This is a relatively healthy recipe for those times you want to make a creamy soup without using any cream, milk or flour. Mine is a very basic recipe and there are none of the typical extra ingredients like cheese or onions. Pumpkin and Thyme are already the perfect pairing. Pumpkin is naturally sweet and is perfect for resetting the palete between courses. Thyme on the other hand will give a savoury identity to your soup, and do away with the impression of a mis-timed dessert. This soup can be served hot or cold.
- Pumpkin (1/2 of a small one)
- Chicken Leg with Thigh (1)
- Bacon (4 slices)
- Whole Grain Bread (2 slices)
- Chicken Cubes (2)
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Preparation (the night before, or in any case as early as possible)
- Cut your bread into large cubes and leave uncovered in the fridge overnight to dry them into croutons.
- Heat 4T of olive oil with 3t of thyme in a small pan. About one minute of heat after the oil gets hot should do. Allow this to cool and over several hours, the flavour of thyme will get infused into the oil while the thyme itself softens.
- The secret to pumpkin soup is a good quality stock. Put 4 cups of water to boil in a pot and then add the chicken leg (or an equivalent amount from another part of the chicken) and the 4 bacon slices. Simmer for at least an hour and leave covered to cool for several more.
Preparation (just before the meal)
- Your half pumpkin should be about the size of half a soccer ball. Slice it like a watermelon and then remove the pulp, seeds and skin. The skin is somewhat thick and hard to work with, so make your life easier by being generous when cutting the skin off. Make sure there is no tinge of green left when you are done because that part imparts a bitterness you want to avoid. Cut into large chunks. Some ladies might prefer to steam the pumpkin so the flesh of the pumpkin can be scooped out easily, but I find the direct approach more convenient.
- Discard the meat from your stock and put the pot to boil again. Stir in 2t of cumin. Add two chicken stock cubes followed by the pumpkin pieces once the stock cubes have melted. Add water such that the pumpkin is just covered and simmer for about forty-five minutes.
- When the pumpkin pieces are soft (see photo below), puree them in the pot using a hand-held blender with a puree attachment. If you don’t have a handheld blender, use a regular blender (and then buy a hand-held).
- Reheat, sprinkle in a few pinches of pepper and check for taste. Add salt if needed (not likely) or add water if the soup is too thick.
- Spoon your soup onto their serving plates, topping off with a few croutons each. Finally, drizzle on the thyme infused olive oil (including the thyme) and serve. Instruct your guests to stir before consumption.
- If you wish to go the extra mile, make a bit more of the thyme flavoured oil. Use the extra oil (lightly salted) to flavour your bread on both sides before cubing it.
- Cumin is the defacto spice for ‘sweet’ soups like pumpkin and carrot but if you don’t like a curry overtone, try nutmeg instead.
- A more meaty option is to cut the bacon into small bits and then pan fry them to melt the lard off. Add the bacon bits to the soup after the pumpkin is pureed and simmer for an additional 10 minutes. I prefer not to do this as the soup is more interesting if the diners do not know that bacon has been used to flavour your ‘vegetarian’ soup.
- If you really wish to impress – and this requires redundant hard work, you can serve a mixture of two puree soups in the same dish. I find that chestnut soup is a good match in terms of colour and texture. Its made in pretty much the same way and you can use the same stock for both batches. Add one soup to the soup dish first and then spoon the second carefully into the center to form a circle. Use the end of a fork or spoon to make interesting radiating patterns.