Fall has officially begun as of last week and, as always, I’m not ready to let go of the warmth and lightness of summer. Soon the days, when I will miss living in places where tropic weather exists in abundance, will arrive. I’ll be taking baths on Sunday afternoons and drink infinite numbers of big cups of steaming herbal tea to keep warm and hydrated.
I do love the coziness of fall and winter (and the vegetables that we get to eat then), but I so much prefer the lightness of summer and spring with all the flowers, bees and butterflies.
This time last year, I met up with a colleague/friend, and we carved pumpkins. We had never done this before, so we were very excited. Me being me, I did a lot of research online about how this would be done best: with a pumpkin carving kit. Now where to buy such a thing? The people on the internet knew, and before heading out to my colleague’s new house (she had just moved in with her boy-friend), we stopped at the One-Euro-Store, where they were out of pumpkin carving kits. Their staff was very kind and called up an affiliate and asked them to hold back two sets for us, which we picked up on the way home.
When we arrived, we found the boy-friend gone, but many instruments to help us with the carving of our pumpkins (including goggles) – and a first aid kit. We set to work and were amazed at how great our pumpkins turned out. Here’s a picture of me with our two pumpkins. Mine’s the one on the left, with the bat. And yeah, I’m looking kinda beat. Might be the combination of wine and carving pumpkins, plus cooking dinner after an eight hour work day. After a busy afternoon of listening to the radio in Italian on Funkhaus Europa, we made dinner and I went home – my pumpkin friend under my arm. As I was leaving, my friend said “Well, now we know what we can do together now that we won’t be working together any more”. I’ve been looking forward to fall of 2014 ever since, and I can’t wait for us to continue our pumpkin carving tradition.Fall is also a time to blow off the dust of certain CDs, and give a listen to Kate Bush’s Aerial, Nick Drake’s Bryter Layter and anything PJ Harvey. Albeit I’m also currently practicing the art of letting summer linger by means of streaming salsa radios, bringing many fast and fun tunes played by instruments associated with tropical music. I dance and get very warm, very fast and it’s almost like being back in July again. With a shake in my hip and an eye on the pretty leaves falling from the trees outside, I set to work making pumpkin soup for dinner. If I lived in a place with a year-round summer, I’d hardly eat any soups and this would be quite a shame. This is an easy recipe, with lots of pizzazz, which I have been making this way for years! It combines many elements of fall and the nearing winter: an orange color, hot taste and a frothy, light texture. I suggest going heavier on the spices and being generous with the white wine. You don’t need cream, but if you’re running low on comfort, then feel free to add a bit. Also feel free to play around with the spices. I’ve made this using a dash of cinnamon, with nutmeg and also honey.
I love serving this dish with freshly baked gluten-free baguette and a glass of cold dry white wine.
1 hokkaido pumpkin (about one kilo; you can also use a butternut squash pumpkin if you like)
(you can also add a potato or, too, if you like the taste)
2 small-ish onions
1 litre vegetable broth (or more or less, depending on how thick or thin you want your soup to be)
1 tbsp ground cumin
½ tbsp. ground turmeric (also known as curcuma)
½ tbsp. ground coriander
¼ tsp chilli powder or chili flakes
½ cup white wine
salt and pepper to taste
(1/2 cup whipping cream, if you’re feeling so inclined)
Pumpkin seed oil (for decoration)
Peel your pumpkin (if you’re using a hokkaido pumpkin, this part is optional, but I prefer a finer soup, so I go through the trouble), remove the seeds. Wash your pumpkin halves well, and cut them into cubes.
Peel your onion and cut it into eight pieces.
Set up a large pot on your stove, turn it on, add some vegetable oil and add the onion once it is warm. Let fry for about a minute, then add the pumpkin cubes and continue to fry. Add the vegetable broth and let the pumpkin boil. Add all the spices and stir them in well with a large spoon. Continue to cook, until pumpkin is tender, about twelve minutes. Turn off the stove, and puree the soup with the help of a hand blender (or your regular blender). Add the white wine, perhaps more of the vegetable broth. If necessary, add some more spices (e.g. pepper or chili flakes). If you want to add cream, now is the time. Turn on the stove again, let your soup come to a boil. Ladle into soup bowls and serve while still steaming and decorated with a dash of pumpkin seed oil.