Monday, 15 October 2012

Spiced Up for Supper!

Zuppa Arabica di Zucca, con Rosmarino e Yogurt
Arabian Spiced Pumpkin Soup with Rosemary & Yogurt

At last, the cold weather is giving me the excuse I need to start making soups again! Yummy, spicy, easy to make and the perfect meal on a cold weekday night, it is sad that so many people think that soups only exist in cans, stacked up on supermarket shelves...

Soups also needn't take ages and ages to cook or be complicated to make. This bowl of aromatic Hokkaido pumpkin and Ras al Hanout-spiced soup only took me 30 minutes to make from scratch. I suppose the only thing quicker would be to make a soup from the can- and even that would take at least 15 minutes by the time it has warmed through... but you know I would never do that!

I wouldn't make a canned soup, but I will definitely cheat and cut corners if I can! And of course I can! Furthermore, I can share my tricks with you- which I am more than happy to do! So let's get started!

First of all, I grated about 2 handfuls of Hokkaido pumpkin per person, 1 carrot, a half stick of celery, a 1" slice of ginger, 1 small potato, 1 clove of garlic and a half of an onion- that's almost all of the prep-work right there! Sauté these in a little olive oil, along with about a tablespoonful of finely chopped rosemary, a tablespoon of tomato paste and a tablespoon of Ras al Hanout spice.

Once all of the ingredients have beens stirred well together, deglaze the saucepan with a little white wine and add just enough boiling water to cover the thick and flavorful purée. Season with salt, pepper, a little cinnamon and nutmeg and bay leaf and keep adding water, little by little as you go until you reach the desired consistency. Use hot water, as you would use a hot broth whilst making a risotto, so that the cooking process is not interrupted and so that the soup thickens naturally as it simmers away and the pumpkin, carrot and potato give off their natural starch. 

As the ingredients were all finely grated from the get-go, they will cook quickly and evenly and you will have no need to blend your soup, as is will become smooth and creamy all by itself. In order to make it taste a little milder and creamier, I added a tablespoon of yogurt when I served it up- the traditional Arabian method for adding a touch of mildness to a spicy dish, but added a sprinkle of fresh, young rosemary and some chili flakes to make it just perfect!

The finishing touch was a twist of puff pastry which I popped into the oven for 5 minutes on each side- perfect for dipping and dunking! And there you have it! Spicy and just plain souper! Hope you give it a go too some time- you won't regret it!

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