Saturday, January 1, 2011

Pumpkin soup with wholemeal toast and salad

Whenever I see a nice wedge of pumpkin at the market, I just cannot resist from buying it.  I love pumpkin for its natural sweet taste, bright colour and the variety of dishes that you can prepare from it.  I used it for steaming (with fish), roasting, Chinese-style steamed pumpkin cake, pumpkin gnocchi and of course, my favourite pumpkin soup!

This is meant to be some kind of vegetarian detox diet, in between the Christmas and New Year period.  I cheated a little though, by using turkey stock as the soup base and added some shredded ham to the salad.  The salad is basically "a mix of vegetables left in fridge" after Christmas lunch - green beans, red radish, red bell pepper.  You can first roast the pumpkin in the oven before adding to the stock.  This method supposedly gives richer tasting soup due to the caramelisation of the pumpkin when roasted.  What I have here is the easier method, simply by stir-frying the pumpkin in the pot.

Here's what you need:

For pumpkin soup:
500g pumpkin (remove skin and cut into small pieces)
2 tomatoes (cut into small pieces)
2 medium sized onion (cut into small pieces)
2 cloves garlic (chopped)
2 slices ginger
800ml to 1000ml stock (depends on how thick you like the soup to be)
100ml milk (or cream)
Salt and pepper
1 tsp of Italian dry herbs

1) Heat oil in pot, add chopped onion, garlic and ginger.
2) Add pumpkin and stir-fry to combine.
3) Add tomatoes, Italian herbs, stock (I usually add just enough stock to cover the ingredients in the pot.  You can always add more stock/milk later to adjust for the thickness of the soup) and cook for about 20 minutes or till pumpkin becomes soft.  Turn off heat and set aside for 10 minutes.
4) Put all the soup contents into a blender and blend till smooth.  If you prefer to eat chunks of pumpkin in the soup, you can blend a portion of the contents instead.
5) Return to pot and simmer over low heat.  Add more stock (if necessary) and salt/pepper to taste.
6) When soup starts bubbling again, add milk, stir and off heat.  

For salad:
2 cups of thinly shredded radish (marinate with 1/2 tsp salt + 1 tsp sugar)
A handful of thin green beans, snap each into two
Half a red bell pepper, thinly shredded
2 slices of ham, thinly shredded
2 tbsp thinly shredded dried Japanese seaweed

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp sesame oil
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp soya sauce
1 tbsp Japanese sesame sauce
Salt/pepper to taste

1) Marinate the radish with salt and sugar for 10 minutes, rinse with water and squeeze out excess liquid.
2) Boil some water, add a pinch of salt and blanch the green beans for a minute.
3) Mix ingredients for sauce and toss all salad ingredients together.  Set aside for 10 minutes before serving.

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