Here’s a great winter soup, enriched with cream to make it really comforting. If you want it lighter, simply omit the cream – it will still taste good. I have tried making this with the different varieties of pumpkin that we grow at Great Dixter, and I have come to realise that each has its own distinct qualities. My favourite is ‘Jarrahdale’, which has thick and somewhat dry flesh, but the ‘Sugar Pie’ cultivar is good too. Generally, pumpkins that are grown hard – that is, without too much water – will cook better, as well as storing for longer. You can also use other spices, such as chilli flakes, cumin, curry powder or grated fresh ginger. Just remember to add them at the beginning when you are cooking the onion and garlic to bring out the flavour.
The vegetable stock can be prepared in advance and frozen for later use. The stock can be frozen for up to three months and it is such a useful thing to have in the freezer, especially in the winter, which does seem to be soup-eating season. This recipe will make around 2.5 litres and is cooked quickly to preserve the fresh flavour of the ingredients, so you can add greens or strong-flavoured vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower and turnip to give it more flavour. You can replace the vegetable stock with a chicken stock for a richer flavour.
For the stock
- Celery stalks 4, including leaves, roughly chopped
- 1, roughly chopped
- Dried mushrooms handful
- Garlic 2 large cloves, unpeeled, smashed with the flat of a knife
- Onion 1 small, cut into quarters
- Peppercorns 1tbsp
- Salt 1tsp
- Bay leaves 3
- Fresh thyme 1 or 2 sprigs, or a large pinch of dried thym
For the soup
- Olive oil 1tbsp
- Onion 1, chopped
- Garlic 3 cloves, crushed
- Paprika ¼tsp
- Ground coriander 2tsp
- Potatoes 2, (about 300g in total), peeled and chopped
- Pumpkin (or butternut squash) 1kg (peeled and seeded weight), chopped
- Vegetable or chicken stock 1 litre
- Double cream
This recipe is taken from The Great Dixter Cookbook: Recipes from an English Garden by Aaron Bertelsen (Phaidon, 2017).