At this time of year, I’d quite happily live on soup.
I just have time to squeeze this post in before driving to Durham and the sparkling NEVFest (North East Vegan Fest). The first time that Jane and I have not been to a food festival this year together.
Durham is where all of my family are from and I’m very much looking forward to cooking and doing a talk in the Stadium of Light, the home of Sunderland AFC. For my sins, I support the red and whites. It will be quite surreal. I never imagined talking and cooking vegan in a football stadium but learnt recently that at least one professional football team in the UK has gone totally vegan, so maybe its not so strange. Lentil pies at half time with some miso broth. Yum! The future…..
You may think that the life of a food blogger is all hanging out by the fire, sipping a cheeky Oolong whilst leafing through a mountain of cookbooks, but it ain’t. We all have busy lives these days and posts are normally squeezed in somewhere or other. Janice (over at the sparkling Nourished by Nature blog) and I were just chatting about this the other day. Blogging is a labour of love for many of us and we are just crazy about food and sharing our foodie inspiration.
This is not helped by the fact that I am a complete luddite. I still do not have a phone (hence the lack of Instagram action) and only have a bulky laptop. I’m trying. But in reality, I am a techno caveman at heart. I like paper and pens, books and postcards. The occasional stapler. I do love sharing things online though and hope you enjoy these little recipes. I’ve met such a wonderful global community via the BHK. The internet is an AMAZING place!
I’ve been cooking with loads of squashes and pumpkins (actually pumpkins are members of the squash family) at Trigonos and at home. Our local organic veg farm Tyddyn Teg has been growing a wonderful variety of squashes; spaghetti, the mighty crown prince and even little acorns. Some are even larger than my head.
Squashes are perfect winter fuel, high in energy with loads (I mean loads!) of antioxidants and beta carotene. Just what our bodies crave and thrive on come the wintery months. In darker times, eat brighter foods! Squashes also store well, but I doubt they’ll be lasting very long around these parts.
When I say coconut cream I mean the cream in a tin of coconut milk. If your coconut milk contains emulsifiers and the like, it will not separate and therefore you cannot extract the cream.
To extract coconut cream from a tin of coco milk, simply place it in a fridge for a couple of hours, turn it over, open the tin and pour out the coco water. You are left with at least half a tin of very creamy coconut cream to play with. Try whipping it up with some lime zest and juice or just add a little sweetener to make delicious, vegan whipped cream. Use the leftover coco water in smoothies, on your morning cereal, add it to stews or even cook rice with it (one of our personal favs).
You may also like to use the hard, block variety of coconut cream. Just follow the pack instructions. Don’t worry about adding too much coconut cream to this soup, it will only make it even richer and more delicious.
ROAST YOUR OWN PUMPKIN SEEDS
I never waste my squash/ pumpkin seeds. I always pick them out and quickly roast them in the oven with a drop of oil and salt. Delicious! Just place them on a baking tray and bake them for 8 minutes on 180oC. Stir them and keep baking them for 5 minute intervals until they are dark golden and crisp. Its so easy and each type of squash seed will taste slightly different and have their own texture. Pumpkin seeds are nice and light, very crispy when roasted. Perfect as a soup-topper.
I love adding ginger to soups and a little kaffir gives a vibrant fragrance to the rich, sweetness of the pumpkin. You can use any type of squash here and you may like to half the recipe or freeze the leftovers. I think cooking in big batches makes loads of sense. We’ve also been experimenting with pumpkin smoothies and they are a real treat. A pumpkin chai latte smoothie is a thing of beauty and I’ll hopefully get around to sharing it soon.
Enjoy and stay cosy,
As I mentioned, experiment with different squashes, they are all wonderful and have properties of their own. Some sweet and firm, some lighter and slightly blander, others intense and wonderful roasted. There are so many varieties and this is still (just about) the time to enjoy them in season here in the UK.
You’ll need an extra big pan for this one. As I said, half the recipe for something a little more manageable.
The Bits – Makes 10 large bowls
1 medium pumpkin – 1.75kg (peeled and cut into rough 1 inch chunks)
1.5 litres water/ light vegetable stock
7 kaffir lime leaves
50-60g fresh ginger (peeled and finely diced)
2 onions (finely diced)
200g coconut cream
2 teas salt
In a very large pan, add 2 teas cooking oil, warm and then add your onions and salt. Fry on medium heat for five minutes until softened and then add your pumpkin, ginger and lime leaves. Stir well and cook for another two minutes, then add the water/ stock. Bring to a boil and pop a lid on, lowering the heat. Simmer for 15 minutes. Add the coconut cream, stirring well and simmer for another 10 minutes, adding more hot water if needed. The pumpkin should now be nice and soft.
Pick out as many lime leaves as you can. Taste the soup, checking for seasoning. Now give the soup a blend until creamy and smooth with a stick blender or in a food processor.
In warm bowls, scattered with freshly chopped chillies and some roasted pumpkin seeds. A little fresh coriander would also be a delight!
Pumpkins are a member of the gourd family, which means they are cousins to melons, watermelons, cucumbers, squashes.
Pumpkin seeds are an excellent source of anti-oxidants and minerals, they even contain a good amount of iron and of course, plenty of protein. Surprisingly China is now the worlds largest pumpkin seed producer. Who knew!