It’s been a while, I know. Let’s just say I’ve been very busy. (My mother would say lazy, but we won’t split hairs). But Truefoodie is back, and this time she’s trying something new. Well, a little bit new – all posts will now be featuring photography by the lovely Oli (who happens also to be my chap). Bear with us – Oli is new to food photography, and I am new to food styling in my kitchen, in the dark, with a load of Ikea crockery. But we’ll get there.
For my first post back, I thought I’d talk about pumpkins (and squash). Since the beginning of the summer, Kew Gardens has been running an exhibition called the IncrEdibles, and yesterday we inadvertently walked into its last day. The exhibition – showcasing the exceptional variety of food grown around the world – had moved on to an autumnal theme for its last incarnation, and we were fortunate to be some of the very last people to see the absolutely breathtaking pumpkin house before it was dismantled.
I knew that pumpkins and squash came in lots of different shapes and sizes, but I had no idea how vast the family actually was. And they all have such fantastic names – crown of thorns, turk’s turban, sweet dumpling, potiron tristar triamble (I’m not making this up)… Fortunately for us, it being the last day of the exhibition they were selling all these beauties off, so after a quick google consultation with Sarah Raven, I bought a crown prince, a rouge vif d’Etampes, a kabocha and two munchkins. (I am still not making this up…) The munchkins were too gorgeous to chop up, so they’re going to be varnished and displayed somewhere. I have yet to work out where.
The rest I chopped up, skin and all, deseeded and roasted in olive oil until golden, caramelised and sticky. Half of it went into a salad last night, with coriander, basil, toasted macadamias, pomegranate molasses, rocket and goat’s cheese, and the other half I made into this rather nice soup this evening.
Because the pumpkins were already cooked, I don’t have a raw weight for them, but I reckon that one decently sized butternut squash would about cover it if you can’t get anything more exotic. Just roast whatever you have, and any leftovers can be frozen or chucked into a salad. The choice of cream is up to you – I used clotted cream because it was what we had, but double, crème fraiche, yogurt or even cream cheese would all work well. It’s a midweek supper – there are no rules to it.
Serves 4 as a starter or 2 for dinner, with a portion leftover to freeze for a solitary supper
Drizzle olive oil
2 onions, roughly chopped
2 eating apples (I used braeburns), peeled and roughly chopped
350g (cooked weight) roasted pumpkin or squash
1ltr vegetable or chicken stock
About 2 tsp grated horseradish (English Provender is a good make)
2-3 tbsp of something creamy (see above), plus extra to serve
Spring onions and chilli flakes, to serve
- Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan and when warm, add the onion with some sea salt. Cook for 5-6 minutes over a medium heat, until the onion has softened – it shouldn’t colour. Add the apple, and cook for another 5 minutes or so, until everything is very soft but still uncoloured.
- Add the pumpkin and the stock, bring to a gentle simmer and cook, covered, for around 5 minutes, until the apple is completely cooked. Remember the pumpkin is already cooked, so don’t overdo it.
- Add in the horseradish, season very generously, then blend until smooth. Check the seasoning and horseradish and adjust accordingly. Transfer back to the wiped out pan and heat until just simmering. Stir through the cream, check the seasoning again and ladle into bowls. If you want to do a fancy drizzle on top, let the cream down with a little water until pourable and spoon over the soup. Scatter with spring onions and chilli, and serve. If you want to vary the topping, chopped parsley, toasted nuts, or some julienned pieces of apple would all be lovely.