Pumpkin soup. Perhaps the quintessential fall/winter food. That and casseroles.
But soup warms you from the inside out, like only tea does. Especially on days where the winter wind chills you to the bone.
Not that we have experienced particularly low temperatures at my latitude so far. To the contrary, it has been a fairly mild fall/winter.
But when temperatures will be dipping below freezing (much too soon unfortunately), we’ll all take refuge under warm blankets with a bowl of piping hot pumpkin soup.
By the way, has anyone tried eating soup literally under the blankets?
I don’t think it possible. You can barely move under the blankets; sure you can read, text or watch a movie on the iPad. But eating a bowl of soup? Not feasible. Unless you find pleasure in scalding hot soup on yourself.
Which got me thinking, maybe eating under the blankets is just one of those cliche’ things they do in movies.
Like the tree outside boyfriend’s or girlfriend’s house where said boyfriend or girlfriend can climb through. Or the love at first sight + kiss under the moonlight thing. Or convincing someone minutes before the wedding that you are the one they should really be with.
Or even worse: the mad and successful dash through airport security to talk to somebody, who you have a desperate to confess your love to.
That sort of things.
Truth is, you don’t need to be under the blankets to enjoy pumpkin soup.
Pumpkin soup comes in many guises: with curries, spices, loads of different flavours and vegetables. Most of them are delicious.
I like to add carrots to enhance the color and to give a further sweetness (it most certainly doesn’t take over the pumpkin flavour).
The spices complement the vegetables, without being overpowering.
The crispy pancetta and the fried sage add that je ne sais quoi that will make you sigh, even remind you of home (if you’re away) or bring back memories.
Roasting the pumpkin instead of boiling releases a lovely rich flavour, but if you want to boil it you can achieve a lovely result as well. The key is to blend it well until it’s like velvet, and to taste and season.
I recommend using small, sweet pumpkin varieties with a thick flesh and a fairly small seed cavity, such as the Sugar Pie, Baby Bear or Cheese pumpkin. Field pumpkins have a fibrous flesh that is not good for cooking. Instead of pumpkin, you can use kabocha squash, which has bright green skin marked with paler green stripes and pale orange flesh.
This pumpkin soup is yummy, creamy, and so velvety-smooth.
There’s nothing quite like pumpkin soup to warm up wet or cold days.
Note. This soup can be made in advance if needed. It always tastes better the next day too (keep leftovers in the fridge).
2 lbs / 900 gr pumpkin, peeled, deseeded, cut into ½-inch pieces
1 lbs / 453 gr carrots, peeled, cut into ½-inch pieces
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium onions, chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tablespoon mustard seeds
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
4 cups / 1 lt vegetable stock
2 cups / 500 ml water
Salt and pepper to taste
6 oz. / 170 gr pancetta, diced (if you can’t find pancetta, use good-quality bacon)
Handful sage leaves
Preheat oven to 400°F (200°C) and place a rack in the middle.
Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Place pumpkin and carrot pieces on the lined baking sheet. Drizzle over 2 tablespoons of oil and toss to coat.
Roast for 30-35 minutes or until golden and tender.
In the meantime, heat remaining two tablespoons of olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat.
Add onion, a pinch of salt and cook, stirring every now and then for 15 minutes, until soft and translucent.
Add garlic, mustard seeds, coriander, cumin and turmeric. Cook for 2 minutes, until fragrant (and mustard seeds start to pop).
Add roasted pumpkin and carrot pieces and give a good stir. Add vegetable stock, water, and bring to a boil.
Reduce to a simmer, cover with a lid and cook for 15 to 20 minutes. Turn off the heat and let cool for 15 minutes.
Using an immersion blender, puree the soup until smooth (alternatively transfer the pumpkin mixture in batches to the jug of a blender). Adjust the seasonings with salt and pepper. Add more stock if needed to reach the desired consistency.
Before serving, in a nonstick fry pan over medium heat, cook the pancetta, stirring occasionally, until the fat has rendered and the pancetta is browned and crispy, 8 to 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the pancetta to a paper towel-lined plate. Set aside.
Add sage leaves to the frying pan and fry in the rendered pancetta fat for 1 minute, until crispy. Transfer the fried sage pancetta to the paper towel-lined plate.
Divide soup among soup bowl, top with pancetta, fried sage and serve.