It’s hard to believe we are two thirds of the way through October already – the weather is absolutely glorious, the water is still warm(ish) and our government has decided not to put back the clocks with the rest of Europe next weekend. Woohoo, this is such good news – it means we will have daylight later into the afternoons for walking this winter.
My friend Jean and I went to Fethiye yesterday for a little light retail therapy and to get an exhaust emissions test for our car – the trusty Zebedee – who has to have his araç muayene – the Turkish equivalent of an MOT – tomorrow. Zebedee is a 16 year-old Honda CRV and we love him to pieces – his personal physician at Honda Antalya says he is good for at least another 100,000 km yet. We hope so.
While we were in Fethiye, I spotted my first pumpkins of the year – they were the size of a space-hopper, so I now have a couple of large slices in my fridge. Today is a 5:2 day, so I am going to make half of it into a Thai-spiced pumpkin and coconut soup for this evening. The rest will be cooked, pureed and stashed in the freezer ready for muffins or pumpkin cake (for a day when it ISN’T a diet day, that is).
Luckily, we brought some lemon grass back from Australia with us last week and we also made a rare find of some coriander leaves in the greengrocer yesterday, so things are looking good.
You can add as much curry paste as you want, depending on how spicy you like things. The stuff we are using at the moment is extra hot, so I’m starting with a couple of teaspoons – it’s always possible to add more, but you can’t take it out once it’s in.
Thai-spiced pumpkin soup
Serves 3 – 4
1 tablespoon sunflower oil
750g pumpkin or other autumn squash, peeled and roughly diced
1 onion, peeled and chopped
3cm piece of ginger, peeled and grated
3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped or grated
A 10cm (approx) piece of lemon grass, left whole (you will remove this before you puree the soup, so you can use the woody end, and leave the bulb for another day)
Thai red curry paste to taste (I used about 1 tablespoon)
2 teaspoons brown sugar
Zest and juice of a lime
2 Kaffir lime leaves, if you have them, left whole (lemon leaves give a similar flavour)
200ml (approx) coconut milk or coconut cream (about half of a standard can – you can freeze the rest for another day)
450ml chicken or vegetable stock (or use a stock cube dissolved in boiling water)
A small bunch of coriander, stalks and leaves separated and chopped
Sliced fresh red chilli or some red chilli flakes to serve
Heat the oil in a large saucepan and add the pumpkin. Cook over a medium heat until it is starting to brown on the edges, then add the onions, ginger, chopped coriander stalks and garlic.
Turn down the heat, cover with a lid and continue to cook until the onions have softened.
Stir in the curry paste and cook for a minute or two more, then stir in the coconut milk (or cream) and stock. Add the brown sugar, together with the lime zest and juice, and the lime leaves. Bruise the lemon grass stalk with the end of a rolling pin or the back of a heavy knife and add to the pan.
Season with salt and pepper. Bring to the boil, then turn down the heat so that the soup is just simmering, and cover with a lid.
Cook for around 20 minutes, check that the pumpkin is tender, then take off the heat. Remove the lemon grass and lime leaves, then puree the soup with a stick blender or in a liquidiser. If the soup is too thick, thin with a little milk or water. Add most of the chopped coriander leaves, leaving a few aside for garnish.
Check for seasoning, then serve in warm bowls, sprinkled with chopped coriander and chilli. This goes really well with Hughie’s flatbreads.