Autumn is my favourite time of year. I love living in Melbourne and seeing the seasons change. As the days grow shorter ,the trees start to lose their leaves. The weather gets colder and it’s time to get out warm woollen jumpers, coats and scarves. Our climate is temperate, we get cold nights but the thermometer rarely drops below zero in the city. It’s when I go to bed with a hot water bottle to keep my toes toasty warm.
It’s also time to start cooking hearty, warming meals. Soups, casseroles, braises, stews, pies and bakes. I love this type of cooking. Soup is one of my favourite lunches. With a slice of good sourdough bread and butter, I could eat (drink it?) every day. Or a toasted cheese sandwich, the perfect accompaniment to a steaming cup of soup.
I’ve already been making soup at the store for a few weeks now. The weather has been a bit changeable so I may have been a bit premature but they will be a permanent feature on my menu from now on. Toasted sandwiches will be there too. The girls at the chemist shop a few doors down from me are certainly enjoying them.
A lot of people tell me they can’t cook. I think soup is one of the easiest and most nourishing things you can make. This was one of the first things I learnt to cook when I moved out of home. I never really had a recipe, I just remembered how my mum Helen made it. Almost every weekend during autumn and winter there was a big pot of soup made on Saturday morning, this was one of my favourites, even though I didn’t like pumpkin!
The way my mum makes pumpkin soup couldn’t be easier.
Helen’s Pumpkin Soup.
3-4 large leeks, washed and roughly sliced.
A large piece of pumpkin (she usually uses Kent or Queensland Blue), peeled, seeded and chopped into chunks
A few potatoes (a good floury type like Sebago), peeled and chopped in to chunks
Boiling water or hot stock (chicken or vegetable)
Salt and pepper to taste
Leeks usually have lots of dirt inside them. Remove the tough outer leaves and cut down the middle then cut across into big chunks. Put them into a large bowl and cover water, give them a bit of a swish and leave while you deal with the pumpkin and potato. When everything is chopped, lift the leek out of the water. If you try to pour the water off, the dirt will come out with it. Make sure the leeks are clean, if not put back into the bowl with clean water and rinse again.
Put the vegetables in a large saucepan and just cover with the hot water or stock. Return to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for about 10-15 minutes of until the vegetables are tender. Blend the vegetable with the liquid until they are smooth and there are no large lumps. If you have a stick blender you can blend the soup in the saucepan you cooked it in. If you don’t you can use a blender or food processor.
Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve in a bowl with a dollop of cream or sour cream. It tastes great with some chopped chives sprinkled on top too!
Just right for a cold autumn lunch or easy dinner.