Sunday, 22 August 2010

Caraway and Orange Pumpkin Soup

I am always initially slightly intimidated by squashes. They look burly and tough. Nevertheless you couldn’t fail to be impressed with the fabulous team of pumpkins that have returned from the allotment today. There are assorted sizes of various odd shaped orange balls, yellow saucers and green giants with tough waxy skins that are part of their appeal. With the recent rain they have beefed up enough to get to an impressive size and I welcomed them home the shelves in the laundry to be stored for use over the coming months. My husband is so proud of them.. and rightly so, for they are magnificent and they do play a major part of our autumn food stash. Of course the reality is that pumpkins are actually soft and buttery once cooked, but I have to remind myself of that. They make super soup, fabulous pies and are great just roasted and tossed in herbs and butter, and with some zest added these will work really well in combination in the caraway chapter.

The two eldest children have been to the seaside with my parents for the weekend. I expected them to be worn out so I decided to tackle the roast pumpkin soup recipe today. Alastair and isobel prepared the squash for the oven, whilst I watched them for a moment; Daughters's little hands held the squashes with reverence, whilst my husband coated them with olive oil. Her big blue eyes followed every move with wonder. In those few still moments concentrating on the transformation, she was filled with wonder. It is such a treat to watch her thought process. What magic - this thing was to become soup!

The pumpkins looked far less intimidating once they resembled giant leftover orange skins from a rugby match. I salted them and roasted them for forty five minutes. Their tough exterior melted and caramelised. Exposed to a constant gentle dry heat that softens and sweetens them, the fruit developed a depth of flavour that becomes the base for a mellow soup. Deep orange with citrus overtones and caraway undertones this is a sweet autumnal soup, perfect for children. What could be more comforting than a steaming bowl of pumpkin soup when you’ve been at the beach all day? I am happy. My Children are home and I have another recipe ready for the book.

1.8 kg of pumpkin
2 tablespoons of olive oil
Zest of one unwaxed orange
2 tablespoons of caraway seeds
Pinch of salt
125ml of single cream
300ml of water

Chop the pumpkin into quarters. Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Transfer the pumpkin to a medium oven fan oven and roast for 45 minutes.
Allow the pumpkin to cool for a few minutes then scoop the flesh into a blender with the orange zest. Using a pestle and mortar grind the caraway seeds up and add to the blender. Add 300 ml of warm water and blend. You can adjust the consistency to your liking, but I prefer mine thick served warm with crusty bread and sprinkled with black pepper and parsley.


  1. Hi Vanessa
    The pumpkins look lovely and the soup very yummy. I'll try the recipe myself soon.

  2. Have you tried frying the caraway seeds with onions beforehand?

  3. You can fry onions and caraway seeds before .. but there is a second recipe that uses this as the base later on .. and onions don't go !

  4. Where do you draw your inspiration from Vanessa?
    Who is your favourite chef?

  5. I can get ideas from any direction and they come from all around me. An advert, a story, a radio show, something that needs using up, a feeling, a recipe book, a magazine article, playing in the kitchen, a recovery from a ruined recipe, a memory of something I once ate, my mother, a blog post, a conversation - there is no one particular place but once I get an idea then I have to cook it.

    The least likely place is a supermarket. Where I am surrounded by food any yet can I can think of absolutely nothing to cook!
    The best results are from suddenly deciding to add in something or change something halfway through a recipe.. . or when I have a limited amount of ingredients in the house and I have to come up with something in a hurry. In general I can look a number of ingredients or a recipe and taste the food even before I make it, and I know what I want to make. If I am lucky then it will turn out right first time.

    I love Nigella, she’s warm and the sort of person I would want to have over for dinner. I very much enjoy watching Valentine Warner - he can have me roaring with laughter as he is so enthusiastic. I adore other food bloggers and in particular David Lebovitz. (Google him - he’s great ) Some of the best chefs are slightly away from the lime light .. but their food is really fabulous because they are not trying to please anyone but themselves.

  6. .. also I travelled from Northern Vietnam to Saigon last year. I spent some time in a cookery school in Hoi An.. the chef spent a good hour training our taste buds with an array of sweet, salty and sour combinations .. which after 20 years of cooking suddenly I was able to formally understand the complexity of combining these. That was really inspiring.

  7. Hi Vanessa. Last night I spread your sensational cherry and vanilla jam on two thick slices of hot buttered toast. The sweet sharp cherries melt in the mouth and the fresh vanilla washes over the taste buds.Very satisfying indeed! I am now thinking of other foods to try the jam with just as an excuse to open the jar. May I request that you tell no one else about this jam and ship all remaining jars to my house. Thank you.


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