About Me
I'm a Melbourne boy, hailing from St Kilda with one ex, one current wife and four kids. Love the outdoors and making new discoveries. I cook a lot at home (cheers from wife) and do some preserving, mostly jams, pickles and fruit liqueurs. This is the diary of a cooking journey.

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Thursday, June 01, 2006
Pumpkin Soup
Played around with the first pumpkin soup of the season. I don't know about you, but pumpkin soup tastes, well, so pumpkiny. Duh. Not that I'm complaining, but my point is that pumpkin overwhelms most other flavours, so it's hard to play around with it. My mum used to swear by a tomato or two in her version, and some people like to add orange flavours to theirs.

Noodling around in Anne Willan's book, A Kitchen In Burgundy, I found another version of this soup that caught my eye. It contained wild chestnuts as well as some bacon. Well we did have a piece of kaiserfleisch, but we also had a couple of smoked ham hocks and I thought that one would be a nice addition instead of the bacon. Alas, we didn't have chestnuts of any description, so they were left out, although there is still plenty of soup left, so if there is time tonight, maybe some will get in yet.


1 smoked ham hock
2 onions, skin on, quartered
3 carrots, peeled, cut in half
2 tomatoes, cut in half
2 ribs celery
2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1 bouquet garni with lots of thyme
1 teaspoon peppercorns
3 kg (6 to 8 lb) pumpkin, peeled and seeded
50 g (2 oz) butter
2 onions, chopped
2 potatoes, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
pinch of cayenne
500 g (1 lb) chestnuts
salt & pepper

Okay it is a long list, but we made the soup over two days, mostly simmering. Place the ham hock in a pot with the onions, carrots, tomatoes, celery, garlic, bouquet garni and peppercorns, cover with water and bring to a boil. Adjust the heat to the barest simmer, don't worry if it's not bubbling, and cook for two hours, then turn off, put the lid on and leave for the next day.

Strain the ham hock and reserve along with the cooking liquid, discard the vegetables. Strip the meat from the skin and bones, cut into neat dice. Melt the butter in a large pot and sweat the onions until soft, then add the potatoes and garlic and cook two minutes more. Add the pumpkin pieces, nutmeg, cayenne and cover with the reserved ham hock stock. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 35 minutes.

Whilst the soup is simmering, roast the chestnuts, don't forget to slit them first, in a hot oven until tender, about twenty minutes, then shell and peel them. It doesn't matter if some fall apart. When the pumpkin is tender, puree the soup and then add some milk to get your desired consistency, not too thick. Adjust the seasoning, add the chestnuts and diced ham hock, gently reheat and serve.
  posted at 9:50 am

At 9:03 am, Blogger Reb said...

A problem indeed the ol punk'n soup. I find I put so much spice in it to make it taste of something I end up with a pureed pumkpin curry. But this sounds pretty good and I love the idea of chestnuts!

At 9:59 am, Blogger neil said...

Hi reb, I know exactly what you mean. Pumpkin soup's tipping point is so finely balanced, a soupcon to much and it all goes out of whack! A bit like the song Milton the monster's dad sings while brewing up his son..."and now for the tincture of tenderness, but I must use only a touch, for without the tincture of tenderness he might destroy me, oops, too much!"


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