Sunday, 1 August 2010

Triumph over pumpkin skins ~ and very tasty soup

Last summer our vege patch produced a crop of self-sown pumpkins of unknown origin which, though delicious, are impossible to get into without an axe!  I'm not joking.  It goes without saying that peeling them can't even be thought of, and since cooking makes the skins no softer and we had rather a lot of them a creative approach was required.

Please note: the axe shown here is a small one which New Zealanders refer to as a tomahawk, and I gather Americans refer to as a hatchet.

I came up with the idea of cooking the axe-cut portions in the steamer until the insides were cooked and then scooping it out with a stout spoon.

Brilliant - as long as you let it cool sufficiently before attempting to handle it!  From there it can go straight into the blender or food processor to get it liquefied properly with a little water.  One then has an excellent base for soups or stews.

I'm sure this approach would work equally well with more accessible sorts of pumpkins and save a lot of hard work chopping and slicing through thick skins.  I haven't had occasion to try it yet, but will certainly do so after we've eaten all these heavy duty ones!  We've come to refer to them as Great Southern Pumpkins; this is on account of their tough exteriors rather than their size as they are in fact quite small!

Here's the recipe for the soup we made last night:  I'll call it Great Southern Pumpkin Soup after the pumpkins used.  I'm sure it would be just as delicious made with pumpkins of any sort:
Pumpkin pulp - about 3 cups
Onions - 2
Garlic - 2 to 3 cloves
Cumin, ground - 1 teaspoon
Oregano, dried - 1 teaspoon
Soy sauce - a tablespoon or so
Tomato - I use a can of chopped tomatoes - 400 grams
Barley, cooked - about a cup - cooked measure.
As much water as is needed to make this a soup rather than a stew
Salt and pepper if desired.
Method: liquefy pumpkin pulp in a blender or food processor with enough water so that the machine can do this without struggling.  Sauté chopped onions and garlic in a little oil.  Add cumin and oregano and allow to cook a little more.  Add tomato and soy sauce, then the pumpkin purée and barley.  Season further with salt and pepper if you wish.  Add more water to get the consistency you want.  Check seasoning and serve hot.  Yummy with fresh bread and cheese!

It tastes as good as it looks!

If you've made more than you need it freezes well and can be a quick warming meal another day.

A fast, convenient way to have barley, lentils and beans pre-prepared:
I cook a whole potful of this sort of thing at a time and after draining them and allowing them to cool, pack them into plastic containers which go into the freezer.  These are easily defrosted when desired which greatly reduces time spent on food preparation.  To defrost:
  • stand the container on the bench and allow it to defrost by itself
  • place the contents into a sieve and run under the hot tap 
  • placed the contents into a sieve and stand it in a bowl of hot water.
  • Depending on what you're adding it to the contents can be added directly to other hot ingredients where it will rapidly defrost and the grains or beans crumble apart  
...all of which is easy.  Bon appetit!

Later note added on 8th October 2010 and a second recipe for you - very fast and easy:
A store of these pumpkins lasted us through the winter and only recently started to spoil.  I caught most these remaining ones in time, chopped them open with the axe and popped them into the steamer.  There was more pumpkin there than we needed just then so I pushed the pulp of the remainder through a sieve and packed it into the freezer in a few medium sized yoghurt pots each of which held perhaps a couple of cupfuls. 

We had a wintry day today and we felt like a warming soup this evening, and being even more in need of a quick solution than usual I decided to try making a home-made equivalent of packet soup.  It turned out really well so I'm recording the details here for future reference - for myself or anyone else who's interested:

Ingredients and method:
  • One tin of chopped tomatoes - 400 grams - emptied into a pot
  • One of the tubs of frozen pumpkin as described above tipped still frozen into the above
  • 1/2  to 1 cup of water to dilute the purée according to taste
  • In a separate pot heat
    • 1 tablespoon of oil, heat it and add to it
    • 1/2 teaspoon of curry powder - more or less according to taste
    • 1/2 teaspoon or so of marjoram
    • 1/2 teaspoon or so of basil
    • 1 teaspoons of soy sauce
    • salt and pepper to taste.
Cook the spices and herbs very lightly, add some of the tomato to it, cook a little more, then combine with the heating tomato and defrosting pumpkin purée.  By the time it's defrosted it's ready to eat.  I served it hot in a cup with a dollop of low fat sour cream.  It was very tasty!


Grace Dalley said...

You *are* indefatigible! You could adapt this technique to make soup from tree-roots, or any moderately soft rock. ;-)

Leigh said...

Hehe! Stone soup anyone? For those unfamiliar with this reference the term stone soup derives from a children's story in which a woman who has nothing invites others to enjoy her soup with her. She starts it off with a stone which simmers away in a pot of water. She suggests her guests each contribute some small item of *food* to make it yet more tasty and of course it turns out to be delicious, and no doubt nourishing. Sharing is good! :-)