Sunday, 8 November 2009

Spicy Pumpkin Soup for Bonfire Night

With children in the house, celebrating Bonfire Night is essential and, contrary to the views of some, I think it's fun to join in with the spirit of the occasion whether you have children or not. So, last night, we donned coats and scarves just after dark, lit the barbecue and set off the pre-prepped pack of fireworks. The kids loved it and were in awe of their sparklers too.

On the food front, we went for a simple barbecue supper of Gloucester Old Spot sausages, baked jacket potatoes (with celeriac remoulade) and corn on the cob, but to start things off, we enjoyed bowls of steaming, spicy pumpkin soup - very seasonal indeed. Here's the recipe:

Spicy Pumpkin Soup (serves 4)

You will need:

1 medium sized pumpkin
Up to 2 pints fresh vegetable stock
1 red chilli
1 onion
5 large cloves unpeeled garlic (or fewer if you are not a big garlic fan)
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground turmeric
2 tbsps olive oil
4 tbsps chopped coriander
4 tsps dukka (optional)

And this is how you do it:

Pre-heat the oven to 2oo degrees C (400F or Gas Mark 6). Chop the pumpkin (no need to peel the skin). Add 1 tbsp of the olive oil in a baking tray and warm in the oven for one minute then add the unpeeled pumpkin chunks and unpeeled garlic cloves and roast for 20 minutes or until the pumpkin is soft and browned on the edges.

Meanwhile, chop the onion and fry on a medium heat in the remaining olive oil until soft. Add the chopped chilli and spices for the last couple of minutes. Remove the pumpkin and garlic from the oven and peel the skin from the garlic cloves - I love the roasted flavours in the soup. Place the garlic, pumpkin and onion/chilli mixture into a saucepan. Warm 1 pint of the vegetable stock, add to the vegetables and season with salt and pepper as desired. Simmer for 10 minutes. Then, using a hand blender, whizz the mixture until smooth. Add more vegetable stock, if necessary, to thin the soup.

The soup is ready to serve but I do find the flavours develop further if you leave it in the fridge overnight and reheat it the following day. To serve, add a tablespoon of chopped coriander and I like to add a teaspoon of dukka, a Moroccan spice mix which includes sesame seeds, coriander, cumin and chopped almonds.

To drink, I would normally go for a white wine that can cope with the spices - Aussie Riesling, New Zealand Pinot Gris or an Albariño from Rias Baixas in Spain - but, on this occasion we wanted something that would pair well with the sausages too. Our choice was a red Southern Rhône blend from Costières de Nîmes, an earthy, inexpensive and versatile wine that is a favourite in our house. A red Côtes du Rhône (same blend of grapes - Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre etc) would also work well in this instance.