The winter season is soup season ! I just love having a warming soup after a walk on Hampstead Heath on a cold winter’s day or after coming home from work, having frozen my feet off. And pumpkin soup is always a winner. I love pumpkins, they kind of look clumsy but have something magical at the same time and they are so tasty. Pumpkins come in all kinds of colours, shapes and sizes and are part of the winter squash family, which include butternut, acorn and spaghetti squash.
Like all orange coloured fruit and vegetables, pumkins are a super rich source of carotenes. Our clever body converts carotenes into vitamin A, which helps us maintain gorgeous and healthy skin and cell function. Pumpkins are also a good source of vitamin C, B1, B6 and folic acid, making them a fantastic immune boosting, cell building winter vegetable. Good levels of potassium support our body’s fluid and electrolyte balance and the fiber helps to keep our digestive system in good shape.
To me, my mum and my aunt are some of the greatest cooks I know, so a lot of my recipes are influenced by them. The following is an adaption of my mum’s famous pumpkin chili soup.
Pumpkin & Coconut Soup – Serves 3-4
1 medium sized Tom Fox pumpkin ( or any variety you can find) peeled & cubed
3-4 carrots ( peeled & slices)
2 shallots ( diced)
3-4 cm of ginger
1/2 small orange ( grated skin )
Vegetable stock ( enough to cover the pumpkin cubes & carrots well)
1 tbsp of coconut oil
1 can of coconut milk/cream
1 small dried chili or 1/2-1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp of turmeric
1 tsp of cumin powder
1cm vanilla pod ( optional)
Himalayan salt & pepper
Pumpkin seed oil ( optional)
Cut the pumpkin alongside the marks, so you ‘ll end up with pumpkin slices. Once sliced, it will be a lot easier to cut away the skin. If you can find a Hokkaido pumpkin you won’t need to peel off the skin, as it is edible. Remove the seeds but don’t throw them away as you can roast them in the oven and use as a nutritious garnish for the soup, add to a salad or nibble on as a snack. Just dry them off a bit, add some olive oil so they are lightly coated, season with ground cumin, Ras el Hanut or some Himalayan salt, spread on baking paper and bake at 180 degrees until crisp, keep turning during the process so they crisp up evenly.
Set the pumpkin cubes aside and peel and slice carrots and ginger, then also set aside. Heat the coconut oil in a pot add diced shallots, turmeric, cumin and ginger and sweat for a couple of minutes, taking the pot off the hob as the oil gets really hot and might burn the spices. Now add pumpkin and carrots and cook for a few minutes, keep stirring before adding the stock and the dried chili or chili powder. If you have some fresh vanilla pods you can add 2cm to the cooking process. Simmer until pumpkin and carrots are tender, this will only take about 15-20 minutes.
Whilst the soup is simmering, start preparing the orange and the coconut cream. Grate the skin of half of a small orange and set a side. Once the vegetables are tender, you can start blending the soup, adding some of the orange peel and the coconut milk during the process, keep on checking for taste, so you don’t add too much as it is always a bit tricky to correct. A hand blender will work fine but a food processor or proper blender make the soup a lot smoother. Once blended add salt and pepper for taste. To top you can add some toasted pumpkin seeds and or a drizzle of pumpkin seed oil, super yummy!