Time for nostalgia, and pumpkin soup.
When holidays for Uni roll around, especially 3 weeks worth, I check most of the emails I get, even the ones I normally wouldn’t. That includes e-newsletters from my old high school. This afternoon I opened it up, excepting to do my usual scoff and oo-er as a few familiar surnames registered as scholarship winners. Instead, however, I started to get all teary eyed. I felt like I’d been away for too long, almost like a home-sick puppy wondering when it would finally be able to go see its mummy again, but somehow knowing that it never would. Not that I can’t see the black gates and red bricks again, but in any case, it’s not the buildings I miss. I think it’s that stage in my life when it’s actually beginning to dawn on me that I have to actually take care of myself, that if the cleaning doesn’t get done, it’s never going to get done. And hey, my flatmates are, comparatively speaking, great at doing dishes. No, it’s not just the cleaning. It’s the certainty that someone is going to be there, and that you’ll know and trust them to do it well, that I miss. It’s the familiarity and feeling of community with everyone around you, that deeper, fundamental understanding and common sense of knowing, deep down, what’s right. Even if they’re little things, like how the toilet seat should bloody sit (can you tell I went to an all girls school?!), or bigger things, like what you really mean when you say things. Even though I didn’t like everyone at high school, there were just so many things that were obvious to everyone, but at Uni, the person sitting next to you could be 35, have kids, be in a totally different mindspace. So there’s no attempt to reach out, and the cycle of unfamiliarity just continues. And with that simmering away in the depths of my brain, I shall attempt to bring you a recipe for a pumpkin soup I made the other day.
If you’re feeling anything like me, and noticing the chill outside (Autumn is here!), then I hope this is of some comfort to you. It’s fairly simple, and certainly great to curl up with (paired with a plate piled high with fresh bread). The soup photo is awful I know, but hey, I was hungry!
serves 3 with bread, 2 without bread
1/4 small pumpkin, peeled and chopped into 2cm cubes
3 Tbs butter
1 tsp thyme
1 onion or equivalent leek, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 stalks celery, finely chopped (or substitute with more pumpkin if you prefer)
1c vege stock
salt and pepper to taste
3 Tbs sour cream
In a large frypan, melt 2/3 of the butter on medium heat, and add pumpkin, salt, pepper, and thyme. Cover, and cook 2 mins until underside is browned. Uncover, flip, add thyme, add a little water if the pan is dry, cover, and cook a further 2 mins. Uncover, add onions or leek, stir, add a little water if the pan is dry, cover, and cook another 2 mins. Uncover, add garlic, stir, cover, and cook another minute. Uncover, check pumpkin is fully cooked and soft (putting a fork through should be very easy), and transfer mixture to a large saucepan.
Add the last third of the butter and the celery, and mash with a potato masher (or you can whizz it all in a food processor, which is what I did). Turn heat for the saucepan on medium. Add stock to the frypan to sort of clean out the last bits and pour into the saucepan. Stir to bring the stock to the bottom, to prevent the whole mixture from sticking. Bring the mixture to a simmer, then turn heat down to medium low. Add more water or stock to bring it to the consistency you want, then keep simmering for a further 3 minutes (just enough to cook the celery). Add the sour cream and more water if by the end of the 3 minutes you think it’s too thick. Taste, season further with salt and pepper if desired, and serve with more dollops of sour cream and a few sprigs of fresh thyme.
This soup is fantastic with bread to dip into – try this basic (one rise time only) focaccia that takes very little time to cook, and you can replace the spring onion with thyme. It doesn’t matter how long the initial rise time is either really, so you can whip the dough up in the morning in 5 minutes, then just shape it out and put it straight in the oven before you make the soup. Ta da!