Tag Archives: Soup

Pumpkin Soup topped with Bacon, Crème Fraîche and Toasted Seeds

Every Halloween I have to make something with pumpkin. I imagine I’m not the only one. It would be an absolute crime to buy a pumpkin for carving purposes and to throw away the insides! Well, not actually crime (as far as I know) but it would be very, very wasteful!

Last year I used mini pumpkins – munchkins – and stuffed risotto into them. This year I made pumpkin soup. Perfect for Halloween and also for any evening when you’re just too tired to chew! The pumpkin can be substituted with butternut squash if you’re not making this in October.

Utterly warming, soothing and delicious… it went down very well – and quickly!

Pumpkin Soup topped with Bacon, Crème Fraîche and Toasted Seeds
Serves 4

Ingredients
– 1kg pumpkin flesh (that’s about 1 medium or 2 smaller pumpkins)
– 7 tbsps olive oil
– 1 cinnamon stick
– ½ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
– 25g salted butter
– 1 large onion
– 500ml hot vegetable stock
– 6 tbsp crème fraîche plus extra for serving
– 160g smoked bacon lardons

Method
1. Preheat oven to 200°/Gas Mark 6/400° Fahrenheit. If you want to serve the soup inside a hollowed out pumpkin then cut the top off of it, scoop out the seeds and fibres from the middle and set aside the seeds for later. Using a knife and a spoon, scoop out the pumpkin flesh leaving around 1cm of flesh around the sides of the pumpkin.

2. Place the pumpkin onto a foiled baking tray and cover with 4 tbsps of olive oil. In a pestle and mortar, crush up the cinnamon stick as much as you can and scatter it across the pumpkin. Finally using a micro-grater grate the nutmeg onto the pumpkin as well. Season the pumpkin with salt and pepper and using your hands smoosh together all of the spices, seasoning and oil with the pumpkin. Roast in the oven for 35-40 minutes until tender and slightly browned.

3. When the pumpkin has been cooked take it out of the oven (leave the oven on though) and set aside, melt the butter in a large saucepan. Dice an onion and add to the saucepan. Fry for 10 minutes in the butter until soft. Add the pumpkin and then the stock and simmer everything together for 20 minutes.

4. Now it’s time to blend the soup! You can use a food processor or a hand blender. I used a hand blender with a small processing bowl and blitzed it in batches to get a smooth finish. Once processed, transfer to a smaller saucepan to warm through again. Add the crème fraîche and stir through, season to taste.

5. In a frying pan, add 1 tbsp of olive oil and fry the lardons until crispy. Scatter the pumpkin seeds onto a foiled baking tray, cover with a couple of tablespoons of olive oil and place in the oven for 7-10 minutes.

6. Serve the soup in individual bowls or inside the pumpkin you hollowed out earlier. Finish with a swirl of crème fraîche and a generous topping of seeds and bacon. I served my soup with some tiger bread as well, because as bread goes, with its crackled crust, this looks the spookiest for a Halloween soup! Then it’s just a matter of dipping, dunking and devouring!

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Chow Down

Along with some invaluable advice about her son (which I’ll spare you), my Mother-In-Law gave me a recipe for chowder. Apparently I’d need it. Turns out Mr B. is a chowder and general all-round soup fiend. Though I didn’t realise the extent until we took a trip to Boston. No sooner had we checked in were we out sourcing some New England Clam Chowder. Mr B. sniffed around like a bloodhound and found Quincy Market and a damn good Clam Chowder.

After my 3rd New England Clam Chowder of that trip, I realised that I was rapidly becoming a chowder fiend myself (not to mention 5lbs heavier). We got home needing more chowder, but sadly, you can’t just pick up clams from Sainsbury’s – at least not without spending a bomb. I turned to my entrusted recipe. I pimped it up a little and here it is!

I serve it in a bread bowl like the Americans. You can use sourdough or whatever bowl-like bread you can find. I have to issue a little warning though which is that the bread will soak up some of the sauce. Make sure you get as much of the inside out as you can but if you have a thing for saucy chowder then you might want to use a china bowl! You will lose a little sauce but you end up with chowder sodden bread (=yummy)! I’ll leave it up to you!

Smoked Haddock and Prawn Chowder
Serves 2 (Hungry People/Chowder Fiends)

For the chowder:
– 25g salted butter
– 1 onion, finely chopped
– 350ml whole milk
– 100ml water
– 4-5 Charlotte potatoes, sliced 0.5cm thick
– Salt
– Pepper
– 300g smoked haddock
– 100g canned sweetcorn
– 225g cooked prawns
– Bunch of Parsley, finely chopped

To serve (optional):
– 2-3 (or more depending on taste!) tablespoons double cream
– 100g Cheddar/Gruyere (or 50g of both)
– 2 large, round loaves of bread suitable for using as a soup bowl

Method
1. Put a saucepan on a medium heat and add the butter. Once melted, add the chopped onion and fry and stir for 5 minutes until really golden.

2. Add the milk and the water. When it starts to boil, add the potatoes. Leave to simmer for 10-12 minutes until the potatoes are softened.

3. Take the skin off of the pieces of haddock and chop it into small squares. Add it to the saucepan and cook for a further 8-10 minutes until the fish is flaky. Towards the end of the cooking time, add in the sweetcorn.

4. Meanwhile, if you are going to serve the chowder in a bread bowl you need to get it ready! Slice off the top and carefully rip out the innards as much as you can without going through the bread.

5. Add the prawns along with the parsley and cook for 5 minutes until the prawns are warmed though.

6. Ladle it out into your bowl, add a swirl of double cream and top with some cheese. All that’s left to do is to Chow Down!

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