After a month's travelling in Greece, Italy, Germany and England I'm now back in New Zealand, for a few months at least.
It's been a bit of a culinary journey - through Pasta with Pesto Genovese in Genoa, Red cabbage in Germany, and the good old Bangers and Mash in England.
Now that I'm back here, I'm back making one of my favourite foods - pumpkin soup.
It's simple, healthy and delicious! You can use any kind of pumpkin or squash. At the moment, I'm using pumpkins with a thin, easily sliceable skin in greyish green in colour, with bright orange flesh.
Slice pumpkin and remove seeds. If the skin is thin and easy to slice, remove with as sharp knife (be careful!). If it is hard, and you don't fancy hours spent hacking at it you can cook it first.
Cut into pieces about one inch square (or small enough to fit into a large saucepan if you are dealing with a particularly recalcitrant pumpkin and are leaving the skin on)
Allow about a fist-size quantity of pumpkin per person for a hearty soup.
Cover with water, and a teaspoonful or cube of vegetable or other stock powder. B ring to the boil, and simmer until pumpkin is tender.
If you have left the skin on, lift them out of the pumpkin stock onto a chopping board, and carefully remove the skin with a small sharp knife, before returning the skinless pumpkin to the pot.
Use a hand-blender to puree the soup, thin with water, or milk if you prefer. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
For extra flavour you can do any of the following
- boil a slice or two of bacon along with the pumpkin (no need to chop it if you are going to puree it with a hand blender later).
- saute an onion or leek in a spoonful of olive oil before adding water and boiling the pumpkin
- add ground or white pepper to season
- add a little fresh orange juice, or chopped parsley or coriander at the end.
- boil the pumpkin along with the bigger bones from a smoked or roasted chicken - remove the bones before pureeing (for this reason it's best to use the bigger bones - e.g. thigh bones rather than the whole carcass as removing the small bones from the soup can be a bit fiddly)
This is great on its own, or served with Jo Seagar's beer bread or other fresh bread.
If you use minimal amounts of water, and produce a very thick soup it also doubles as a pasta sauce - especially good when combined with diced smoked chicken on ravioli, spiral or bow pasta.