In a Facebook group that I’m a member, someone asked: “What do I do with all these pumpkins I’ve grown?” There was a lot of “Pumpkin Soup” answers. Of course, that’s the first thing that comes to mind, right?
We’re not all chefs, but maybe we dont need to be. Making soup is pretty easy if you know the basic rules.
Making soup without a recipe
There are so many ways you can make a good pumpkin soup flavourful, but there are a few steps that will come naturally once you understand the rules, and you’ll use them for all sorts of soups and sauces.
You may have heard of the French term ‘mirepoix’, but for those that haven’t, here’s what it is. It’s (pronounced “meer PWAH”) It’s one of the first things a chef will learn. Mirepoix is usually a mixture of onion, carrot and celery and used as the flavour base for many dishes. Soup, sauces, stews or slow-cooked dishes and marinades. You can add other ingredients like leek, fennel, celeriac and the like, but the mainstays in a French mirepoix are onion, carrot and celery.
These ingredients add flavour to your dish, they are usually added in equal quantities, but if you have more or less of one ingredient than another it won’t matter too much. The idea is that you may not want a dominant flavour. However, if you were making say a carrot soup, you might!
Other countries have their own form of mirepoix, for example in Asia their vegetable flavour base might contain aromatics such as onion, garlic and ginger. Cajun dishes tend to replace carrots with capsicum. Parsnips, fennel and celeriac, are brilliant depending on what type of dish you’re preparing. So what have all these vegetables got in common and why are they used in such a manner? They have loads of flavour and can withstand long cooking times.
What is the Paysanne cut?
With this knowledge, you can make all sorts of savoury dishes without a recipe. So now you know what it is, what do you do with it? First, wash the vegetables, then roughly dice them. The French term for this type of cut is a Paysanne cut; the direct translation is Peasant cut, and it means to roughly chop or dice. You don’t have to be too particular when cutting up these veg although you don’t want them too big so they won’t release all the lovely flavour and cook down at the same time. You also don’t want them too small, so that they disintegrate too quickly. Some recipes call for the veg to be intact at the end like minestrone and others may be pureed into a creamy liquid for say cream of chicken soup. So think about how to cut them at the start to suit the desired end product.
If you wanted the pumpkin to have even more flavour, you could roast it first. When I have my big oven on, I think about how I can use the space and power for something else at the same time. Maybe roasting veg for soup, confit garlic, onion etc.
Lets make some soup
This pumpkin soup is simple but has a great depth of flavour. Of course, you can leave out the pork hock if you wish and make it vegan. If you’d like to keep the smokey flavour just add some Smoked Paprika.
Pumpkin and Pork Hock Soup
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- 2 Tbsp good quality oil
- 1 onion diced
- 1 Carrots diced
- 2 sticks celery chopped
- 1 Capsicum diced
- 2 Tbsp Tomato paste
- 1 Pork hock Smoked or not. Or for a Vegan dish replace with 1 heaped Tbsp of Smoked Paprika
- 1 Butternut pumpkin cubed Raw or Roasted
- 1 litre Chicken stock replace with vegetable stock to make it vegan
- Add the Mirepoix including the capsicum to a large pot with oil or butter and cook on a medium to medium-high heat till it softens, and it starts to brown a little.
- Add the tomato paste to the pot and cook till it loses the metallic smell that you find when you first open the can or jar.
- Add the remainder of the ingredients and cook till the pork falls off the bone (if using or till the vegetables are tender)
- Remove as much as the pork as you can and all the bones and set aside
- Using a stick blender or blender blitz the vegetables till creamy
- Pull the pork off the hock into bit size pieces and place back into the soup and heat
- Serve hot with a drizzle of sour cream and crusty French bread.
Want to know more?
What else can you do with pumpkins? Try these Pumpkin Pecan Muffins, they’re easy and delicious.