Portion/Yield:Serves 4 as a starter or light lunch
Vibrant pumpkin soup has some magical memories for me. I used to work in one of Britain’s toughest kitchens and we served pumpkin soup every day. The leftovers from the previous day were given to staff for lunch and I remember it as if it were yesterday. Back then I considered the meal to be liquid gold. The chestnuts lend the soup a rounded nutty flavour and give it a wonderful velvety texture. Roast the pumpkin’s seeds and use them for the garnish.
Choose the right pumpkin for your soup, always choose a pumpkin with a very dry matter. Make sure the pumpkin is ripe, this will deliver the most flavour and best result.
Ingredients & Method
- 500g (prepared weight) Crown Prince pumpkin (see Cook’s Note), peeled, deseeded and diced (reserve the seeds)
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 100ml dry white wine
- 1 litre white chicken stock or vegetable stock
- 50g Roasted Chestnuts, peeled
- sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
Preheat the oven to 180°C/Gas Mark 4 and line a baking tray with non-stick baking paper.
Wash the pumpkin seeds and remove any membrane that is still clinging to them. Pat dry using kitchen paper, then spread the seeds out on the prepared baking tray. Season with salt and pepper and drizzle with the olive oil, then toss gently to mix. Roast in the oven for about 10 minutes or until the seeds are lightly toasted, stirring halfway through the cooking time. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool. Melt the butter in a large saucepan and once it is foaming, add the pumpkin flesh, cinnamon stick and salt and pepper. Cover the pan with a lid and cook over a low heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent it from catching. Remove the lid and increase the heat to medium, then add the wine, bring to the boil and cook for 2 minutes. Add the stock and bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to a gentle simmer, cover and simmer for about 20 minutes or until the pumpkin begins to soften and break up. Add half of the chestnuts, simmer for a further 10 minutes, then remove the pan from the heat. Remove and discard the cinnamon stick.
Carefully transfer the soup to a blender and purée until very smooth. Return to the pan and if the soup is a bit thick for your liking, stir in a little more stock. Reheat gently until hot, then taste and adjust the seasoning, if necessary. While the soup is reheating, roughly chop the remaining chestnuts. Serve the hot soup in bowls, garnished with the chopped chestnuts and roasted pumpkin seeds.
Serve with plenty of fresh crusty bread.
Crown prince pumpkins have grey-blue skin and a rich orange flesh and they are a little more unusual than the orange-skinned varieties you will be used to seeing. I’d highly recommend seeking them out. They are especially prized for their flavour, which is particularly sweet in comparison with other varieties of pumpkin. Look out for them at farmers’ markets, or why not try growing your own?