Jamie Oliver’s Ministry of Food – Superb Pumpkin Soup with Parmesan Croutons

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This is a fantastic soup – it’s important to use good chicken stock and season the soup well to bring out the nutty, sweet flavour of the pumpkin. Once you’ve mastered this recipe, you can take the soup in different ways by adding pearl barley, dried pasta, or some chopped smoked bacon, if you like.

Ingredients

Equipment list

  • Speed peeler
  • Knife
  • Cutting board
  • Large saucepan with a lid
  • Measuring spoons
  • Large spoon
  • Small bowl
  • Paper towels
  • Slotted spoon
  • Liquid measuring cup
  • Hand blender or blender
  • Grater
  • Bowls for serving

For the Soup:

  • 2 red onions
  • 2 carrots
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 2 sticks celery
  • 2 sprigs of fresh rosemary
  • ½ – 1 fresh red chilli, to taste
  • 2kg pumpkin
  • olive oil
  • 16 fresh sage leaves
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 litres chicken or vegetable stock, preferably organic
  • extra virgin olive oil

For the croutons:

  • 16 slices of ciabatta bread
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • a block of Parmesan cheese, for grating

Notes

Jamie’s top tips

  • If you don’t have a blender or hand blender, mash the soup with a potato masher, it won’t be perfectly smooth but it’ll still taste delicious!
  • Hard pumpkins are tough to cut. Make sure you’re using a good sharp knife and always work with the cut-side of the pumpkin facing down so you don’t slip.
  • You can peel the pumpkin or leave the skin on – whichever you prefer. Peeled pumpkin will give you a nice smooth texture, but you may find you prefer a coarser texture.
  • Think of this as a master recipe for puréed vegetable soups. Stick to the same proportions but try swapping some carrots, potato, cauliflower or sweet potatoes for the pumpkin.
  • If you want to experiment with different flavours why not finish it with some interesting toppings, such as toasted nuts and seeds, crumbled or grated cheese, some bashed up herbs mixed with a splash of oil and lemon juice, or a lovely dollop of yoghurt.

Method

To make your soup

1. Peel and chop the red onions, carrots and garlic. Trim and chop the celery. Pick the rosemary leaves and discard the stalks. Deseed and finely chop the chilli. Carefully halve the pumpkin lengthways, scoop out the seeds with a spoon and cut into chunks.

2. Line a small bowl with kitchen paper. Put a very large saucepan on a medium heat and add a couple of lugs of olive oil. Add the sage leaves and fry for around 30 seconds, or until dark green and crisp. Quickly remove them with a slotted spoon to the bowl lined with kitchen paper – you’ll use these for sprinkling over at the end.

3. Put the pan of oil back on the heat and add the onion, carrot, garlic, celery, rosemary leaves, chilli and a good pinch of salt and pepper. Cook gently for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are sweet and soft. Add the pumpkin and the stock to the pan and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for around 30 minutes.

To make your croutons

4. While the soup is cooking, make your croutons. Cut your ciabatta into 1cm thick slices. Drizzle a little extra virgin olive oil over the ciabatta slices and pat it in. Finely grate a layer of Parmesan over each slice and press it onto the bread.

5. Place in a non-stick pan without any oil and fry on a medium heat until golden on both sides. These are delicious and will go with just about any soup you want to make.

To serve your soup and croutons

6. When the pumpkin is soft and cooked through, whiz the soup with a hand blender or pour it into a liquidizer and pulse until you have a smooth purée (but you can leave it slightly chunky if you like). Have a taste and season with salt and pepper until it’s perfect.

7. Divide the soup between your bowls, placing 2 croutons on top of each. Top each portion with 2 crispy sage leaves and drizzle with a swirl of good-quality extra virgin olive oil.

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