MATT PRESTON

But it’s pump­kin soup that Aussies can’t go past They can be roasted, mashed or made into a pie.

Sunday Herald Sun - Stellar - - Contents - For more of Matt’s ways to in­di­vid­u­alise your pump­kin soup, go to de­li­cious.com.au.

An easy pump­kin soup recipe.

AS A na­tion we are rather unique in our love of pump­kin soup. The French cook it but it doesn’t fea­ture as promi­nently in their kitchens as a bouil­l­abaisse or a bisque. Amer­i­cans do it too, but the soup is a poor cousin to the far more pop­u­lar pump­kin pie. And the Korean hobakjuk is as much pump­kin por­ridge as soup.

Here in Aus­tralia, how­ever, pump­kin is reg­u­larly the most searched soup on recipe web­sites – a lit­tle weird as it is ridicu­lously easy to do. Like any smooth veg­etable soup it’s es­sen­tially com­bin­ing a cooked kilo of the veg in ques­tion with a litre of a suit­able stock (veg­etable for my veg­e­tar­ian friends, or chicken for all but the most ro­bust soups).

So here is the world’s simplest four in­gre­di­ent pump­kin soup, plus ideas to lift it from or­di­nary to ex­tra­or­di­nary.

THE SIMPLEST PUMP­KIN SOUP

Dice and cook 3 medium brown onions and 4 minced gar­lic cloves in a lit­tle olive oil and but­ter over a low heat. When soft, add 2kg peeled and chopped chunks of pump­kin. Stir, then add 2L stock. Bring to the boil, then re­duce heat and sim­mer 20 min­utes or un­til the pump­kin is soft. Blend the con­tents of the pan to your re­quired smooth­ness and sea­son to taste. Serve with a swirl of pour­ing cream. This makes enough soup for eight serves – enough for a meal for four now and an­other for the freezer.

THE RULES OF BLENDING

Don’t rush: You can’t blend un­der­cooked pump­kin smooth no mat­ter how hard you try. So wait un­til your veg is soft all the way through. Cool off: In­spi­ra­tional food writer Nigel Slater be­lieves cool­ing a lit­tle be­fore blending makes for a finer puree. The right equip­ment: A stand­ing liq­uidiser gives a finer puree than us­ing a stick blender, but both will do the job. Top tex­ture: Add more liq­uid for a run­nier soup. This could be more stock, cream, milk or even co­conut milk. Let off some steam: If us­ing a stand­ing liq­uidiser, re­move the cen­tral spigot in the lid and cover with a tea towel to let the steam es­cape. If you don’t do this, you risk soup ex­plod­ing all over the kitchen. Strain for per­fec­tion: To get your soup even smoother, pass it through a fine rounded sieve.

COOK­ING IT

I like to roast wedges of pump­kin, which helps to re­duce the mois­ture con­tent, mak­ing it taste richer and sweeter. You can flavour the pump­kin at this point by rub­bing it with a spice of choice. Place a cou­ple of halved onions to cook with the pump­kin to ei­ther use in the soup or as a gar­nish.

In­stead of roast­ing, you can also sim­mer in the liq­uid you will blend in.

FLAVOURING & GARNISHING

Thai Pump­kin Soup: To the onions, add 1 tbs minced galan­gal (or gin­ger), 1 tbs minced lemon­grass, and the cleaned, chopped roots and stalks of a small bunch of co­rian­der. Cook in a lit­tle co­conut fat or peanut oil. Add shred­ded lime leaves and 1 tbs grated palm sugar to the onion mix once soft­ened. Cook for a minute be­fore adding the pump­kin. Toss to coat, then add the stock.

After blending, sea­son to taste, stir in a cup of co­conut milk and gar­nish with a squeeze of lime, some sliced red chilli and co­rian­der leaves. Aus­tralian Pump­kin Soup: For a brighter, lighter soup, roast a cou­ple of Granny Smith ap­ples cut into wedges along with your pump­kin and a cou­ple of onions. Then in­clude these with the roast pump­kin when blending your soup with chicken stock.

Gar­nish this with a dol­lop of creme fraiche, some ba­tons of fresh ap­ple tossed in lemon juice and a cou­ple of sage leaves that have been crisped up in a fry­pan in (what will be­come brown) but­ter and a lit­tle nut­meg. French Pump­kin Soup: Roast 1kg peeled pump­kin chunks with 5 gar­lic cloves, 2 halved red onions and 5 sprigs thyme. Dis­card the thyme. Squeeze out the gar­lic and flesh of the onions and puree with the pump­kin and 1L warm veg­etable stock. Pass through a sieve, sea­son, warm and serve topped with a dol­lop of creme fraiche, fresh thyme leaves and crushed toasted hazel­nuts.

Creamy pump­kin soup. Recipe at de­li­cious.com.au

MATT PRESTON

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