You may remember a few months ago when I announced that I’d been asked to be a regular columnist in a new food magazine that was coming out this year.
Well, I’m finally proud to announce that my very first column has finally been published!
The Gourmet Kitchen is available for purchase in all good newsagencies or online, but I’m also happy to announce that I have a free 1 year subscription to give away to any reader with an Australian address to this new quarterly magazine! All you have to do is leave a comment telling me what you’d like to see me write about, or what you’d even like to see in a new foodie mag!
The competition will run till the end of June, so you’ve got a little over a week to enter a comment to be in the running for it! But in the meantime, onto the post!
Winter is such a funny season. In a romantic’s world, it conjures images of crackling fireplaces, warm hearths, and snuggling under mountains of blankets in your lover’s embrace. As for myself, two words come to mind: cold and germs.
Mind you, our winters here in Australia aren’t really all that bad. I remember one winter overseas where I ventured outside into the blustery snow with a head of wet hair (I was running late and hadn’t had a chance to dry it after a shower), and the air was so cold that my hair actually froze.
Imagine running for a bus with a bunch of solid icicles jingling from your head. Not exactly the best example of a good time! Needless to say, I didn’t repeat that mistake.
Then, there are the germs.
When a particularly ill colleague, who appears to be struck down with some horrific plague, stumbles across to your desk, peers down at you with bleary eyes and nose rubbed so red that it would give Rudolph cause for envy, then hands you a document that you just know they’ve sneezed all over, coughs and smiles apologetically while saying “Sorry, I’m a bit crook”, it takes all your willpower not to go bug-eyed and splutter “GET YOUR FOUL GERM-RIDDEN BEING AWAY FROM ME BEFORE YOU ARE FORCIBLY CLEANSED BY THE POWER OF MY DETTOL!!”
Instead, social policy requires that you coo sounds of pity and gracefully accept said document from their hands, then try not to be too obvious as you race for the hand sanitiser and quash the urge to purify your entire being with a shower of the afore-mentioned antiseptic. Okay, so that might be a slight exaggeration, but let’s be honest here — winter is not easy to survive.
In fact, one of the only consolations about the season of colds and bone-chilling winds is that it is also the season of hearty comfort foods. The sorts of foods that warm you through and through, filling you up and sending you happily to sleep after you’ve relished their embrace.
Winter brings with it satisfying soups, bubbling broths, comforting casseroles and sumptuous stews. Cooking takes a slower pace and instead of quick-fix salads, kitchens everywhere are filled with the sounds and smells of dishes slowly simmering away on the stovetop or baking away to golden perfection in the oven.
Soups, in particular, are my weakness. There’s something about a bowl of beautiful homemade soup that stirs the soul and sates the stomach like nothing else. Whether it’s brothy like a chicken and vegetable soup or something smoother like a creamy pumpkin soup, it warms you from the outside in till your extremities can no longer remember being assaulted by the chill.
The added bonus of soups, of course, is that they freeze incredibly well and are a cinch to reheat. I tend to accumulate little zip-lock bags full of various soups over the course of winter and when I come home late from work feeling all tired and grumpy, a hearty and satisfying meal is quick to be had without resorting to poached eggs on toast or takeout.
I’ve shared with you a fabulous recipe for a spicy Thai-style pumpkin soup that is just a little bit special. Standard pumpkin soup is definitely delicious, but if you’ve made it a few times and are thinking about trying something different, I hope you’ll give this a whirl!
Spicy Pumpkin Soup
1kg pumpkin (I like to use butternut or Kent)
3 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 cup light coconut milk
1 large onion, diced
1 Thai birds-eye chilli, diced
3 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tbsp roughly chopped coriander
1″ fresh ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
Salt and pepper, to taste
1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C, then cut up the pumpkin into fat wedges. Place them on a lined baking tray, drizzle over a little olive oil, salt and cracked pepper.
2. Roast for 40-50 minutes or till a skewer inserted in the middle can push through the skin with no resistance.
3. Separate out the roasted pumpkin flesh from the skin and set aside, then prepare your onion, garlic, ginger and chilli.
4. Sauté the onion, garlic, ginger and chilli till the onion is translucent and softened, then add the roasted pumpkin flesh and coriander and stir through.
5. Add the stock and coconut milk and stir to combine. Bring the mixture to a boil, then simmer over low heat for an hour to reduce the liquid by about half.
Once the liquid has reduced, blend it all together till completely smooth, then put it back in the pot (or just leave it all in the pot if you have one of those fabulous stick blenders) and stir through the vinegar and season with salt and pepper.
Now you can serve this as is, but you can also serve it with a dollop of natural yoghurt (or sour cream), as well as some spicy toasted pumpkin seeds and a few snipped chives.
And if you’re looking for a little cheesy goodness to serve this with, this recipe for cheese & chive scones goes down a real treat with this soup
This post and recipe are as originally printed in The Gourmet Kitchen, edition #2.