It's Almost Time to Make Pumpkin Soup!

Halloween pumpkin head jack lantern with burning candles over wooden background

When I was a kid, we always used a big knobbly turnip to make the scary lantern we carried from door-to-door (rehearsing our little song or poem along the way - nobody got away with simply telling a joke back then!) in the hope that we would get some sweets, a tangerine, a few monkey nuts and maybe even a few sixpenny bits for our efforts!

What a relief it is now that we have generally accepted the American habit of using a pumpkin rather than a turnip as they were mighty hard to scoop out and carve!

And of course, the huge advantage here is that all that pumpkin flesh you laboriously scoop out can be turned into a deliciously spicy soup, a warming curry or a mash!

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Super-Smooth Pumpkin and Sage Soup

(makes 4 bowls)

Boy is this good - my resident soup tasters have given it top, top, top marks! I started using sage when roasting pumpkin and/or squash in the oven and decided that it was such a great marriage that it was time to experiment and make a soup that celebrates this perfect pairing and not only is it a delight to look at with the chilli and sage topping but it also tastes divine!

Ingredients

1 red chilli, de-seeded and very finely diced
10 sage leaves, finely sliced (4 for the topping, 6 for the soup)
Light olive oil
500g pumpkin flesh - just chop it up - doesn't matter how roughly! 
500mls chicken or vegetable stock
1 medium onion, peeled and very finely sliced or diced
Pinch of sugar
1 level tablespoon cornflour
150mls double cream
50g soft butter
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
Sea salt
White pepper

Method

  • Sauté the chilli and 4 of the sliced sage leaves in a little olive oil until both are slightly crisp around the edges then remove from the pan to a small plate, cover and set aside. 
  • Sauté the pumpkin in 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a medium-sized soup pot until lightly coloured and ever-so-slightly caramelised.
  • Add the stock, onion and sugar, bring slowly to the boil, quickly turn the heat to very low and simmer for 15 minutes before turning off the heat and allowing the soup to cool a little.
  • In a bowl, mix the cornflour into the cream and whisk until smooth then very gradually add to the pot, stirring all the time.
  • Bring the soup very slowly back to the boil, stirring continually until it slightly thickens then turn off the heat and stir in the rest of the sage.
  • Transfer the soup to a blender with the butter and lemon juice and whizz until really smooth and frothy then return to a clean pot (through a fine sieve), season to taste with salt and white pepper and very gently reheat until piping hot.
  • Serve with the chilli/sage topping.
  • NB: white pepper powder is a great deal more pungent than black pepper so watch how you go - add it pinch by pinch until you are happy with the result!

This Book Is A Must-Read!

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I read Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think by the brilliant Brian Wansink a few years ago and was blown away by some of the creatively-clever and often mischievous experiments he and his colleagues in the Food and Brand Laboratory at Cornell University played on often-unsuspecting 'victims' to prove how mindless we can be when choosing what and how much we eat! Being a soup aficionado the Bottomless Soup Bowl Study was my all-time favourite!

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And now he is back with Slim By Design: Mindless Eating Solutions for Everyday Life which reveals a great deal more and is a fascinating read... here are a couple of his observations from the book...

"For 90 percent of us, the solution to mindless eating is not mindful eating - our lives are just too crazy and our willpower’s to wimpy. Instead, the solution is to tweak small things in our homes, favorite restaurants, supermarkets, workplaces and schools so we mindlessly eat less and better instead of more. It’s easier to use a small plate, face away from the buffet and Frisbee-spin the bread basket across the table than to be a martyr on a hunger strike. Willpower is hard and has to last a lifetime. Rearranging your life to be slim by design is easy.... 

This book is about solutions - concrete, actionable solutions that my Lab has developed, tested, analyzed and tweaked in dozens of towns across the United States and abroad. This book shows how you can help your kids eat better, control your eating at restaurants, shop like a slim person and eat less at home without having to think twice. In other words, it specifically shows how you can help yourself and your family become slim by design. But equally important, this book will show you how to get all of these places and people around you to help."