What's not to love about pumpkins? I love their bright color, their versatility (you can use them in sweet and savory dishes) and it's also fab that they just happen to be pretty healthy! Pumpkins are chock-full-of fiber, beta-carotene and B vitamins. Their seeds provide zinc, protein, iron and plenty of good fats, so when you buy a pumpkin, it's like getting two treats in one!
Unfortunately, my family isn't as enthusiastic about pumpkin as I am. Especially Kirstie. When she saw me buying the pumpkins at the local harvest fair this weekend, she was already complaining and making sure that I knew she did not agree. Hans isn't particularly fond of pumpkins either (he doesn't necessarily hate them) but he trusts my culinary skills and happily eats what I make.
Before you think I am a meanie mommy for bringing something into the kitchen which I know my daughter will hate, let me just say that I strongly believe it takes a while for a child to learn to accept a food. At least ten tries, maybe even more. By giving in and saying she doesn't have to eat something I make, I feel as though I'm cheating her and not giving her (or the food) a fair chance. She doesn't have to finish everything on her plate, but she does have to try. And, no way in heck will I cook separately for her!
Well, Kirstie happened to lick her bowl clean yesterday. A nice, hearty bowl of bright orange pumpkin soup! Hans loved it as well and I'm sure you will too. I've made a similar pumpkin soup before, but with this one, I decided to roast the pumpkin instead, which means a longer cooking time, but only as far as roasting the pumpkin is concerned. Once that's done, it's just a matter of scooping it out of its skin, adding it to a pan with gently sweated onions, red chillis and finely chopped sage, and then letting it cook for just ten minutes in some chicken broth.
The sage in this recipe, by the way, comes straight from my garden. That little sage plant which we bought in the spring has done a marvelous job at growing beautifully green, aromatic leaves. It requires very little attention, so if you're just getting started with growing your own herbs, this might be a good one to start with.
But back to the soup...
It makes a lovely first course to a seasonal dinner, but you can also serve it as a main dish like I did. Just make sure you have some bread, a cheese board with some chutney and perhaps a plate with assorted cold meats.
Spicy Roasted Pumpkin Soup with Sage, Caramelized Onions and Bacon
1 kilo pumpkin (I used two small ones), halved and deseeded
4 cloves of garlic, bruised
mild olive oil
2 large, red onions, sliced
1/2 small white onion, finely chopped
8 medium-sized sage leaves, chopped
1/2 red chilli pepper, deseeded and finely chopped
800ml good chicken stock
sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
6 slices of bacon
Preheat the oven to 200C. Cut the pumpkins in half and place them on a lined baking sheet. Place the bruised garlic in the centers of the deseeded pumpkins. Drizzle with olive oil and season with sea salt and plenty of freshly-cracked pepper. Roast the pumpkin for 45 minutes. After that, make sure to let them cool before you get on with the rest of the recipe.
While the pumpkins are roasting, get your caramelized onions going. Warm up 4 tbsps of olive oil, add the sliced onion and season with salt and pepper. Cook them first over a medium-high fire and then reduce the heat. Let them cook for about 40 minutes, stirring every now and them. Once they are to your liking, drain them on paper towel.
For the soup, in 1 tbsp of olive oil, gently sweat the white onion, chilli and sage for about 5 minutes. Scoop out the cooled pumpkin flesh and add to the pan. Squeeze the roasted garlic into the pan as well. Cover with the chicken stock, season with salt and pepper and allow to cook over a medium heat for 10 minutes. In the meantime, fry the bacon, drain and crumble. Once the soup is cooked, blitz it so that it's nice and smooth.
Serve the soup with the caramelized onions and the bacon. Garnish with a pretty sage leaf and enjoy!