I knew basically nothing about Australian food. Vegemite, the popular Kangaroo meat, and their famous love for Barbecues was the full extent of my Outback culinary knowledge. I wasn’t expecting their food to be so fresh, comforting and delicious. I wasn’t expecting to find Pumpkin Soup to be such a popular item in Sydney’s menus.
When I think of Pumpkin Soup, my mind goes to Halloween, Jack O Lanterns, and a classic part of any American Thanksgiving Dinner. Hurray for globalization! European settlers brought pumpkin seed with them to grow pig’s food. Nobody was expecting that pumpkins would grow so well there and instead it’s become a staple of the Australian table since then.
One thing I should clarify is that the word Pumpkin is used by Aussies to refer to a wide variety of winter squashes. Apparently we Puerto Ricans are not the only ones that generalize when it comes to name those dainty orange fleshed vegetables. For the Australian Pumpkin Soup, the most commonly used “pumpkin” is Butternut Squash. Sweeter, creamier and as the name implies, nuttier than regular American Jack O Lantern kind of Pumpkin.
Aussies like their Pumpkin Soup spicy. Most recipes are spiked with dashes of chillies, cayenne and/or curry to brighten the flavour of the soup. Also, most recipes call for the pumpkins to be roasted before boiling. A procedure that gives the soup a heartier, nuttier flavor, by enhancing the natural flavours of the pumpkin.
I’ve been trying to watch my diet lately. So this soup came about as a perfect meal for my weight loss plan. A soup like this begs for a heavy cream topping for extra richness and a beautiful decorative effect. However, I was strongly committed to my goals and found the perfect substitute for the heavy cream. Roasted Onion puree from the amazing people of Chef Steps. It’s gorgeous and a perfect flavour enhancer to try on any kind of meal. You should check their recipe, it’s quite simple and super versatile.
Finally, for flavor contrast, I cooked some Green Apples with Butter on a skillet just until the butter browned and the apples got a nice golden brown color. The spicy nuttiness of the Pumpkin Soup, the creamy pungency of the Onion purée, topped with the buttery sweetness of the toasted apples dance beautifully together like the most spectacular ballet. I’ll have a diet like this any day! Would you?
- 3 1/2 lb butternut squash, cut into 2 inches cubes, seeds removed
- 1 tbsp curry powder
- 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
- Grated rind of 1 lemon
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 garlic head, halved
- 1 yellow onion, sliced
- 2 tbsp butter
- 2 1/2 cups chicken stock (or vegetable broth for vegetarian version)
- 2 sprigs of fresh sage
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 4 tbsp butter
- 1 green apple, cubed, seeds removed (Granny Smith)
- roasted onion puree (see article above)
- Preheat the oven to 375° F.
- In a big bowl, mix the cubed pumpkin, curry powder, cayenne pepper, salt, black pepper, lemon rind, and the halved garlic head. Mix all ingredients well. Use your hands! Get dirty... It will make everything combine better.
- Evenly spread the mixed ingredients in a baking sheet. Bake for 45 minutes.
- When the vegetables are roasted and cool enough to handle, squeeze the garlic cloves out of the skin.
- Meanwhile, gently saute the onion with the butter over medium low heat on a big pot, just until the onions start to turn color.
- Add the roasted pumpkin, the peeled roasted garlic cloves, sage and broth. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a low simmer. Cook on low heat for 20 minutes.
- Carefully transfer the soup to a blender and puree until very smooth.
- Place the pureed soup back into the pot over low heat to keep warm. Add the lemon juice. Add more broth or water if it's too thick. If it's too thin, bring the heat up to a medium and cook while stirring until you get the desired consistency. Then correct for salt and pepper if necessary.
- For the garnish, place the butter on a skillet and cook for about 5 minutes over medium heat, just until the butter starts to brown.
- Add the apples and cook until they brown a little, about 10 minutes.
- Serve the soup on bowls, topped with roasted onion puree or heavy cream and the apples with a drizzle of browned butter on each bow. Enjoy!
- You can make this soup ahead of time and store in the fridge for up to 3 days.