There are few better ways to beat the cold than with a bowl of heart-warming, soul-realigning, velvety pumpkin soup. Sadly, it lost any kind of 'fancy' when it became the ubiquitous Soup of the Day on menus the country over. But the humble pumpkin soup can be dressed up, or down, to suit any occasion—from a mid-week lunch to a delightful dinner as the base for some beautiful chargrilled scallops or slow roasted pork belly.
I love the smokiness of Middle Eastern-inspired flavours—pumpkin seems to absorb and cherish them—the way your fridge takes on the smell of an ill-placed banana. I've added some toasted pine nuts and chopped kale for freshness, and texture, but this soup is just as great without.
Tips for the ultimate pumpkin soup
1. Pumpkin is very good at absorbing water—the trick is to cook it without turning it to mush, this helps give the soup volume—keep the heat low and slow so you can control it.
2. Basic rule of thumb is 500g of peeled and chopped pumpkin will give you 1 cup of pumpkin puree.
3. Sweeter pumpkins seem to work well in soups so try to use a Butternut, Kent (Jap) or Jarrahdale variety.
Serves 2 - 4
A very generous pinch of ground cumin?
500g ripe pumpkin or butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1½cm cubes
1 large white onion, sliced?
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ tsp finely grated ginger
1 tbsp maple syrup
½ tbsp pomegranate molasses
500ml vegetable stock?
¾ cup natural yoghurt (or to taste)
3 tbsp pine nuts, lightly toasted
Kale, finely chopped
Olive and pomegranate molasses to season
Heat the butter in a large pan until melted. Add the sliced onion and cook till translucent, then add the pumpkin, cumin, garlic and ginger. Lightly sauté over a low heat, stirring constantly to prevent sticking, for about 10 minutes. It should be soft but not coloured.
Add the maple syrup and cook until the pumpkin begins to colour —you want it to caramelise slightly, then pour in the vegetable stock, turn the heat to low and simmer for 5—10 minutes, or until the pumpkin is soft and there is still some liquid in the pan. Allow to cool slightly then add to a blender with the yoghurt. Season with salt and pepper and blitz to a soup consistency. Toss the pine nuts and chopped kale with some olive oil.
To serve, pour the soup into serving bowls, drizzle over some olive oil and pomegranate molasses, then top with the kale and pine nut mixture. Serve warm with some crusty bread.