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

Shoyu Ramen

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I’ve adapted my recipe for this ramen from Just One Cookbook’s “Spicy Shoyu Ramen” recipe.

Their recipe makes a 2 person serve, and uses some ingredients that I have had some trouble getting for a reasonable cost. I’ve adapted it to use ingredients that I pretty much always have in the pantry, and to use cheap ingredients.

Serves: 1

Ingredients:

  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 tsp minced ginger
  • 1 tsp cooking sake
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp sweet chilli sauce
  • 1 chicken stock cube (or 2 cups premade dashi stock)
  • This dry ramen – the packet contains 3x 90g “serves”, I use 1/2 of a “serve” for 1 person
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas & corn
  • 2 rashers bacon, cut into large pieces (sometimes I’m lazy and just tear it up to save on cleaning)
  • Chopped green/spring onions (whatever you want to call them)
  • Some nori squares
  • whatever other toppings you want – enoki, chicken,spinach, a soft-boiled egg, whatever you’d like!

Method:

  1. Put a little oil into a small saucepan (I generally use my little 1L pan for this) and cook garlic & ginger until fragrant.
  2. Add sake, soy sauce, sweet chilli sauce and stock cube to pan along with 2 cups of cold water. Bring to boil.
    *NOTE – if you are using premade dashi instead of the chicken stock cube, leave out the water. If you are using dashi granules, just replace the stock cube with the appropriate amount of granules*
  3. Once boiling, add ramen and cook for 2mins then add peas & corn and bacon. Cook for a further 2 mins, or until ramen is cooked. Add chopped green onions about 30 seconds before you take the pot off the heat, to allow them to flavour the
  4. Transfer to a large bowl, top with nori and serve immediately.

How it is different from the original

  • I can’t get the chilli paste easily or cheaply, so instead of the chilli paste and sugar in the original recipe, I use the sweet chilli sauce
  • I’m still working on sourcing affordable dashi stock granules that don’t contain flavour enhancers, and I don’t always have time to make dashi stock from scratch during semester, so I tend to generally just use chicken stock. Dashi tastes better, but chicken is definitely my second favourite
  • I don’t strain the soup after boiling it because I’m all about minimal dishes and minimal effort – and I don’t mind having the bits of ginger and garlic in the finished product

I would usually have a soft-boiled egg with this too, but I hadn’t made any when I decided I wanted ramen for lunch. I’ll share the recipe I use for the ramen soft-boiled eggs a bit later when I make them again 🙂

It’s easy enough to make this recipe vegetarian – use a vege stock cube instead of chicken, or use “vegetarian dashi” (dashi made with konbu and shiitake mushrooms instead of bonito flakes) and use some firm tofu in place of the bacon and/or eggs (depending on whether you’re vegetarian or vegan I guess).

I’ve never made this for Hubby, as he’s not really a fan of soup or noodles, and I’d rather not go to a heap of effort when I know he isn’t even going to drink the soup (he’d just eat the noodles and bacon and be done with it. What a waste!).

~K

Alphabet Soup

I usually make my own Minestrone Soup, but I felt like trying someone else’s take on that sort of soup, so I made this Alphabet Soup recipe from Big Girls Small Kitchen.

The verdict from Hubby and myself is that this one is better 🙂 I might make some adjustments to my recipe in light of this.

That’s not my picture, that’s the one from the BGSK website!

The changes I made were:

  • left out the white wine, because I didn’t have any at home
  • I used risoni pasta instead of alphabet pasta, because that’s what I had in the cupboard already

And again, in case you missed it, here’s the recipe.

~K

Really Basic Bento

This is my “ugh can’t be bothered” bento.IMG_2287

It could also be called my “oops I forgot to prep” bento, or “oh god is that the time? I’d better make something to eat” bento (I suddenly realised it was 2pm and I hadn’t eaten lunch, so this is what I made).

It uses things I always have in my fridge/pantry, and the longest part of the process is cooking the rice.

Contents:

  • 1/2 carrot
  • 3 florets broccoli
  • 3 florets cauliflower
  • 1-egg tamagoyaki – I usually add slightly less than 1/2tsp sugar, because I like it a little less sweet
  • 1 cup rice with some homemade furikake

Total calories: approximately 400

Usually, I would also include about 150cal of something meaty (usually chicken) but I didn’t have anything left that was ready to go. I’d made a huge batch of Torihamu last week, but the little bit that was left didn’t smell right (even Jacket wouldn’t touch it, and he’s usually begging me to share) so I chucked it out. Everything else was still frozen solid.

Also, I’m a little out of practice with making the tamagoyaki – idiot me forgot to oil the pan first, so it’s a less-than-attractive version. Still tasted just as good though 🙂

There would also usually be some sort of brothy soup in the bowl (miso, chicken, tomato, etc) but I only have miso at the moment and I don’t feel like that today. I’ll have a cup of tea instead.

~K

Beetroot Risotto

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I made this for dinner tonight (using about half the beetroot I have). I got the recipe from here. I made a few changes – I never use wine in risotto, because I rarely have the kind that is good for cooking. I increase the amount if stock slightly to compensate.
Even Hubby liked it, and he generally doesn’t like anything vegetarian… So a roaring success, I think 🙂 And it’s a good deal more appetising than it looks, I assure you.
I think I’ll make it again, and use up the remainder of the beetroot.