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Spicy Pumpkin Soup

Nov 25, 2010

Pumpkin-soup-2   
It might sound a little too pushy, combining a children's story and pumpkin soup but it is what pumpkin reminds me of really. Not Halloween, not Cinderella but this brutal bedtime story I was told when I was little. I remember my mom refusing to tell it to me on the gounds that this particular story was the reason for her deepest fears as a child. So read it if you have the time but forget it immediately before you pass it on to your younger ones.

At a winter night of school holidays, my grandma's sister, whose judgment of what constitutes a child's story was apparently less rigid, agreed to tell it to me. I cuddled in her bed to hear, from her feeble voice, the most heart breaking bedtime story I had ever heard.

"Once upon a time there was a little girl whose mother had passed away years ago and was living with her loving lumberjack father and her step mother. Her step mother was nice to the little one in the beginning, but as days passed by, she became more and more restless about the little girl's presence and complained about her husband's meagre income to support all three of them. Although the little girl consumed little and worked very hard around the house to make her step mother happy, the woman kept seing her as an obstacle. The step mother's greediness grew day by day, until one day she convinced her husband to get rid of the little girl. Although the poor man loved her daughter very much, he was blinded with the so-called love he had for his wife, he accepted her brutal proposal. And they came up with a plan..

Next morning, the father took the little girl to the woods. She hold her father's hand and walked, happy and excited to spend a day with him rather than staying home and helping her evil step mother. They walked and walked for hours into the deepest part of the woods until the little girl became exhausted. Her father told her to sit by a tree and wait for him while he goes and cut trees a little farther. The little girl obeyed and watched her father disappear into the woods.

As the father made sure he had disappeared from his daughter's sight, he found a pumpkin. He emptied its insides and hang it on a tree with a rope. When the wind blew, the pumpkin swang and hit the trunk of the tree producing the sound ding,ding,ding..... That sound, when heard from a distance, imitated the sound of an axe hitting a tree trunk. The father left the woods all together and left the little girl with the sound of the pumpkin going ding ding ding. The girl who kept hearing the sound felt safe and reassured thinking her father is cutting trees not far away.

But it started getting dark. Although she kept waiting for the sound to stop and her father to come and pick her up, the wind kept blowing and the pumpkin kept hitting the tree. "Still working, poor dad" she thought. The little girl decided to go next to his father instead. She followed the sound of the axe, so she thought, until she came by the tree with the pumpkin swinging from a branch. She went down to her knees and wept. And asked "little pumpkin going ding ding ding, tell me where my father has been been been..."

Not very amusing huh?

Ok enough of tragedy and back to real life. Where I found the recipe of the pumpkin soup is pretty unusual and unexpected. Although I had tried one recipe with a butternut squash from one of my decent cookbooks, it was far too sweet for my Turkish taste: another discouring attempt I never wanted resume ever again. I had completely forgotten about it until I was cruising through the very entertaining Videojug videos and found a squash soup recipe. I knew it was gonna be good as soon as I saw croutons coated with cinnamon. And I was right indeed. It made the best homey and warm winter soup I was longing for. I made a few changes like roasting the pumpkin in the oven to give it a smoked flavor. I obviously omitted maple syrup because to our Turkish taste, one soup too sweet is for desert not for the first course. If you like spicy I say don't be too stingy with the red pepper and garam masala.Pumpkinsoup30vivider

Spicy Pumpkin Soup

serves 4

Recipe adapted from Videojug

Ingredients:

  • 500 gr pumpkin, peeled, deseeded, cut into cubes of 5 cm/2 inches
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 100 ml cream
  • 500 ml chicken broth
  • 500 ml hot water
  • 1.5 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon powdered curry
  • 1 tablespoon garam masala
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • a pinch of chopped parsley
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • For the croutons:

  • 2 slices of whole grain bread
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • a pinch of nutmeg

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 180 C/350 F. Line your oven tray with grease proof paper and place pumpkins. Randomly, scatter pinches of butter on pumpkins. Bake for 30 minutes.
  2. While the pumpkin is baking, melt a tablespoon of butter in a soup pot. Sauté the onion for 7-8 minutes, until transclusent over medium heat.
  3. Add the garlic, powdered curry, garam masala and nutmeg. Give it a stir then add chicken broth, half of hot water and the baked pumpkins. Simmer for 20 minutes over medium heat.
  4. While the soup simmers, prepare the croutons. Preheat your oven to 150 C/ 300 F. Discard the edges of bread slices and cut them into 1 cm/0.5 inch cubes. Line the oven tray with a grease proof paper. Place bread cubes and sprinkle them with cinnamon and nutmeg and drizzle with olive oil. Shuffle with your hands to coat bread cubes with spices. Toast them in your preheated oven for 10-15 minutes.
  5. Pureé the soup with a hand blender. Add cream and stir. Add salt and pepper to taste. To my taste this soup tolerates more salt than I would expect so I added 2 teaspoons. Serve with chopped parsley and croutons.
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