May I make a confession ? I am not a soup person. I know! I know! Before your jaws drop in surprise, please let me hastily offer an explanation- I like my food to have texture! Unless there are some chewy or crunchy bits in my soup I would still drink but probably not enjoy. Most soups make me feel as if I am ill and need to be nursed to health with the smooth, warm liquid flowing down my throat. And yet, come winters I almost start to feel guilty if the rest of family who seem to like soups mostly, do not get to savour the goodness. Cream of mushroom, peas and pumpkin soups make a regular appearance in our menu.
The inspiration for this soup comes from the regular pumpkin stir fry we make which is heavily tempered with curry leaves. The latter adds a beautiful flavour and dimension to this sweet vegetable and complements it perfectly . And you get that subtle hint of spice, without the soup actually tasting spicy. Does that make sense ;)?
While in the stir fry, the curry leaves are used for tempering, for the soup, I dry roasted them on stove top for 2-3 minutes on a medium flame and then blended with the oven roasted pumpkins. For all soups in general roasting all dry ingredients(even the garlic) enhances the flavour so much more.
The pumpkin was cubed, drizzled with olive oil and garlic salt and roasted at 200 degrees for 20 minutes (the time would vary in different ovens) or until soft.
And since I was aiming for a vegan version, I used cashews soaked in warm water to impart creaminess to the soup. One could use double cream too and it tastes as delicious.
While all the core ingredients are important , but what differentiates a good soup from a great soup is the stock. You would come across recipes which might suggest subbing stock with water but effectively you are diluting all the favours with water rather than enhancing and complementing them. Hence use stock or broth- chicken, veg, doesn’t matter which one as long as you aren’t using water. And you could make and store it ahead of time.
So, here is the recipe for my Curry Leaf flavoured Pumpkin Soup for you to try. Remember to enjoy it piping hot with a side of cheese sticks or a buttery slice of sourdough!
- Pumpkin, cubed- 2 cups
- Curry leaves, dry roasted-1/2 cup or a little extra for a stronger flavour
- Garlic-4 pods
- Onions, chopped- 3/4 cup
- Cashew nut-1/2 cup
- Garlic salt-1.5 teaspoon or as per taste
- Olive Oil-2 teaspoons
- Butter- 1 teaspoon
- Chicken or Vegetable Stock-3 cups or as per desired consistency
- Pepper- 1 teaspoon
- Preheat the oven to 200 degrees
- Soak the cashews in warm water for 30 minutes. If you would like to use heavy cream in the soup for creaminess, you could eliminate cashews or use a little of both
- Dry roast curry leaves on a stove top and keep aside. This can be done ahead of time and stored in an air tight container
- Rub garlic salt and butter evenly on the pumpkin cubes and place them on a tray and roast at 200 degrees for approximately 20 minutes or until soft (not brown).Place the garlic pods on the same tray as well for roasting
- In the meantime, in a thick bottomed pan, heat butter and add chopped onions and cook till brown
- Bring all prepared ingredients (cashews,curry leaves,pumpkin,garlic and onions) to room temperature and blend in a high speed blender
- In the same pan used for frying onions, add back the pureed mix, add stock, mix well and bring to boil. Add stock slowly, stirring well to make sure you do not thin out the soup too much. If too thick, add more broth
- Taste for salt, reduce heat and simmer covered for another 5 minutes. If using heavy cream, this is when you add it, just before turning off the heat
- Add some freshly ground pepper and serve hot with cheese sticks or a slice of warm bread