Pumpkin soup is to Australia what tomato soup is to Britain and appears on menus everywhere, from neighbourhood cafes to Michelin-starred restaurants. Butternut squash works just as well in this recipe, or try kabocha or Crown Prince. This velvety, naturally creamy soup keeps well for a day or two in the fridge.
FOR THE SOUP:
- 1.3kg pumpkin or squash, peeled and cut into 2-3cm chunks (you want 850g flesh)
- 200g banana shallots, skin on, halved lengthways
- 1 small head garlic, skin on top centimetre sliced off
- 3 sprigs rosemary
- 2 teaspoons dried chilli flakes (optional)
- 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 750ml good chicken or vegetable stock, extra if needed
FOR THE GARNISH:
- 3 tablespoons pumpkin seeds
- 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 100g crumbly goats' cheese; toasted pumpkin-seed oil (optional)
- Heat the oven to 180˚C/fan oven 160˚C/mark 4. Scatter the pumpkin in a large roasting tin with the shallots, garlic-cut-side down - rosemary, chilli (if using), olive oil and seasoning to toss to coat in the oil. Roast for 45 minutes until mostly tender and golden in places, but not too browned - if it starts to brown, cover with foil. For the garnish, toss the pumpkin seeds on a baking tray with the olive oil and toast in the oven for 5 minutes.
- When the pumpkin is ready, remove the rosemary - reserve for a garnish unless blackened - and squeeze the softened garlic shallots from their skins into the roasting tray, discarding the skins. Heat the stock in a saucepan large enough to fit the pumpkin, then add the contents of the roasting tray and simmer for 15-20 minutes. Blend to a smooth purée using a stick blender, thinning with more hot stock if necessary. Alternatively, cool slightly and blend in batches in a jug blender or food processor (a processor won't give as smooth a result).
- Reheat gently to serve, season and ladle into warm bowls. Crumble over the goats' cheese and scatter with pumpkin seeds. If using, break over the crisp rosemary needles and drizzle with a little pumpkin-seed oil.
To drink: To go with the sweetness of the pumpkin and spiciness of the chilli, try a lively fruity wine, such as a New World Sauvignon, a Gewürz-traminer, or a dry or off-dry Riesling: Jim Barry The Lodge Hill Riesling 2012, from South Australia, £9.99, The Co-operative. Wine details correct at original magazine publication date.
From the November 2013 issue of House & Garden. Recipe by Louisa Carter; photographs by Helen Cathcart; food preparation & styling by Bridget Sargeson; wine recommendations by Joanna Simon; table styling by Alexander Breeze.
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