Sunday, 9 October 2011

Chunky Punky

Zuppa di Zucca con Pomodori Secchi e Salvia
Pumpkin Soup with Sun-Dried Tomato & Sage

You all know how I like a good hearty soup by now and of course, come Autumn, we all love a nice, seasonal pumpkin soup. I wanted to try something a little different though and I also wanted to have a nice chunky soup, rather than yet another of those puréed and strained to death concoctions. Sure, a perfectly smooth soup is perfectly fine- but I wanted something more robust and substantial tonight- something a lumberjack might enjoy more than a prima ballerina...

Again, I turned to the Hokkaido pumpkin- I had some in my freezer from a couple of months ago and it had been an experiment to see just how it holds up to freezing- and I am delighted to say it works excellently and that I will be doing it again for sure! The great thing about the Hokkaido is that you do not have to peel it and the skin gives great added color and density and flavor. I decided to slice the chunks I had frozen and so I had nice little mouth-sized slices- perfect.

The other ingredients were, finely chopped red onion, celery, garlic and ginger, which all went into a saucepan with a little clarified butter. As soon as the onions were nice and translucent, I grated everything well with nutmeg, added a tiny hint of cinnamon, some chili powder, salt and pepper and stirred well. Then I added the pumpkin slices and cooked for a further 2-3 minutes. Next I added milk and little very finely chopped sage. I let this cook for a further 2-3 minutes until the soup had begun to thicken.

As soon as the pumpkin begins to get close to being ready, you will find that it will thicken up the soup a lot, so at this point, add a hint of tomato paste and add boiling water to the mix to "stretch" it and thin it down to a nice consistency. Make sure to only add a hint of tomato paste!

I served it up with some ground chili and pepper, an extra hint of nutmeg and a couple of small leaves of sage. A very simple and relatively quick soup to prepare- light, creamy, chunky, spicy, and just plain good! I didn't add anything- all the flavor came from the ginger, onions, celery, garlic, sage and of course the pumpkin- and that is more than a wonderful combination of flavors right there!

I hope you give it a try- you will see that it tastes creamy without the cream, complex without the difficulty, spicy without being too extreme- just honest, simple and delicious food... and sometimes it is easier than you think!

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