Mum’s Pumpkin Soup

Pumpkin Soup

This is the recipe for my Mum’s pumpkin soup, and it’s pretty easy to make. The hardest part is cutting all the skin off the pumpkin!
It’s a great winter warmer (for those of you who are heading into winter, like me), but is also light enough to eat year-round.

The amounts of everything in this soup are pretty rough – if you have slightly more or slightly less of an ingredient, it will not be the end of the world.

Serves 8 (approximately)

Ingredients

  • 2kg pumpkin, in 1-inch cubes – I prefer jap pumpkins, because they’re cheap and not stringy when they cook up. Butternut is also good, but they are more expensive.
  • 4 large brown onions, sliced
  • 40g butter
  • 3 vegetable stock cubes (or the amount of stock powder you’d use to make 1.5L of stock)
  • 1L of water
  • 1 square of a curry block (I use this one, which I can get from my local supermarket. Any curry powder/seasoning will do, adjust amount to your taste preferences)
  • 2 tbsp sour cream

Method

  1. Heat butter in a stock pot (I use a 5L one) over medium heat. Add sliced onions and cook until translucent and beginning to caramelise.
  2. Add curry, stock cubes, pumpkin, and water to pot and stir. The water will not cover all the pumpkin to start with, but you don’t need to add more.
  3. Bring to boil over medium heat, then reduce heat to low and cook covered for 20mins or until pumpkin cubes are soft and cooked through. Stir occasionally to ensure even cooking.
  4. Remove lid and cook for a further 10mins uncovered (if you like watery soup, skip this step. It helps thicken the soup).
  5. Remove pot from heat and allow to cool for approx 20mins before pureeing. I use a stick blender and do this in the pot, but if you only have a bench-top blender, ensure there are even amounts of solids and liquid in each load through the blender.
  6. Return pureed soup to pot (if you took it out) and bring to boil over high heat. Taste soup at this point and add any extra seasonings. Stir through sour cream and serve.

Variations

  • Thai pumpkin soup – use red curry paste and swap out the sour cream for 1/2 cup coconut cream. Garnish with coriander.
  • Budget variation – if pumpkin is expensive where you live, swap out half the pumpkin for potatoes/sweet potatoes. You can hardly tell the difference! You can also extend the recipe using the same theory – double the ingredients, and make up the additional 2kg of vegetables with potatoes and sweet potatoes. The sweet potatoes help preserve the orange colour of the soup, which can get a bit watered down if you just use white potatoes.
  • +Protein variation – pre-soak 1 cup of red lentils and drain. Add to soup with the pumpkin and continue as normal. Pre-soaking means you will not need extra liquid in the recipe. Red lentils work best as they are the same colour as pumpkin when cooked, don’t have skins, and cook down to mush very quickly.
  • Slow cooker – very easy to make in the slow cooker. Caramelise the onions on the stove first, then add all ingredients to the pot. You will want to reduce the liquid by about 1/3, but DO NOT reduce the number of stock cubes. Cook on Low for approx 6hrs – more is fine. If you are cooking for less than 6hrs, cook on High. Skip the “cook uncovered” step.

This recipe freezes well. It may separate a little when defrosting, just mix it all up again.

~K

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Oven slow cooker

The experiment was a success!

Just a few things I’d change next time – cook chicken as whole breasts, then chop up after cooking, and probably use thighs instead (juicier meat). The chicken literally fell apart when I was serving, but Hubby says that the couple of whole bits he got were a little dry.

The recipe itself got 10/10 from hubby though, so I’ll post about it next time I make it (I forgot to take photos this time).

~K

Cooking experiment

I am going to be conducting a cooking experiment.

I currently only own a 6.5L slow cooker. This is a problem – since there’s only 2 of us, a 6.5L slow cooker is a little bit of overkill. A lot of the recipes I’d like to make serve 6 people, and this is not enough stuff to be able to use my big slow cooker. The slow cooker is supposed to be at least 2/3 full to use it, otherwise you risk overheating the upper parts of the bowl and cracking it.

I have been researching alternatives, pending my eventual purchase of this gorgeous thing (I’m hoping I might get it for my birthday this year).

One that seems to be a decent contender is using a dutch oven in the oven. It seems to best emulate the steady heat and no-stir/set&forget benefits of an actual slow cooker. It’s not something I’d choose INSTEAD OF a slow cooker, because I wouldn’t ever want to leave the house when the oven was on (which is basically the main point of slow cookers as far as I’m concerned. Put food in before I leave for work/uni, and it’s ready when I get home).

The basic premise of this seems to be that you heat the oven to a low-moderate temp, then cook the recipe as you would in a normal slow cooker. I’ve decided on 120°C (about 250°F) because that seems to be a roughly average figure when I compare all the various suggested temperatures. The pot I’m using is a cheap-brand version of a Le Crueset pot (enamelled cast iron).

I’ll report back on how it goes.

~K

Slow Cooker Corned Beef

I’m making this for tea tonight, so I haven’t got a picture yet, but it tastes fantastic. The sauce in this recipe is seriously THE BEST I have ever had – I seriously actually like this more than the corned beef & accompanying sauce that my Mum always makes.

