Lentils for breakfast- welcome

Here is your invitation to sample beautiful recipes that are good for you, good for the planet and good to eat. They mainly feature plants, because that's what I try to eat the most. I am not a fancy cook, but I believe that food is one of our greatest pleasures and deserves to be celebrated. Real food, whole food, kind food. Welcome to the feast!

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

The spiciest pumpkin soup ever

Late afternoon autumn sunshine on the
frangipani tree outside the kitchen
The other night I was cooking pumpkin and chickpea tagine for dinner. The one that takes me about 1 hour of prep. As I wouldn't be home until 7.30 to start cooking, I did something I've never done before.

I bought a pack of pre-peeled, pre-chopped pumpkin.

Once home, I tossed it in 1 tbsp olive oil and some salt and pepper and threw it in the faithful roasting pan with a couple of carrots. 'Too easy', I thought.

Yep, too easy. 20 mins later I checked their progress, and the pumpkin had steamed into an ugly browny-orangey mess.

So, I scooped it out and left the carrots to do their thing in peace. I decided to use the pumpkin mess to make soup. And to accept that peeling and chopping are usually unavoidable when you cook from scratch.

Pumpkin soup: the upside
Pumpkin soup is easy to make and it's versatile. You can cook it with Indian, North African, Japanese, Thai or French-inspired flavours. You can add cubes of tofu, paneer or tempeh for protein. You can bulk it up with chickpeas or brown rice. You can garnish with chives, parsley, coriander, tamari, creme fraiche, sour cream or natural yoghurt. You can serve with warm flat bread or sourdough toast.

Well, don't know about you, but these are all things I do with pumpkin soup.

Pumpkin soup: the downside
It can be like thick, gloopy baby food. It can have a mono-flavour, resulting in severe boredom half-way through the bowl. It can be messy and fiddly to prepare if you decide to puree it in the blender.

But, it's been months since my last dose - and I have me a packet of whole dried habenero chillis I've been dying to crack open. Time to unleash pumpkin soup el diabolo.

Habenero chillis
I love the distinctive smokey aroma conferred by chipotle chilli, and I've been keen to try other Mexican chillis. They are not easy to come by on the lower North Shore, but Herbie's Spices reliably take us to exotic lands - in those few stockists that carry them.

Roasted red onion, swede and parsnips
My husband and daughter do not share my enthusiasm for chilli, so if I can only crank up the heat in dishes I'm making for myself. I had kept a torn-out recipe by Karen Martini for a Mexican-type pumpkin soup, and used it for inspiration. But what I made is entirely my own creation.

I roasted extra root vegetables for bulk and complexity of flavour. I didn't know how much chilli to use, so I chopped up  a whole one and added a couple of pinches of the flakes. Plenty.

Pumpkin soup el diabolo

1 red onion
half a pumpkin (I prefer butternut)
2 parsnips
1 swede
1 tsp Herbie's Mexican Spice Blend
half a dried habanero chilli, de-seeded and chopped finely
fresh coriander (stalk and leaves)

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.
Toss all the vegetables in 2 tbs of olive oil (at most). Add salt. I added 1 tsp of chipotle chilli here as well.
Roast for 30 mins to 40 mins until caramelised and soft.
Heat some butter in a wide-bottomed pan. Add the roast onions, Mexican spice mix and chilli and cook for 3 mins.
Add the remaining vegetables, fresh coriander and enough stock to cover.
Heat through gently for at least 20 mins.
Puree the soup in batches in a blender or food processor. Add extra stock or water if nec to make sure the consistency doesn't become too much like baby food.
Serve with sour cream and a generous squeeze of lime juice.

The verdict
The chilli added a punch, if not the heavenly fragrance as described on the Herbie's website. The soup makes for a filling and delicious lunch, full of flavour and low in calories. I made an enormous batch, so after 4 straight days of pumpkin soup for lunch I had had my fill. But for something that started as a disaster, it was a delectable success.
Pumpkin soup with tempeh, natural yoghurt and lemon juice
ready for lunch, bathed in the early morning autumn sunshine

And I still have 4 chillis to go. Any suggestions, amigos?! Let me know in the comments. Or tell me about your favourite pumpkin soup recipe. Everybody has one.

1 comment:

  1. Yum Jill! I love playing around with Pumpkin soup - this has me craving for some even early in the morning! Soup season is here!