As winter’s fug enrobes us this week like a damp icy blanket, all over Sydney cooks are turning to their favourite recipe books, searching for the formula to make a perfect pumpkin soup.
That’s not just my impression, in fact pumpkin soup shot to the top of Google’s recipe search last week, as we Sydneysiders battled Jack Frost.
You’ll find all manner of heirloom secrets espoused for making a delicious pumpkin soup – some are apocryphal, while others really do work. But at the heart of the idea lies three simple rules.
Firstly, you will need to use a great pumpkin. While every cook will have their own view on which variety should be selected, most chefs concur that Butternut, Kent of Queensland Blue are the best starting point for a sweet and rich soup.
Secondly, you’ll need some good technique. The best soups usually involve roasting the pumpkin first, for that little bit of caramelisation and a concentrated taste. What’s more, ditch the olive oil and reach for the butter – it may not be as heart-healthy but nothing replaces that traditional flavour.
Lastly, don’t overcook it. I was recently at a dinner where the hostess proudly announced that she was serving her 12 hour pumpkin soup. It sounds great in theory, but the practice leaves it wanting. You see, unlike meats, vegetables quickly reaches their maximal flavour point when they are in a liquid form, and from that point the taste wanes and loses some of its complex layering.
So grab a Butternut, fry you onions until golden in butter, then mix in your roasted pumpkin, chicken stock and a bay leaf, then simmer for no more than an hour. Purée, then serve.
Simple, effective, unbeatable. Now that’s the basis for a family heirloom recipe of your own!