Today I’ve prepared a soup; the art of turning a few simple ingredients into a symphony of comfort and flavour. In my world soups are grand. Art even. They are the entrée of a dinner party and the food I serve for my family on a cold Tuesday evening when raindrops are drumming on the windows. Soups are for the mundane and for special occasions. Hot or chilled.
If you google “soup recipe” you’ll find more than a million hits and the variations of ingredients are endless. I like to keep my soups simple in the sense that I often only choose one or two vegetables. For this recipe I chose a vibrant hokkaido pumpkin. ‘Cause it’s the season. And because it’s my favourite for soup. It cooks and blends well, and the result is a silky smooth and creamy soup. It doesn’t even need cream. But if you are like me and just can’t get your soups creamy enough, add a dash of cream. I won’t judge you. To season the sweet pumpkin I went for one of my essential spice combinations; Smoked paprika, preserved lemons, cumin, and black garlic. It’s smoky, piquant, and, most importantly, an umami bomb. The soup was then topped with a fragrant walnut dukkah (pronounced ‘DOO-kah’), a condiment originating from Egypt. Try to make the dukkah ahead and store it in your pantry – it can elevate almost any dish. Use it as a sprinkle on roasted vegetables and stews, or as a crust on various meats.
10 tips for elevating your soup game!
- A good stock can be a game changer. Use home-made, or the best you can get your hands on at the super market.
- Boost the flavour. A good soup needs more than just sea salt. Use spices and fresh herbs to compliment your veggies.
- Creamy soups doesn’t always feature cream. Adding starchy vegetables, like potatoes and pumpkin, will make your soup creamy. Also, try substituting the cream with parmesan or yoghurt. If you prefer a non-dairy alternative, try coconut milk or nutritional yeast for cheese flavor.
- Blend, blend, blend. If you want a soup that is creamy – like, really creamy – put it in your blender. My Blendtec can really work miracles.
- Double the recipe. Soups are great for freezing and can save the dinner after a busy day at the office.
- Don’t add too much liquid. You can always add a little more along the way. Adding too much will either make your soup thin and less creamy, or you’ll spend the entire evening boiling down soup.
- Don’t overcook it. Green vegetables, like peas, will turn brown if cooked for too long. I think we all know brown pea soup. Just let it cook for a minute or two and your pea soup will be bright and green. Get the recipe for my Pea, Mint & Coconut Soup here!
- Add some crunch. I love a crunchy topping to contrast the smooth texture. Be that a spice mix like dukkah, roasted nuts, fried bacon, or chopped fresh vegetables.
- Don’t serve your soup in a wide deep plate. It’ll cool too fast. Serving it in a deep bowl will keep your soup warm at the bottom as you work your way down. If you serve soup as an entrée, try serving it in a mug.
- It’s not for sweater-weather only. I love cold gazpacho-style soups during the Summer.