Saturday 28 May 2016

Perfect Pumpkin Soup

Autumn has finally started to behave as she should!  I even felt invigorated by crisp mornings and cooler temperatures (briefly) last week.  In fact, it seems as if we've jumped straight into Winter.  This makes it Soup Weather.
Pumpkin Soup, Crusty Bread & a Bacon Crumb
Several years ago (not admitting just how many), I had a Pumpkin Soup Obsession.  Any time I was at a cafe for lunch I would have Pumpkin Soup.  I managed to test all of the soups in my small country town, and figured out which one was the best.  (There was also a Lasagne Obsession, but we won't go into that right now.)  My obsession gradually evolved into an obsession with finding the Perfect Pumpkin Soup recipe.  I didn't manage to find The Perfect Pumpkin Soup in all the places I was looking, so I developed my own over the years.  You need to appreciate the huge sacrifices I made in the research for this Obsession.  And now I'm going to share it with you!

I'm definitely no creative Recipe Developer - I read other people's blogs in awe, as they seem to effortlessly conjure up myriads of creative ideas to throw together each day.  That is not me.

But I love my Perfect Pumpkin Soup recipe, and over the years I've had good feedback from flatmates and husband that it's yummy.  So now I'm going to share it with you.

If you too are being lured by the siren call of Autumn Pumpkins and need more ideas than just my humble Perfect Pumpkin Soup recipe, you should definitely check out The Five Beans blog about ah-maz-ing Pumpkin Recipes.  Elissa is definitely a creative Recipe Developer!  I'll be buying more pumpkins so I can try some of her recipes out.  Not sure about the Pumpkin Beer though!

Here's my Perfect Pumpkin Soup.  I would normally cook this in my big Soup Pot, but we still haven't got our cook top installed.  (We have finally managed to buy it though, although we seriously considered ditching it for more bench space.)
I have tried this recipe in the Thermomix, which will work if you need it to, but in my opinion, I honestly think it tastes better the old-fashioned way.

I think it gives the flavours time to develop properly; allows for caramelisation at the beginning of the recipe; and I've often thought that the wooden spoon you use should really be listed in your ingredients - surely there is a piquancy added from the spoon being used, especially when it sits in the pot for a while ;).  TMX instructions are at the bottom.
Thermomix-ing it.  But it's better the old-fashioned way.  We just had no cooktop at the time.

olive oil - a splash
Not-so-secret herbs & spices

butter - a knob
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
bacon - 2 rashers
Butternut Pumpkin - you could use half at a pinch, but I like to make a big batch when I'm cooking, so usually use a whole one
1-2 potatoes
Stock - chicken or vegie stock
4 cloves - count them carefully in, count them carefully out! if you use the Tmx, they will be blended in, so you don't need to worry
cinnamon - a couple of shakes
nutmeg - one shake
bay leaf
oregano, dried - two shakes
More not-so-secret ingredients

basil, dried - one shake
chives, dried - one shake
tomato paste, generous tablespoon - trust me on this - it gives a depth of flavour to the soup, so it's a full flavour, not a light sweet tone
honey, generous tablespoon
chilli flakes, to taste - the idea of these is to give a little warming heat, so I usually just add a light shake, but if you loooove chilli, go for your life!
tabasco sauce, dash
cracked pepper - to taste
milk, or cream, if desired
Natural Yoghurt or Sour cream to serve

  • Place olive oil & butter in the pot (I use both, as it gives the rich flavour of the butter while the oil stops it from burning)
  • Gently heat oil/butter & saute onion & garlic until soft and they gain a little colour
  • Add the herbs and spices, including Bay leaf and cloves.  Allow them to saute for a few minutes until they become fragrant.  
  • Add the tomato paste and the honey.  Allow these to warm through and become a little runny. 
  • While you are starting the soup, peel & chop Pumpkin roughly I've tried leaving the skin on, which you can do - it's very nutritious, but I prefer the flavour without the skin.  Still, knowing you can leave it on means you don't have to be as precious about peeling it
  • Peel & chop potatoes roughly, and add
  • Stir the pumpkin & potato, thoroughly through the spice mixture with a wooden spoon so they become coated in all that yummy goodness.
  • Then add the stock.  I used to always use chicken stock, but now tend to use the Tmx Vegetable Stock we have in the fridge.  It's quite yummy!  I judge the amount of stock by how much is required to barely cover the Pumpkin.  Follow the package directions for stock : water ratio if you are using a powdered stock.  If you are in a hurry, have the water pre-boiled in the kettle.
  • Bring to a rolling boil, then reduce to a simmer.
  • I keep the lid sitting on the pot, but slightly offset so that some steam can escape, without losing too much liquid.
  • Allow to simmer until the pumpkin & potato are soft.  This is your minimum cooking time - it can be as quick as 15 minutes, especially if you pre-boil the water.
  • I find that the soup improves if you have time to simmer it for longer.  A good 30 minutes is definitely worth it!
  • When the soup is cooked through, allow to cool a little (if you have time) before blending (carefully!) with a stick mixer.  Once you start the blending process, you will be able to spot your cloves and bay leaf and remove these so there are no nasty surprises for anyone!
  • If you'd like to add a little milk, do so at this point, and gently bring back up to heat - don't add too much or you will dilute the flavour. I used to always add milk to this, to make it creamier (or even cream if I had some on hand) but I find it really doesn't need it.
I've done this in a slow cooker too, in which I am able to brown my ingredients before starting the slow cooker phase.  It works quite well, although I prefer the stove top version.
Bacon crumb.  Because I forgot to put the bacon in at the start.
Cook bacon in the oven, allow to cool, blitz in your food processor.
To serve, it's delicious with a dollop of Greek Yoghurt, and a sprinkling of chives (if you have some).

Add some crusty bread and butter, and Voila.

There you have it:  Perfect Pumpkin Soup

If you have a Thermomix, this is how I did it:

Butter, oil, onion & garlic in - 4 sec / Speed 5

Scrape down sides, then 3 min / 120 / speed 1

Add spices, herbs, tabasco, tomato paste & honey:  1 min / 100 / reverse speed 1

Add pumpkin & potato: 10-15 sec / reverse speed 2 

Check to see if pumpkin is coated with flavourings.  Repeat if necessary.

Cook 20 min / 100 / Reverse Speed 1  (this was to save breaking up the bay leaf too much)

Blitz at end if needed - 10 sec, speed 5


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    1. Thank you so much CeeBee - we love this in winter :)