Since winter started and Able & Cole started flooding our house with more veggies than we can finish eating..we have started preparing and cooking more and more soups. They taste awesome on winter evenings and are usually are super easy to make. I had half a squash at home which I wanted to use. Last week we had made kumoor chokka which is squash/pumpkin and potato sabzi with peanuts (it is a Bengali vegetarian staple, tastes a little sweet from the pumpkin and we add a little sugar to enhance that, a little clarified butter or ghee to make it rich and the peanuts add a crunchy/nutty texture. It is usually eaten with luchi or parota. I love this dish, but there is a limit as to how much kumroor chokka you can have!). So wanted to try something else, after going through few other Indian recipes (some use lemon juice, the Ghoti Bengali in me revolted at the very thought, pumpkin should be sweet not sour), anyway, so finally decided to look up some soup recipes. Now we have had pumpkin soup several times and they taste rather monotonous and boring. I wanted to make something with a little kick in it.
In youtube I found this Peter Vamos* video. His recipe looked easy and I loved the almonds in it. So decided to try this out with a little twist of my own.
My chopped squash did not seem enough to make soup for two. There were some sweet potatoes languishing in the veggie basket. So decided to use them as well.
(Measurement is for 2 people)
1 spring onion
1 medium potato and another small one
4/5 small sweet potatoes
1 red chilli
1/2 squash (in the original recipe it was 1 pound of pumpkin)
1 cup milk
1 and 1/2 cup water
Fresh basil ( I used dried powder)
Little garlic powder
Crème fraiche (the original recipe had double cream)
2 teaspoons of olive oil
A handful of roasted almonds
Preparation time: 10 mins
Cooking time: 25 to 35 mins
Finish chopping the potatoes, the sweet potatoes, squash, the spring onion and the red chilli. In a big pan, add the olive oil, sauté the spring onion, add the potatoes, after 5/7 mins add the sweet potatoes and the red chillies. After a min or two, add the water and milk, a pinch of garlic powder, salt and pepper. Let it come to a boil, keep stirring in between so that it does not overflow. Once the potatoes are cooked, add the squash/pumpkin pieces, at this stage I needed to add some more water, a teaspoon or so of crème fraiche, some fresh basil or basil powder, some more salt and pepper. Let the whole thing cook for 10/15 mins more, the vegetables become soft and thickens the liquid and the soup is ready.
Separately take a handful of almonds, crush them and roast them in another pan. Sprinkle them on the soup, add a dash of olive oil and crème fraiche if you want and serve hot.
Verdict: This was the most flavourful pumpkin soup I have ever had, the red chilli had done its work nicely. It had added a whole lot of flavours and a wee little heat. Also the almonds added a nice crunch and did not make the soup boring (you know spoon after spoon of hot liquid going down your throat!) Usually I give my soups a quick turn in the blender, did not this time, because the recipe did not mention it. So the soup came out pretty thick, with a few lumpy bits and pieces. I think next time I am going to blend it or at least stain it so that the skin of red chilli are not in the soup. But the red chilli is definitely going to be in the soup!
* Peter Vamos is a really interesting man, a musician and a cook. At he plays the piano in each of his videos. Definitely one of the most interesting cooking videos I have come across.