Today’s harvest: Pumpkin – kindly offered by my awesome neighbor!
Every blogger or food website present on the net probably has a Pumpkin or root vegetable purée soup amongst their most-clicked recipes.
The variations are countless: spiced, with spiced veggies added, with yoghurts, creams etc etc. They are all delicious.
But this one, which is so plain and simple, is still my favorite. And, apparently, not only mine.
This soup has, in fact, made me feel proud in more than one occasion, though I do not think it is thanks to any of my talents in preparing it; rather, thanks to the natural appreciation we tend to have for simple, flavorful meals that do not overwhelm out minds.
One of the long-time fans of this soup is a kid my mom used to babysit when she was smaller. Her mom gave her little to no food education, which resulted in her being an extremely picky and limited eater. Even today, at 14, that girl only eats pizza, ham toasts, plain pasta, and this soup.
We would cook it for her with all kinds of vegetables: one day it was asparagus, the other carrots, leeks, pumpkin, or peas – it didn’t really matter, she loved it and she ate and enjoyed every spoonful of it.
So this is not only one of my childhood favorite, but a favorite of most kids I know. A great way to get them to down some serious vegetables, to say the least. I love how this soup is proof that, if you put a little care and attention in preparing even the simplest things for your children, they will feel your enthusiasm and go along with it.
The other occasion that made this soup shine was when I moved into a new apartment in Williamsburg. The first day I got there, my roommate didn’t have any dinner yet, and she kept thinking what she could assemble with whatever she had around the house.
“I have these,” she said, as she produced a nice bunch of parnsnips from the fridge. “They’re from our farmer’s box, but they have been sitting there a while and I have no idea how to use them up.”
When I suggested we made root soup, she said she had never heard of such a thing before and I could not believe it. We whipped up this parsnip soup together and she said it was the best soup she ever had.
so especially now that we are preparing for christmas festivities and libations – and some of us not without worry, few things seem more appropriate than this simple soup. As you can see, it is highly customizable, child-friendly and open to many garnishes. I like to add some spelt or barley to mine. The one I present to you is a pumpkin-carrot soup, but you can add more veggies to the onion, oil and potato base. In the same way, you can make a super smooth purée out of this or leave it slightly chunkier. You can freeze it, make multiple batches of it and have it for any meal you like. Plus, it’s great, tasty diet food. A true weekday saver.
The version in the picture below is with brown basmati rice, lentils, parmesan and extra virgin olive oil.
Creamy Pumpkin Purée soup.
(serves about 4)
1 Medium Onion
1 Small Potato or Sweet potato
1 tbsp of butter (optional)
1-2 tbsps of oil, depending on wether you used the butter or not
Vegetable stock, as needed to cover the veggies
2 fat cloves of garlic (optional, I usually don’t add them)
2 Medium carrots
A nice chunk (about 400g cleaned) of Pumpkin of your choice
Add-Ons: Orzo (barley), Lentils, Farro (spelt), Black or Brown rice, Quinoa, or any other grain or non-grain you like!
Parmigiano and Extra virgin olive oil, to garnish.
- If using grains or cereals that need to be soaked beforehand, make sure you prepare in advance!
2. Cook your add-ons on the side. They will be added at the very end.
3. Clean all the vegetables, and cut them into chunks of roughly the same size.
4. Add the olive oil and butter to a pot and stir fry the onion chunks, along with the potato, for 5 minutes. Add the other vegetables and cook, making sure that nothing sticks for another couple of minutes.
Add enough stock to cover everything by an extra inch and cook, half-covered and on medium-low, until everything is very tender. This time could vary depending on how big your chunks are and how old the veggies are. My soups usually take 25 to 30 minutes, but the old parsnips took over 45 minutes. Check the soup every now and then to make sure the liquid doesn’t reduce too much. If it does, add more stock. It should still be quite soupy at the end.
5. When everything is done, purée with an immersion blender or in a food processor until everything is smooth. Stir in your cooked add-ons, and serve hot on bowls. Garnish with your favorite topping. I like mine with a sprinkling of parmigiano, and maybe a few more drops of good oil.
MAKE IT VEGAN
Use only olive oil in the stir fry, and you could try the coconut milk version below!
MAKE IT GLUTEN FREE
Make it with rice, or other gluten free ‘grains’ like quinoa or rice.
OTHER VEGETABLES TO USE
- Parsnips, or roots of sorts: a mix of roots is gorgeous for this soup. Parsnip along with carrot, rutabaga, celeriac, or other flavorful ones. You can even cook them in an oven first.
- Peas and Asparagus: These make a gorgeous spring soup. Best of all, there’s nothing wrong with using frozen!
- Leeks: Leek soup is my favorite variation of this soup. Substitute two whole trimmed leeks for the carrots and pumpkin in the recipe.
MORE ADD-ONS AND GARNISHES
You can really go crazy here, but here’s a few examples:
- Coconut: You could use coconut oil instead of the olive oil and butter and maybe add a bit of coconut milk to the soup.
- Spices: Cinnamon and nutmeg go great with pumpkin, but a curry version of this soup would be heavenly, too!
- Caramelized onions: Because they are good on top of EVERYTHING.
- Ricotta, Yogurt or dairy
- Miso, instead of the stock, to be dissolved in water towards the end
- Crusty, toasted Italian or French bread. Not that sandwich bullcr*p. Bread is not the best thing for our silhouette so if you eat it, do it with style.
And many more! Let me know if you have your personal variations and favorites of this velvety soup. I’d love to hear about them and try them all!
Next variation for me will probably be lentils and yellow curry, with pumpkin and sweet potatoes.