Sunday, 23 October 2011

Roast Pumpkin and Garlic Soup with toasted Pumpkin Seeds and Gruyere

We took a little trip over to the Lake District this weekend to check out its autumn colours. We were greeted by golden beech hedges, rain, mist and cows on the road that refused to move. It was a real stand off, they just stared us out and didn’t move one inch, which ended in us driving into a ditch to get past and very nearly getting stuck. I had visions of having to walk a mile in the rain to the nearest farm to get the car pulled out of a ditch... We made it in the end though and spent a lovely evening by the fire with the wind whistling around us. The next morning was bright and sunny and beautiful. You could hear the stags in the hills roaring at each other, hidden by the golden red bracken. The cows had helpfully moved out of the way for the drive home...


This month I have the privilege of a five page recipe feature in the magazine Living North. They asked me if I would put together a selection of Autumn recipes with hints of Halloween, so if you pick up a copy you can read about Toffee Apple Muffins, Roast Pheasant with Chestnuts and Wild Mushrooms, Dark Chocolate and Chestnut Tart, and this... Roast Pumpkin and Garlic soup with toasted Pumpkin seeds and Gruyère...


Preheat your oven to 220°C and begin by slicing the squash into eight wedges and scooping out the seeds. I find you can get a really good selection of squashes in the shops these days. This recipe works with pumpkins, butternut squash and all types of other squashes, I used an onion squash. The Halloween pumpkins that you find in the shops at this time of year are grown mainly just for carving and are not very full on flavour. The onion squash is a deep rich orange squash that looks a little like an onion... and is best roasted which brings out its earthy, nutty delicious flavours.

Place them all in a baking tray, season with salt and add a generous glug of olive oil, they tend to soak up quite a bit. They need to cook for about 30 minutes, but after 15 minutes throw in 6 cloves of garlic still in their skins and some sprigs of thyme and continue to roast, turning the squash around as you do.


While the squash is cooking dice a stick of celery, a carrot and an onion into small cubes, heat a large splash of olive oil in a heavy pan and add the vegetables. Add a large pinch of salt at this point and cook over a medium heat for about 15 minutes until soft and sticky, you don't want them to brown too much so keep an eye on them.


When they have reached a soft sticky stage add a litre of boiling water, you could also use vegetable stock if you wanted. Leave the stock to simmer until it is time to add the squash. The squash is ready when it is golden brown and soft all the way through, remove it from the oven and allow it to cool a little, make sure you keep the garlic too. When you can handle the squash you need to remove the skin and cut the flesh into large chunks and add them to the stock. Next remove the soft roast garlic from its skins and add these to the stock too. Check for seasoning at this point, you might have to add some more salt.

Allow everything to simmer for another 10 minutes. Finally blend everything to a smooth velvety soup, with either a hand-held blender or a food processor.

To serve top with a scattering of pumpkin seeds, lightly toasted in a dry pan and a grating of Gruyère cheese.

The nutty roasted flavours of the squash and the garlic are delicious with the crunchy seeds and creamy melted cheese. A bit of crusty fresh bread and cold butter makes a delightful autumn lunch...


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