SMALL SUGAR PUMPKIN RECIPES

A few days ago, I was walking back from the post office to home when I stopped at my local flower shop trading on the side of the road. I like stopping there. He is not selling a large varieties of flowers and trees but everything he sells is seasonal!

CUCURBITA PEPO

My attention has been caught by small uniform round pumpkins with orange skin, small sugar pumpkin or from their Latin name Cucurbita pepo.

Pumpkin season has started a few days ago as Halloween’s day is approaching rapidly.

At this time of the year, expect to carve pumpkins to decorate the front of your house, some types of pumpkins are great to create delicacies.

So, it’s always tempting to get one of these good looking pumpkins. Not only their shape is great but their flesh too. Orange flesh, sugary sweet flavour and smooth texture. Flesh is said to be one of the best varieties for making pies, it is also good for baking, soups and casseroles.

THE SOUP

When I was working at Trinity Restaurant in Clapham Common, I used to make this soup through the Autumn season.

We used to receive a net of pumpkins every 3 days. Our jos was to take the top off the pumpkins, scoop their flesh out, to reserve the seeds for a later use and finally to make a soup.

It’s one of my favourite soups. It’s a rich soup including butter, cream, milk and a good vegetable stock.

When the seeds are being separated from the flesh, slice 1/2 an onion and sweat it with butter and salt.

Add the pumpkin flesh and cook it in a pan, lid on, rapidly to keep the max of flavour. Stir the soup quite often to make sure that it’s not going to catch on the bottom of the pan. The soup base should be cooked uniformly.

At this stage, add one part of vegetable stock for 1/4 part of cream and 1/4 part of milk. Bring to the boil and blend the soup straight away.

Adjust seasoning. Add a splash of lemon juice and pour the soup into the small pumpkin sugar shell. Top the soup with the pumpkin seeds washed and toasted.

Here we go, a fast and an easy soup to make to impress your guests at home. Something a bit more special than a simple soup and using all the pumpkin from shell to seeds.

SOME READING

Please take time to read the following articles. You will find some interesting information about the large varieties of pumpkins available. From curving to cooking, the list is endless.

30 different types of pumpkins-Facts and Pictures

Mr-Fothergills.co.uk

Cucurbit pepo

MY LATEST POST

Black pudding-Mash-Apple

CONTACT

As Christmas is just around the corner, you might certainly started to create your menu or even thinking to hire a private chef to look after your party. If so, please be in touch with me by clicking on the link below.

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BUTTON MUSHROOMS SOUP

Mushrooms

This soup is always a winner. Simple but packed of flavour, a daytoday soup so easy to put together that it will take you 30mns to make a batch of 4 generous soup bowls.

Since I have started cooking, my previous Chefs always told me that the mushrooms’s best friends are salt and garlic! That’s why, you must season properly the mushrooms at the beginning.
In fact, mushrooms are 92% of water. It means 92g of water for 100g of mushrooms.
Closed mushrooms or button mushrooms are the same.
This soup goes well on its own or with a generous slice of sourdough toasted.
“Les bienfaits” of eating mushrooms are the following. Mushrooms contain B vitamins and selenium, a powerful antioxidant, which helps to support the immune system and prevent damage to cells and tissues.

Ingredients: 1kg of button mushrooms; 8 banana shallots; 4 garlic cloves; 150g of butter; 1 sprig of thyme; 1 shot of Marsala wine; 330ml double cream; 1.2L of vegetable stock

Method: Wash the mushrooms and slice them. Grate the garlic and keep it on the side.
Start melting the butter in the pan and add first the garlic. Make sure that it doesn’t get any colour.
Then add the mushrooms and season them with a good pinch of salt. It’s at this stage that you will get all the flavour of the mushrooms. Deglaze with a shot of Marsala wine. Add the thyme.
Stir the mushrooms and cover with a lid.
When the mushrooms are cooked and soft add the double cream. Stir the mushrooms with the double cream and add the vegetable stock.
Bring it to the boil and cook the soup on a medium heat for 5 minutes.
Taste the liquid. If you need to add any seasoning do it now.
Take the fresh thyme out of the pan.
Blend the soup for a couple of minutes to get a rich, creamy and smooth texture. I don’t use a sieve to pass the soup as having a few bits of mushrooms is always pleasant.
If available, add a splash of truffle oil.

