Pumpkin and Marjoram Soup
Pumpkins and squashes made their colourful entrance all the way from Chegworth Valley, Kent this month. All shapes and sizes can make it difficult to chose which variety to use for what recipe. Turks Turban, Onion and Crown Prince are my recommendations for this warming soup. They give a wonderful deep flavour and vibrant colour. If you can’t find these varieties in your local green grocers then substitute with a standard Pumpkin or the widely available Butternut Squash they both make a brilliant soups. The best thing about Pumpkins is that they keep very well. Just pop them in a box with some scrunched up newspapers indoors and they will keep for weeks if kept away from the frost.
Wash and chop the Pumpkin into wedges and remove all seeds with a spoon. Place on the tray and drizzle with Olive Oil and the demerara sugar (optional) and two pinches of salt.
Peel and slice Onions, Leek and Fennel as finely as you possible can. This is the ‘base’ for your soup.
Make a fresh vegetable stock:
Pour 1 litre of water over 2 chopped Onions, 2 washed and chopped Carrots, 3 Celery sticks, 3 Bay leaves, small bunch Thyme, 1/2 tsp Fennel seeds, 6 white Pepper Corn (or black will do). Boil very gently for 30 minutes uncovered until all the Vegetables have given their flavour to the water. Strain and reserve the liquid – yield should equal approx 750 ml
Pick and wash Marjoram
Preheat oven to 180ºC
Roast the Pumpkin wedges until soften and deep golden brown and just starting to scorch slightly on the edges – this should take about 30-40 minutes. Remove and cool.
Whilst the Pumpkins are cooking sweat the onion, leeks, fennel and garlic in the saucepan with 2 table spoons of olive oil. Do this over a medium heat with a sprinkling of Salt. Continue to sweat until the vegetables are soft and just starting to catch on the bottom of the pan. Stir from time to time. Add the white wine and continue to cook for another few minutes.
Scoop out the flesh of the cooked pumpkin away from the skin with a spoon. Add the flesh to the cooked base and discard the skins.
Cover with stock and bring every thing back to the boil for a few minutes.
Blitz with the stick blender. Add the picked Marjoram. Taste and adjust seasoning.
Serve Or Preserve
Serve in warmed bowls with a spoon of soured cream and/or some chopped smoked bacon and grated parmesan.
This soup will keep in the fridge tightly covered for 5 days.
1.5 kg Pumpkin
50ml Light Olive Oil
2 tbsp Demerara Sugar
2 Fennel heads
100ml White Wine
750 ml Vegetable Stock
3 cloves Garlic
6 sprigs Marjoram or Thyme
Fine Sea Salt
Sharp kitchen knife