Soup, soup, soup. Perhaps one of the greatest food inventions ever in my book. It removes the chill from one’s bones on cold wintery days and is wondrous at replenishing depleted energy stores. Feeling lethargic? A bowl of piping hot, peppery soup is sure to add a spring to your step. It is relatively difficult to go wrong with soup – chuck in a few vegies, some protein if you wish and a whole heap of veggie stock and leave it bubbling away on the stove whilst you read, blob in front of the telly (or like me do the housework, a far less interesting option). Blended soups perhaps give you even more leeway for ‘slight mishaps’ as everything is pureed to within an inch of it’s life at the end, so it really doesn’t matter if you overcook it/don’t cut everything precisely!
I took the inspiration for this one from my dad’s pumpkin soup. He swears by a spoon of powdered ginger in his to lift the flavour of the pumpkin and I must say that it does take it to a whole new level. However, I decided to use fresh ginger instead as I wanted a less intense aroma. Fresh ginger also has a slight citrusy fragrance that I think works sublimely with the pumpkin and coriander, giving the soup an almost Asian feel. The sweet corn lives up to it’s name and truly does sweeten the dish – there is room for a boring, bland pumpkin soup in our house! The one pitfall that I often have with soup is that many vegetarian types contain no form of protein. Whilst they taste wonderful, I do feel my conscience wearing on me if I don’t have any protein for dinner (or at least if I don’t on a regular basis). There is no such protein problem with this soup! It is impossible to taste the red lentils, which suits me just fine – sometimes I fret that by adding legumes you run the risk of altering the base flavours of a dish.
It looks as though the supreme reign of Dad’s pumpkin soup may be nearing an end with the creation of this one!
Gingered Pumpkin and Red Lentil Soup
1 tbsp sunflower oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
250g celery, thinly sliced
2 tsp minced ginger
750g pumpkin/butternut squash, peeled, deseeded and cut into rough 2cm dice
600g sweet potato, peeled and cut into rough 2cm dice
2 litres vegetable stock
150g sweet corn kernels
200g red lentils, rinsed
¼ cup coriander leaves, roughly chopped plus extra for garnishing
½ tsp salt
½ tsp black pepper
Heat oil in a large pot over a medium-low heat. Sweat onion, celery and ginger for about five minutes, stirring regularly, or until softened.
Throw in pumpkin and sweet potato, and sweat a further eight minutes with the lid on, stirring every so often. It doesn’t matter if the pumpkin sticks a little bit – the caramelised edges only add to the flavour!
Pour in vegetable stock, bring to boil, stir well and reduce to a simmer for ten minutes.
Add the sweet corn, lentils and coriander leaves and simmer, covered, for another ten minutes or until lentils are tender.
Remove from heat, stir in salt and pepper and leave to cool slightly.
Blend in batches then reheat gently.
Garnish with coriander leaves (and a drizzle of cream if you wish to be extra indulgent).
Source: A Taste Without Waste original