Autumn is in full swing. The days are now noticibly shorter, the temperatures much lower and the transition into winter is imminent. It is my favourite time of the year. I do not care much for hot weather, nor cold food. I am in heaven.
The shorter days, the cozy fireplace at the end of a long day with a glass of red wine.
The food...oh my God, the food. Comforting, delicious and satisfying. The aromas fill the house and transport me back to my childhood. Soups, stews and roasts are the essence of the Portuguese table.
In fact, in Portugal, there isn't one household who doesn't eat soup daily, no matter what season.
Pumpkin is a very popular addition to many Portuguese soup recipes. It can be the main ingredient or simply added for colour. As we here in Britain get over Halloween, with hundreds of thousands of lovely pumpkins finding their way into landfills, I offer you a delicious recipe. For my fellow Americans, the pumpkin tureen makes a spectacularly beautiful serving vessel for your Thanksgiving table.
So hollow out your pumkins and use the flesh to get cooking. Why not cut it up and freeze it? That way it's available to throw into any soup whenever your heart desires. Don't forget the yummy seeds, they can be toasted and tossed in to many dishes.
Pumpkin and Carrot Soup with Beans and Broccolini in a Pumpkin Tureen
1 Large pumpkin or similar gourd, I used a white "ghost" pumpkin to use as a decorative tureen.
For the soup:
60 ml. Extra virgin olive oil, plus more to serve
2.5-3 litres of water, chicken or vegetable stock
800 g. Carrots, peeled and cut into chunks*
600 g. Potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
400 g. Pumpkin, peeled and cut into chunks
300 g. Broccolini, whole
300 g. Canned beans, any variety ( I used Red kidney, Black and Chick peas )
1 Large onion, quartered
1 Garlic clove, whole
1 Turnip, peeled roughly chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
* cut vegetables to the same size for even cooking
Begin by cutting top of pumpkin with a sharp knife. Remove seeds and flesh by scraping with a spoon. Cut a wedge in centre of lid so that it can hold decoratively as in picture below.
With help of a large metal spoon, scoop out as much as you can so it looks clean like this.
1. In a large stock pot, add olive oil, onion and garlic and sauté on low, until onions are softened, but not browned.
2. Add all the vegetables to pot except beans and broccolini. Begin adding stock or water until it just covers vegetables. You may or may not use all the stock. It depends on height and width of your pot. This amount of stock to vegetables ensures the perfect consistency when you pureé later. As in picture below, water is just barely covering vegetables, while the broccolini sits on top. Now carefully arrange the whole broccolini on top of the vegetables like photo below. Do not stir. Cover pot and cook on medium heat for 10 mins. After 10 minutes, remove broccolini to a bowl and set aside.
3. Cover soup and continue to cook for another 25 minutes. Vegetables should be tender when pierced with tip of a knife. Turn off heat.
Using an emersion blender, pureé soup until creamy. If you feel it is too thick, add a bit of water or stock.
4. Add beans to pureed soup and cook on low heat stirring often and uncovered, for another 10 minutes.
5. Cut reserved broccolini and add to soup.
To serve, pour into hollowed out pumpkin. Ladle into bowls, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil. I like to cut some bread on the diagonal drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with Pecorino Romano cheese and place under my oven's grill, until they're nice and toasted.