This is the final installment for my triptych of roasted vegetable soups, the others being roasted tomato and capsicum, and roasted eggplant and tomato. I made this for staff dinner at the restaurant recently, and as nobody fell ill, I thought that I would share its recipe.
Everyone seems to like pumpkin soup and there are countless recipes out there. This version has a few variants to keep it interesting. Firstly tatsoi. Tatsoi or rosette bok choy is a variation on the Chinese cabbage, bok choy. It grows in a beautifully fanned out rose shape, with irresistibly deep green leaves. To this soup it brings a textural and colourful counterpoint.
The addition of ginger, which has an astounding affinity with pumpkin, adds an intriguing spicy taste and rather than the traditional and very heavy garnish of sour cream, I opted to use sheep milk yoghurt, which has a wickedly creamy, yet tangy flavour.
Of course, if tatsoi or sheep milk yoghurt prove too hard to find, substitute or leave them out entirely. What really matters is the roasting of the vegetables, which deepens the already heady sweet nature of pumpkin, resulting in a hugely flavoured soup.
In Australia I would choose a Queensland blue pumpkin, but just choose the most flavoursome pumpkin available in your area. Make sure to avoid butternut squash, it just doesn't cut it for this recipe.
1 kg pumpkin, peeled and seeded
1 onion, peeled and chopped
2 sticks celery, chopped
4 cloves garlic, peeled
1 small knob ginger, peeled and minced
1 head tatsoi, or other leafy green vegetable
60 ml (1/4 cup) olive oil
60 ml (1/4 cup) sheep milk yoghurt, or sour cream
Chicken stock or water
Freshly ground black pepper
Cut the pumpkin into large cubes. Combine with the onion, celery, garlic and ginger in a large roasting tray. Sprinkle with the salt, pepper and oil and toss well to combine. Cover with tin foil and roast in a preheated 200 °C (390 °F) oven for 40 minutes. Remove from the oven and stir well. Replace in the oven, this time uncovered and roast for a further 20 minutes to give the vegetables a nice deep colour. This is where most of the flavour is coming from so don't worry if the edges of the pumpkin are a little blackened.
Remove from the oven and transfer to a heavy based pot. Place the roasting tray on direct heat and let it sizzle for a second or two. Pour in a little stock or water, about 1/2 a cup and stir to lift up the sediment on the base of the tray. This technique is known as deglazing and is tres handy when it comes to extra flavour. Pour this onto the vegetables. Cover well with stock or water and bring to the simmer. Keep at this heat for about 10 minutes to let the flavours mingle then remove from the heat and allow to cool a little. Puree in batches in a food processor or blender. Get it quite smooth as it will create a nice contrast to the crisp tatsoi.
Rinse out your pot and replace the soup. Bring to the simmer and check for salt and pepper. Finely slice the tatsoi and give it a rinse under cold water. Add to the soup, turn of the heat and ladle immediately into warmed soup bowls. Serve with lots of good bread. Makes about 2 litres (3 1/2 pints or 1 1/2 quarts)