(Except it's not actually made with pumpkin, but butternut squash to give it a lovely, sweet flavour. Meh. Potato potahto.) It's autumn in Australia and, although Melbourne seems to be clinging to the mother of all Indian summers, the leaves are turning gold and brown and the nights are most definitely cooler. This puts me in the mood for soup.
I have been searching and experimenting for ages to get just the right kind of pumpkin soup for my winter mood: hearty but not too thick; creamy but not too rich; scented with autumn spices but still classic. Comforting. Homelike. I adapted this recipe from one on Good Eatin' With Lynne and I do believe I've found my pumpkin/butternut squash soup holy grail at last.
1 butternut squash 1 tbsp olive oil 1 large onion, finely chopped 1 fat garlic clove, coarsely chopped 1 tsp minced fresh ginger 1/2 tbsp brown sugar 1/2 tsp nutmeg 1/2 tsp cinnamon 2-3 cups chicken stock 1/2 cup coconut milk Freshly ground sea salt (to taste)
A little extra coconut milk Freshly ground black pepper Fresh herbs (eg sage leaves, parsley leaves, chopped chives)
1. Preheat the oven to 180 C.
2. Halve the squash and scoop out the seeds. Place the halves in a baking tray and brush them with a little olive oil, then roast until the squash is very tender. This will probably take up to an hour, although I sped the process up to half an hour by cutting up the squash into smaller pieces.
3. While the squash is roasting, prepare your other ingredients: chop the onion and garlic, mince the ginger, and place the spices and brown sugar together into a small bowl.
4. When the squash is cooked, remove it from the oven. At the same time, heat the oil in a big pot over a medium-to-low flame, then stir in the onion, garlic, ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon and sugar. Cover and let it cook for about 10 minutes.
5. While the onion and spices are cooking, remove the peel from the squash and toss it out, then cut the squash into smallish chunks.
6. Add the squash and chicken stock to the pot then return the lid and bring it all to the boil. Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes.
7. If you plan to serve warm bread, pop it in a low oven at the end of the simmer period.
8. Take your soup off the heat and puree it in a blender. Depending on your blender, you may need to let the soup cool off just a little first, to avoid cracking the plastic. (Better still, use an immersion blender. Ahem. I don't have one, Santa.)
9. Return the soup to the pan on the lowest heat. Stir in the coconut milk. Do a little taste-test at this stage. If you think it's needed, add in a little sea-salt, but not too much.
10. When the soup is hot enough to serve, pour it into serving bowls. Swirl a teaspoon of coconut milk in the centre to decorate each serve, grind pepper over it, then garnish with herbs.