Garden to Table: How To Make Pumpkin Soup

Tis the season for all things pumpkin       DSCF1162 (2)

Tonight my eight year old exclaimed “Mum, this is the best soup ever!” I’ll admit that he had just played football, therefore was “starving”, and he’s the most adventurous eater of the lot, but even my pickiest eater loves it (with extra croutons or a grilled cheese toasty). It’s a sure sign of recipe success when my husband and three or more of our five children like the dish served. If not, the recipe is binned or reworked. After several attempts, this is the pumpkin soup recipe that has them all asking for seconds.

The crunchy toppings are a big part of the appeal for everyone. You might be tempted to add cream. It is already quite sweet. We prefer kefir or natural yogurt; the sour complements nicely the sweetness of the soup. I’ve included recipes for our favourite toppings. They are simple, yet add flavour and texture that takes the dish from homemade good to professional exceptional.

Makes about 10 cups/2 kg

Ingredients

2 kg / 4 ½ pounds whole pumpkin

500 g / 1 pound carrots cut into 1″ chunks

5 garlic cloves, roughly chopped

3 medium white onions, quartered

6-3″ sprigs lemon thyme (regular thyme works well also), remove leaves from stems

60 ml / ¼ cup olive oil

180 ml / ¾ cup honey

1 litre / 4 cups vegetable stock

One oven roasting bag and roasting pan to set it in–I roasted with and without oven roasting bag. The advantage of the bag is that veg doesn’t blacken in the oven. This might be ideal as a side dish, but not so much in pureed soup. I have had the garlic char without the bag. Overall, I find the taste preferable using the oven roasting bag. Choose a roasting pan that is large enough that the bag has room to spread out so veg is not heaped up with the centre veg cooking slower than outer veg. A large cookie sheet would work nicely also.

Heat oven to 210°C / 410°F

Cut pumpkin in half from stem to base. Cut each side in half again. Using a large spoon, scrape seeds and stringy bits away from the flesh and set aside–roasting the seeds makes a great snack and a crunchy topping for the soup. Once all the guts have been removed, peel the skin off the pumpkin using a potato peeler. Further cut the prepared quarters into palm sized chunks.

Put all prepared vegetables into oven roasting bag.

Add olive oil and honey and tie bag closed. Toss until all veg is coated evenly.

Set in roasting pan. Using a sharp knife, poke air vents in roasting bag then place in mid to top of preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes until veg has softened–carrots are the hardest so give them a squeeze, knife, or toothpick poke to check for doneness. They don’t have to be completely cooked through as they will simmer in a pot next.

Put roasted veg into large pot. I put the entire bag into the pot, slice the bag down the side and carefully remove the bag, leaving the veg in the pot.

Add vegetable stock to pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes until all veg have softened.

Puree in a blender until smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste. We like ours thick, but if you like it a bit thinner you could add more vegetable stock or water in until it suits you.  Press through a fine mesh sieve if you want it even silkier.

Pour into your favourite soup bowls. Swirl with olive oil, dot with kefir or natural yoghurt, and top with one of the following:

Croutons                        DSCF1187

Ingredients

day old bread, cubed –I buy French loaf and let it sit for a day unwrapped. Day (or two) old is best because it is drier and doesn’t squish when being cut into cubes.

fresh rosemary, finely chopped

olive oil

salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 200°C /400°F

Place bread in large bowl. Drizzle with olive oil, s & p, and ½ the rosemary and mix well. Add more olive oil and remaining rosemary, mix again. They will be crispier and tastier with a good coating of oil, but beware not to soak them.

Line sheet pan in foil, parchment paper, or silicone mat. Spread bread evenly on pan and bake for 10 to 15 minutes in middle of oven until golden.

Let cool completely before storing in airtight container.

Sage Crisps                      DSCF1182

Ingredients

fresh sage leaves

butter

coconut oil

Melt small amount of butter in frying pan. Add equal amount of coconut oil. On medium-high heat, fry the sage leaves until crisp. This only takes seconds. Remove and set on plate. Garnish on top of soup just before serving.

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds     DSCF1173

Ingredients

fresh pumpkin seeds—separate from the stringy pumpkin flesh and rinse thoroughly.

sea salt

Preheat oven to 175°C /350°F

For every 550 grams / 2 cups of pumpkin seeds use 700 litres / 3 cups of water and 56 grams / ¼ cup of sea salt.

Place water and sea salt into a sauce pan and warm just enough to dissolve the salt. Don’t worry if it isn’t completely dissolved. Remove from the stove and add the pumpkin seeds. Let soak for three or more hours. This will really enhance the saltiness which greatly compliments the sweet soup.

Drain the seeds in a colander but don’t rinse. Sprinkle 1 to 2 tablespoons sea salt on them and stir to coat evenly.

Spread the seeds in a single layer on cookie sheets lined with foil, parchment paper, or silicone mat. Place in the oven, flip-stirring the seeds and rotating the pan every five minutes for twenty to thirty minutes–until they are nicely dried. Do not allow them to brown; they aren’t as tasty.

Let cool completely before storing in airtight container.

“Only the knife knows what goes on in the heart of a pumpkin.” –Simone Schwartz-Bart


25 Comments

  1. amykierce says:

    Sage crisps!!! Wow that sounds so good! I love using coconut oil, too, and I love using pumpkin straight from the pumpkin itself. I’m making your recipe soon. When I do, I’ll post a picture. Are you on Facebook?

    Like

    • Oh my goodness, thanks for the super smile!! Coconut oil is fab isn’t it? I was going to suggest using it to roast the veg also, but seeing as I hadn’t before I withheld the idea. I am personally on fb but not as The Aran Artisan. I haven’t told anyone except hubs I am blogging!!

      Like

    • My husband is the same, not fond of pumpkin on it’s own. Roasted carrots and onions are always sweet (my children and I call them candy-carrots). Maybe that is where the sweetness comes in. We were pleasantly surprised. Hope your taste buds fancy it too.

      Like

  2. Murtagh's Meadow says:

    Have never succeeded in roasting pumpkin seeds successfully – must remember to try your recipe! Soup sounds yum. Love the “pumpkin man” too:)

    Like

    • My sugar pumpkins didn’t produce this year. We had a miserable summer. These carvers will do, but honey and carrots are needed to get the extra sweetness. Enjoy your soup Amy. Kefir is so awesome!! Xx

      Like

  3. Sarah says:

    Sounds lovely Melissa. Your tip about the roasting bag sounds promising, and the recipe sounds very tasty. I’m not much of a cook but I reckon, with this recipe, I might be able to manage to pull off a success in the kitchen. I only have two kids but it’s still hard to please everyone. 🙂 Thanks for sharing your hard-earned knowledge.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Yum! Pumpkin (or any squash) soup was a favourite in my family too – I add Coconut Milk and parsnips, with turmeric, coriander and cumin (no green herbs) – strength of the spices to suit. Sometimes I add the zest of an orange and some lemon juice too just for a change.

    Liked by 1 person

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