Bowl of warmth ... Lynne Mullins' cauliflower soup with chilli sourdough croutons (recipe below) Photo: Marco Del Grande
I've made two batches of soup in the last week. The cold weather followed me from Melbourne to Sydney and triggered something in my subconscious. My freezer is full to bursting now which has certainly made lunches and dinners easier this week, particularly on those busy days.
I let the contents of my pantry and fridge be my guide this time, rather than being recipe-led. Soup is a great way to use up those sad looking vegetables lurking in the back of the crisper. Add some lentils, beans or pasta and you've got a substantial meal. Seasonal vegetables like pumpkins and cauliflowers lend themsleves very nicely to soups and I had both in the fridge, half-used and in need of a vehicle. And don't throw those parmesan rinds out. I added a recently grated-down end to the puy lentil and vegetable soup I made on Tuesday and it imparted a lovely savoury flavour. They're good to have on hand for minestrone too, just hold back on the salt until you've tasted it at the end, and fish the rind out before serving (although sometimes it melts).
My go-to recipe for soup is pumpkin. It's a childhood favourite, the very epitome of comfort food for me - I still request it from my mum when I visit her from interstate. She uses the Australian Women's Weekly pumpkin vichyssoise recipe, but serves it warm. I don't tend to stick to a recipe - I use pumpkin, potato, onion and garlic as my base and then play with flavours from there, depending on what I have to hand. The recipe below is the version currently gracing my freezer. As for the next batch, who knows?
1.5 kg pumpkin
3 medium sized potatoes
2-3 brown onions, diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tbsp olive oil
2 dried bay leaves
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp honey
1.5 L vegetable stock (reduce this for a thicker soup but make sure the vegetables are covered in the pot)
salt and pepper
cream to serve (optional)
Peel the pumpkin, remove the seeds and dice into medium-sized pieces. Peel the potatoes and cut into chunks.
Heat the oil and butter in a pot, add the diced onion and fry over a medium heat until it starts to soften. Add the garlic and cumin and fry for a further minute or so, keeping an eye on the pan to ensure the garlic doesn't burn.
Add the remaining vegetables to the pan then pour over the hot stock. Give it a stir.
Pop the lid on and bring to the boil. Once boiling, add the honey, ensuring it dissolves, turn the heat down and simmer for 20 minutes. The vegetables should be tender.
Remove the bay leaves. Season with salt and plenty of black pepper. Let it cool down a bit then blitz it with your machine of choice. I use a stick blender.
To serve: Reheat the soup if required. Ladle into bowls and top with a swirl of cream. Don't forget the warm rolls or toast with butter!
Here are some other soup recipes from the Cuisine database (I've noted the vegetarian ones). Use them to stock your own freezer up this weekend, or as a starting point for your own recipe.
Thai-style pumpkin soup (v - depending on the content of the green curry paste)
Potato and leek soup with parmesan (v - if you don't add the proscuitto)
Cauliflower soup with chilli sourdough croutons (v - if you use vegetable stock)
What's your favourite soup? If there's a recipe you'd like to share, feel free to enter it on the Share Your Recipe page.