Halloween season might be over, and while your jack-o-lantern might have started sagging to the point where it looks like a melted Donald Trump waxwork, pumpkins are here to stay. For a while anyway. In fact, for the next month or so supermarkets are going to be flooded with all variety of bulbous, misshapen squashes. It’s tempting to buy them all and turn your kitchen into a harvest festival-backdrop from your Nan’s charity calendar, but what can you actually do with them?
Soup, DUH. It’s the best thing to eat at this time of year; it’s pretty much cosiness in liquid form, and it’s perfect for using up all of the bits of veg that’s been lingering for the past two weeks while you’ve been put off cooking anything adventurous by mild onset SAD. Squashes have some kind of magical molecular make-up which means they’re the ideal base for a soup – cook until soft and blend them, and they turn into a beautiful creamy puree, without requiring any dairy or fat to emulsify them.
The trouble is, while a little bit of squash is just-so sweet in a pleasantly bland way, it doesn’t lend itself to sustained enjoyment, say, over the course of an entire bowl. Spoon after spoon of the same flavour and texture can turn into a test of endurance and determination. Miso and Pumpkin are often seen in the same dishes on Japanese menus – the fermented funk found in small doses of miso plays with the dull, deep sweetness of pumpkin and adds a layer of complexity to the flavour.
Being such a strong flavour, miso could easily overpower this dish if it was the only savoury element, so I’ve used 3 parts vegetable stock to 1 part miso to prevent this. Apart from that, the base of the soup is very traditionally british – onions, carrots, celery, and sweet potato – with some orange zest grated in towards the end of cooking to add brightness.
To introduce a bit of texture before serving, I topped the bowls of soup with translucent-thin slices of red onion and jalapeño which I’d pickled in the juice of that orange to sweeten that initial burn, and some crumbled salty cheese and toasted pumpkin seeds. This recipe makes about a 8-10 portions so you’ll be eating it for a while – feel free to get creative with the toppings and vary things up.
Pumpkin Soup Recipe:
- 1.5 litres Vegetable Stock
- 2 tbsp Miso Paste
- 500ml water
- 1 large, deseeded Pumpkin (or 2 tins of prepared Pumpkin)
- 3 Onions
- 4 Carrots
- 2 Celery sticks
- 2 Sweet Potatoes
- 4 Cloves of Garlic
- 1 deseeded Red Chilli
- Zest of 1 Orange
- 1 Thumb of Ginger, Grated
- Gently heat a good glug of olive oil in a large saucepan or stock pan.
- Add the crushed garlic and grated ginger and heat gently to release flavour into the oil, then stir in the miso paste until heated gently.
- Add the water and stock and bring to a gentle simmer.
- Add all of the vegetables, roughly chopped, and simmer for around 30-45 minutes (if you're using tinned pumpkin, leave this out until a later stage)
- When the vegetables are tender, blitz with a food processor until everything's smooth, (if you're using tinned pumpkin, stir it in now) and add back to a gentle heat and grate in the zest of one orange.
- Remove soup from the heat as soon as it begins to simmer.