Ingredients:

  • piece of corned beef (also known as silverside) – whatever size piece your slow cooker will fit is best, my 6L pot fits a 2kg one comfortably
  • 1 small onion
  • 8 whole cloves
  • 500g small potatoes, halved
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp malt vinegar
  • 8 black peppercorns
  • 2 bay leaves

Mustard and Parsley Sauce

  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbsp caster sugar
  • 1 tbsp plain flour
  • 1 tsp mustard powder
  • 60ml (1/2 cup) malt vinegar
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped flat-leaf parsley

Method:

  1. Slice potatoes in half, and place across bottom of slow cooker. Trim excess fat from the corned beef, and place corned beef on top of sliced potatoes.
  2. Skin onion and take off the ends. Insert the cloves into the onion – it’s easiest to do this around the top and bottom of the onion.
  3. Place the onion, bay leaves and peppercorns into the slow cooker, and then fill with cold water until it just covers the corned beef.
  4. Get a bit of hot water (about 1/2 a cup) and stir in the brown sugar and malt vinegar until the sugar dissolves, then add to the slow cooker.
  5. Cook on low for 8-10 hours, or until beef is tender and cooked through. Remove beef from slow cooker and set aside, covered, while you cook the sauce. Also fish out the potatoes and put them in a separate covered container until ready to serve. Discard the onion.
  6. Making the Mustard Sauce: Take 1 cup (250ml) of cooking liquid and put aside. Combine the egg and sugar in a small bowl, then stir in flour and mustard powder. Gradually add the reserved cooking liquid and vinegar, stirring until smooth. Transfer to a small saucepan, and stir over medium heat until thickened. Stir through parsley*.
  7. Slice corned beef and serve!

* If using fresh parsley, stir it through at the end. If using dried parsley, add it when you put the sauce on the stove to thicken.

This recipe freezes well (sauce included), and the corned beef is fantastic to have on sandwiches as well.

I generally serve this with various steamed veg. The cooking time is fairly variable – I’ve cooked this for as long as 12hrs, and the only issue I had was that it fell apart a bit when I sliced it up. I also usually double the sauce recipe, because I REALLY like the sauce.

This recipe is only a “cheap eat” when corned beef is on special. Normally, corned beef costs about $9-10/kg. I got the lump I used for this for $7/kg, but I’ve been able to get it for as cheap as $4/kg sometimes. If you buy it from the butcher, often they’ll even slice off most of the fat if you don’t want to do it yourself (just don’t go during peak shopping times – they won’t do it if there’s lots of customers to be served).

~K

Lamb Rogan Josh

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This is one of my FAVOURITE meals. Once again – I don’t make attractive food. But it tastes awesome.

There are 2 versions of this recipe that I make, depending on whether I am using the slow  cooker or cooking on the stove. The slow cooker version serves about 8-10 people (depending on how much you eat and how much rice you make), and uses a lot of lentils, whereas I skip the lentils with the stove-top version so it serves 4-5. My slow cooker batches are always at least twice the size of the stove-top version, because I have a 6L slow cooker, and my largest cooking pot is only about 3L.

If you haven’t made rogan josh using curry paste before, I’d recommend cooking the stove-top version first, because it’s easier to taste as you go and add more paste if needed. We don’t do spicy food in our house, so I generally use half of what the jar of curry paste recommends and work up from there. Also, make sure that you get the curry paste, not the stir-in sauce. Both are available, and they usually sit right next to each other on the shelf – the paste gives you the opportunity to use as much or as little as you need, and keeps well once opened (1 jar usually lasts us at least 6mths). With stir-in sauces, you really need to use it all at once, because they don’t keep well once opened.

This freezes well, for if you are bulk cooking.

Stove-top version

Ingredients

  • 500g lamb, in 2cm (1″) pieces
  • 400g can diced tomatoes
  • 1 brown onion, diced
  • rogan josh curry paste
  • rice

Method

  1. Set rice to cook in whatever manner you choose (I use a rice cooker). I use 2 ‘rice cooker’ cups of dry rice (which are smaller than a measuring cup, I think it’s about 180ml). This amount matches the sauce well.
  2. Cook onion until softened, then add meat and cook until browned.
  3. Mix tinned tomatoes, curry paste and 1 cup water in a bowl then add to the meat and onions.
  4. Simmer until sauce thickens, then serve with rice.

Slow-cooker version

Ingredients

  • 500g lamb, in 2cm (1″) pieces
  • 2x 400g cans diced tomatoes
  • 2 brown onions, diced
  • 2 cups red lentils
  • rogan josh curry paste
  • rice

Method

  1. Soak lentils as per packet instructions*. Overnight is best, but see my note for a shortcut.
  2. This step is optional. Cook onion on stove until softened, then add to slow cooker. Brown meat, then add to slow cooker. I have cooked it a gazillion times without doing this and it turns out fine, but it seems to be habit to cook the onions and brown the meat before adding them. Browning the meat does help keep cheaper cuts juicy though.
  3. Pour off soaking water, then boil lentils until they’re soft but still ‘lentil-shaped’.  This way, they mush down nicely in the slow-cooker and become part of the sauce. Drain and add to the slow cooker.
  4. Add tinned tomatoes, rogan josh paste and about 1 cup of water to the slow cooker. Stir everything together and cover. Set cooker to 8hrs/Low or 4hrs/High.
  5. After about 3/4 of the cooking time has elapsed, check how watery the sauce is. If it’s the consistency you want, leave it covered for the remainder of the cooking time. If it’s a bit watery, move the lid so it only half-covers the pot and continue cooking. Check occasionally to see how the sauce is going, and cover again once the sauce has reached the desired consistency.
  6. Cook the rice when you’re just about ready to serve. I use 4 ‘rice cooker’ cups of dry rice, which makes enough to match the amount of sauce well.

* I tend to be lazy with red lentils, and soak them in hot water (straight out of the kettle) for 20mins, then boil them.

~K