Thursday, June 13, 2024
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Savour the spook-ticular flavourful pumpkin soup

ANN/THE STAR – On the final week of October, thoughts of pumpkins naturally conjure up images of iconic Jack-o’-lanterns. However, have you ever pondered the edibility of these seasonal squash? The answer is a resounding “yes”.

Yet, the more critical inquiry pertains to the safety of consuming a pumpkin that has been subject to exposure from insects, bacteria, wax, and smoke, owing to its role as a decorative item.

Opting for a fresh pumpkin is recommended for culinary endeavours, particularly when preparing a delectable roasted pumpkin soup.

You can opt for imported pumpkins like Japanese kabocha squash or winter squashes, but I find that our local pumpkin is well-suited for making pumpkin soup. It boasts a sweet, nutty flavour and a creamy pulp that enhances the soup’s overall taste.

While the pumpkin skin is technically edible, it may not mash properly with an immersion blender. To ensure a smooth consistency, it’s best to peel the pumpkin before roasting.

Serve the pumpkin soup hot with a drizzle of fresh cream, a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, a sprinkle of toasted pumpkin seeds and fresh ground black pepper. PHOTO: THE STAR

Although some prefer to roast the pumpkin first and then scrape out the pulp for the soup, this method can be a bit messy, as the skin might break apart and get into the pulp.

One vital step in building flavour for your soup is sauteing the onions in butter at the beginning.

Even though the butter is melted, it plays a vital role in emulsifying the broth with the pumpkin pulp when they are blended together.

The primary flavouring agent in your soup is the chicken broth. You can choose to make your own from bones and trimmings or opt for store-bought options available in cartons at the supermarket or vacuum packs in the frozen section.

The consistency of the pumpkin pulp can vary depending on the type of pumpkin. This variation will determine how much milk is required to achieve the desired thickness. To impart a silky richness that milk alone cannot provide, I have added a touch of cream.

When you are ready to serve your pumpkin soup, a final drizzle of cream not only enhances the flavour but also provides a visual cue of the luscious mouth-feel you can expect. Don’t forget drizzle of extra virgin olive oil for a burst of fruity freshness.

You may garnish with roasted pumpkin seeds to add a delightful crunch that complements the creamy soup.

PUMPKIN SOUP

INGREDIENTS

– One kilogramme (kg) pumpkin, peeled with seeds and strings removed

– One bulb garlic, unpeeled, split into two halves

– Two tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

– One teaspoon salt to taste

– One teaspoon black pepper to taste

– Five grammes (g) fresh thyme

– 125g unsalted butter

– One yellow onion, finely diced

– One litre chicken broth

– One to two cups whole milk

– One cup thick cream

Garnish

– Half cup thick cream

– A drizzle of extra virgin olive oil

– Half cup pumpkin seeds

– Fresh ground pepper

DIRECTIONS

Roast pumpkin seeds in a pre-heated 150 degrees Celsius oven for 15 minutes until crispy and lightly browned. Set aside to cool completely.

Peel pumpkin and remove seeds and strings. Cut the pumpkin into chunks and spread into a roasting pan with garlic. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

Strip thyme leaves from the stems and sprinkle all over the pumpkin and garlic, then scatter thyme stems over the top.

Roast in a preheated 250°C oven for 30 minutes, flipping every 10 minutes until soft and evenly caramelised.

In the meantime, melt the butter over medium heat in a heavy pot, then add the onions to saute until wilted before they start to brown.

Deglaze the pot with chicken broth and bring to a boil and simmer for about 30 minutes until the onion disintegrates.

When roasting is done, discard thyme stems and garlic husks. Add the roasted pumpkin and garlic pulp to the broth and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.

With an immersion blender, mash the pumpkin in the soup until smooth and creamy. Add milk a little at a time until the soup reaches the pouring consistency.

Bring to a boil, then adjust seasoning to taste and thicken with cream.

Ladle out the soup into serving bowls or soup plates, then garnish with a drizzle of thick cream and extra virgin olive oil, a sprinkle of roasted pumpkin seeds and fresh ground black pepper.

Serve immediately with crusty baguette and a slab of fresh butter. – Ian Lau

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