten minutes (be sure it doesn’t get dark) and proceed with the standard recipe. No more colds (or kissing).
8. make the standard recipe with chicken stock instead of water, for a very different but subtle twist.
9. Serve the standard recipe with a dollop of sour cream, chives and optional drizzle of sweet chilli sauce.
10. Prepare as per recipe (or chicken stock recipe) and add hot milk (or cream) at the end (after blending)
11. Toast some sesame seeds in a dry fry pan (watch for burning…be sure to remove from pan immediately when done), and apply liberally after serving..a little sliced nori (sushi seaweed sheets) looks good too…
13. Fresh orange juice (5-10% to taste) and a hint of ginger make an unusual twist.
Got a favourite not here? Spread the joy and post it!