Pump­kin takes the soup crown – again

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Pre­pared to be bowled over. Google has la­dled up New Zealand’s top 10 soup recipe search habits and the win­ner, for the third con­sec­u­tive year, is pump­kin. But the peren­nial favourite shouldn’t rest on its lau­rels.

Broc­coli has surged into third spot (from 10th place last year) and, for the first time, in­ter­na­tional favourites from Ja­pan and Thai­land have made the top 10 list, with miso and tom yum soups com­ing into ninth and 10th place, re­spec­tively.

Tra­di­tional veg­eta­bles in­clud­ing potato, leek and onion have all dropped out off the list.

Annabelle White, celebrity cook and food writer, says it’s about time broc­coli took a star turn.

‘‘I tour the coun­try with my broc­coli soup. It’s a su­per food! But it’s re­ally im­por­tant not to over­cook it. If you do that, it changes colour and it starts to look like the Ro­torua ther­mal hot pools.’’

White’s se­cret? Re­ally good chicken stock – and a hunk of blue cheese in the bot­tom of the bowl.

Mean­while, Masu restau­rant’s Nic Watt says he’s not sur­prised to see miso in the list. Masu, the Auck­land­based Ja­panese eatery named Cui­sine mag­a­zine’s 2014’s new restau­rant of the year, adds Cloudy Bay clams to its $8.90 miso of­fer­ing, but Watt says the ba­sic soup is easy to make at home.

‘‘My 72-year-old mum does a restau­rant grade miso with a cof­fee plunger. If you can make a good strong builder’s tea, you can make restau­rant grade miso.’’

New Zealan­ders have a long con­nec­tion with the pump­kin, says John Sey­mour, Welling­ton-based se­nior busi­ness manager with Veg­eta­bles NZ.

‘‘In the pre-war days, when there was a lot of poverty, it was a low­cost way of pro­vid­ing food. It has longevity. The pump­kin was some­thing that sat in your shed, and if you were ever short of some­thing, the easy so­lu­tion was to make pump­kin soup. Broc­coli is more of a new food – the vol­ume be­ing pur­chased and con­sumed has in­creased sig­nif­i­cantly over the past few years.’’

Sid Sahrawat, of Auck­land’s Si­dart restau­rant, says his top tip for pump­kin is to add a lit­tle bit of car­damom.

‘‘It makes it a lot more ex­cit­ing.’’

Pump­kin Soup

For 6-8 serv­ings. 1kg pump­kin 2 onions, chopped 2 cups wa­ter 2 cloves gar­lic, chopped 2 tsp chicken or veg­etable stock pow­der 2 tsp sugar 1⁄ tsp grated nut­meg

2 2-3 cups milk Salt, pep­per and sugar Cut the un­peeled pump­kin into chunks. Scrape away and dis­card the seeds and stringy part. Put all the other in­gre­di­ents ex­cept the milk and fi­nal sea­son­ings into a saucepan, lay the pieces of pump­kin on top, cover and sim­mer un­til the onion and pump­kin are ten­der. Do not over­cook the pump­kin or it will darken and lose some of its ap­peal. Lift the pieces of pump­kin onto a large plate or board. As soon as they are cool enough to work with, scoop the cooked flesh back into the onion mix­ture and dis­card the skin. Puree the pump­kin mix­ture. Be­fore serv­ing, thin the puree to the de­sired con­sis­tency with milk, adding a lit­tle cream if you want ex­tra rich­ness. Sea­son care­fully. Re­heat and serve. Vari­a­tions in­clude: a lit­tle blue cheese, ba­con and spring onion, parme­san cheese, gar­lic and gin­ger, Thai green curry paste and co­conut cream.

Pump­kin soup is the most Googled soup recipe in New Zealand.

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