Saturday, 24 November 2012

Pumpkin soup

I am particularly fond of the word pumpkin (two plosives plus diminutive kin). I also love the look of a pumpkin or, better still, a heap of pumpkins, like the one outside Hagrid's hut in "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban". To eat by itself, however, the pumpkin is a bland, slightly stringy, wet vegetable. To turn it from a sandy flavourless soup into a velvety soup worth eating on a cold night demands onion, curry powder, cream and time. There are probably those who would disagree, do without the curry powder or make a pumpkin pie instead.

2 oz butter.
1 onion, finely-chopped.
2 tablespoons Bolst's Curry Powder (or whatever you prefer).
1 lb pumpkin, peeled, seeded and chopped into small dice.
3/4 lb potatoes, peeled and chopped.
1 tin chopped Italian tomatoes.
2 pints chicken stock.
1/2 pint double cream.
Salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Some chives and/or croutons if you have them.

1. Melt the butter in a large saucepan.
2. Add the onions and allow to soften for about 5 minutes.
3. Shortly afterwards, add the curry powder. Allow to cook slowly, without either burning.
4. Add the pumpkin and cook over a gentle heat for another 5 minutes.
5. Add the potatoes and stir on a low heat for about 15 minutes.
5. Add the tin of tomatoes, followed by the stock, the salt and FGBP.
6. Simmer until everything is tender (about one hour).
7. Allow to cool slightly then sieve or blend.
8. Return the soup to the pan (a few exciting scraps of unsieved soup left behind won't do any harm) and stir in the double cream.
9. Re-heat and eat. A few chives or croutons sprinkled on top are rather good.

Final thought: this is not soup to eat while watching "Halloween 3: Season of the Witch". I have, however, served this for a Halloween party. My friend Vicki Telling used the pumpkin shell to create a clever effect: my face amalgamated with Harry Potter's in a wizard's hat through which a lit candle shone. It was on the same occasion when her husband Richard Worth crept upstairs to change into his monk's outfit and came down in the dark bearing another candle. He caused quite a stir. A Tale Worth Telling.

This recipe is based on two taken from a little orange book called "Pumpkins, squashes and things......and how to cook them". Neither recipe has any curry powder to be seen. I am dedicating my version to my cousin Olivia Weiss who was born on 31 October!

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