Wednesday, November 07, 2018

my little...pumpkinny-wumpkinny?

So, Halloween, then. Source of much annoyance, some of it caused by pedants who insist that the word should have an apostrophe between the two e's, some of it caused by trick-or-treaters, some of it caused by those who sniffily dismiss the whole thing, or some aspects of it (usually the trick-or-treating bit), as a piece of modern American-inspired nonsense. I don't want to get into the argument, but, as always, it's a bit more complicated than that.

My objection to trick-or-treating is not based on some spurious lazy knee-jerk cultural bias, but on the empirically sound and verifiable fact that I am a grumpy old misanthrope and I don't like strangers coming round my house demanding I participate in some lets-all-muck-in come-on-get-involved community jollity or some similar heart-warming crap. As it happens we very rarely get trick-or-treaters round our way as we're a bit off the main residential circuit and the occasional drive-by shootings probably make people a bit nervous. What I generally do is lay in a load of fun-size choccy bars as a precaution and then spend the following week eating them.

One thing that you'll probably be unable to avoid, particularly if you have children, is purchasing one or more pumpkins for the purposes of carving amusing faces into them. And, furthermore, having done that, fretting about whether you should make use of the giant gourd for some sort of recipe once the novelty of the amusing face-carving has worn off, rather than just leaving it outside the back door to decompose.

This year I was determined to make better use of them, especially as we ended up with three, only two of which were used for carving purposes. So I decided to make some soup, most of the traditional alternatives, pumpkin pie in particular, having a fairly unpalatable look to them.

I have a few general observations about soup, as follows:
  • firstly and most importantly, soup is predominantly, preferably 100%, liquid. There is, I am going to assert, no such thing as "chunky soup". If you have a bowl of that, what you have there is runny stew. I bow to no man, for instance, in my love for Welsh cawl, but calling it soup is a nonsense. 
  • one of the reasons for this is that I eat things when blitzed unrecognisably into soup that I wouldn't touch with a bargepole in their "natural" form. Celery is a good example; my hatred of it in its natural form is mainly a texture thing, so when it's pulped into soup (probably with the addition of some potatoes and stuff) it's just pleasantly peppery. The criticisms levelled at Heinz Big Soup here, for instance ("mainly pipes and gristle") would have been more difficult to level if it had all been blended up into an amorphous goop.
  • it's surprisingly difficult to over-spice soup. Bung in as much stock as you like, spice it up, chilli it up, you're very unlikely to overdo it. As you'll see below I had to chuck an extra consignment of spice mix into my soup to render it a bit more interesting.
So anyway, I made some pumpkin soup. I had two whole pumpkins, and I didn't want to end up with two gallons of soup, so I kept it simple - two pumpkins, a couple of onions, some garlic, various exotic spices. I chopped up the pumpkins into slices, slathered them in some spice mix (a mixture of some tagine paste I had in the fridge, some smoked paprika and a load of black pepper, as well as some olive oil and lemon juice) and chucked them in the oven for what ended up being a couple of hours. I then skinned them, put them in a big stockpot with the onions and garlic and a load of stock, simmered them for a couple more hours, put the whole lot through a blender, bish bosh, soup.

Slightly bland soup, to my taste, so I put together a small magic potion featuring some more stock, a dollop of some exciting Middle Eastern spice mix (as pictured) and a couple of spoonfuls of some Greek yoghurt, added that, and that seemed to improve things. It ended up being perfectly nice slightly spicy pumpkin soup, not the most thrilling taste experience ever, but, you know, it's soup, get over it. Here are a few pictures.

1 comment:

Emma said...

Looks wholesome. I bought a pot of za'atar the other week. Had a sprinkle on fried eggs for an on-trend breakfast.