COLD LEEK AND POTATO SOUP – AKA VICHYSSOISE

With the hot days coming back again, we are all thinking about what to eat. ‘Vichyssoisse’ is a French word which describes a cold leek and potato soup. Back to the 1917’s, this soup was the fruit of the imagination of a French Chef, Louis Diat, working at the Ritz-Carlton in New York to keep patrons cool! Since then, a few more chilled soups variations were added to his repertoire. People might be familiar with the Spanish cold soup, Gazpacho, made from tomatoes and peppers, but are less familiar with this very French version…

I am going to modify the original recipe a little bit as the original is a pure example of French Cuisine using butter, double cream and creme fraîche, which, although tastes delicious, isn’t quite so good for the waistline and heart health! My version, however, still retains it’s unique flavour but keeps it nutritions and healthy for us to have as a lunch or light supper. The fragrant and green colour of this soup is appealing as the nutrition and health benefits of eating leeks. Leeks are a good source of vitamins A, C and K, of dietary fibre, and contain minerals such as Iron (which is important for red blood cells) and Manganese (involved in the regulation of brain and nerve function).

This soup is really easy to make for a really good value, and lasts for days in the fridge.

It’s best to serve this soup just below room temp to enjoy the flavour from the butter, potatoes and salt.

Ingredients: 2 leeks, 4 banana shallots, 6 new potatoes (skin on) or 10 Jersey Royal Potato, 2 tbsp of crème fraiche, 100gr butter, 1.5 l of chicken stock or veg stock, salt, pepper 1 pinch cayenne pepper



Method: Wash the leeks and divide them in 2 different bowls – green parts in 1 bowl, white parts in the other. On a medium heat, melt the butter in a pan. Chop finely the white part of the leek and put them in the pan with the melted butter and a generous pinch of salt. Give a good stir and sweat the leeks with the pan lid on.
Meanwhile, wash and slice the new potatoes or Jersey Royals. Add them in the pan and season with salt.
Sweat the potatoes until soft. Add the crème fraîche and cook for a minute.
Add 1.5l of chicken stock or veg stock and bring to the boil for a couple of minutes. Add the green part of the leeks finely chopped. Bring to the boil again. Blend the soup until a smooth and green texture.

NOTES
2 great ingredients to make a fantastic soup for lunch or dinner to keep you cool.
The key part to get your soup green is to separate the green part from the white part of the leek.
Make sure to season properly the soup at the beginning to get the maximum of flavour.
If you fancy it, you can a drop of truffle oil at the end.


French Onion Soup

Cold and rainy days are back. We thought that winter time was over and we were almost ready to cook some summery recipes. A few weeks ago, I got a meat delivery from my friend, Andy, who owns Mac & Wild in London. He is butchering some delicious joint of meat. I ordered a couple of kilos of beef bones to make a beef stock. So, this is the first stage to realise the recipe. Homemade stock is easy to make, requires very little hands-on time, and will greatly improve the flavor of this soup. To make a great beef stock, you need a few ingredients and patience!

Ingredients: 2 kg beef bones roasted in a oven at 180 degrees Celsius. 5 carrots, 1 Spanish onion, 2 celery sticks + leaf, 4 garlic cloves, 1 bay leaf, 1 tablespoon of tomato paste.

Method: Put the roasted beef bones in a stock pan, add the vegetables roughly chopped in the same tray and roast them until they caramelise. When done, add the spoon of tomato paste and cook the tomato paste for a minute. Place the vegetable in the stock pot with the bones. De-glaze the roasting tray with a splash of water, add it to the pan. Place the vegetables inside the pan. Cover the bones and vegetables with water. Add the bay leaf and celery leaf. Bring to the boil, skim it and reduce the heat. Simmer for 2-3 hours. Strain the bones and pick any meat left on the bones. As the bones have been braised for a few hours it will make an extra garnish. The stock is ready to be used.

“Soupe á l’oignon” is a French classic recipe dated from the 18th century. which everyone enjoys through winter time. A comfy and rustic home cooking food with a meaty taste, croutons and toasted cheese. Who couldn’t resist the call!?  It takes only 10 minutes to prepare it and 1 hour and an half to slowly cook it. When it’s done, a full explosion of flavours are going through your mouth. Your taste buds are enjoying a great moment and so are you.

Ingredients: 50 of butter, 4 Spanish onions, 2 garlic cloves, 50 ml of white wine, 50 ml port, few sprigs thyme, 1 bay leaf,  2 L beef stock, salt pepper.

Method: Heat butter in a heavy-bottomed pan over medium-low heat. Add the sliced onions, grated garlic and salt. Slowly caramelise the onions. Stir them frequently. The onions must start to leave a few brown bits (sucs) to the bottom of the pan.  Add white wine, port, thyme, bay leaf  and beef stock. Simmer for 20-25 minutes. Remove thyme, bay leaf and adjust seasonings, if necessary. Because of the actual situation, I am using my soda bread (see recipe) to make the toast and grated mature cheddar but if you have a baguette and some Gruyere at home it would be even better. To serve; spoon into bowls, top with bread that is covered in cheese and which has been broiled for 2 mins.

PS: You can find the full recipe in my “Repertoire” page.