Roasted Pumpkin & Garlic Soup

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So this is how you make effortless, tasty and satisfying soup in minutes. Soup doesn’t have to be complicated nor does it need a whole bunch of ingredients to leave your mouth watering for more. I grew up using yellow or red split peas as a base for thick soups. But as the split peas release no flavour of their own, I found myself adding tons of ingredients, and root vegetables which meant more time in the kitchen and less time doing the other things I enjoyed doing.

This soup however is complete in 3 easy steps: roast, blend, boil.

And if you have any left over, it could work as a good based for a pasta dish or stew. The dense sweet nutty flavour of this variety of pumpkin (normally sold in caribbean markets) when roasted needs very little to enhance its flavour more. You can add more or less water to achieve the consistency you want. I think you’re going to really like this one…;-)

Roasted Pumpkin and Garlic Soup

Ingredients:

600g Raw Pumpkin (leave skin on)

Half White Onion

Half Garlic Head (sliced down centre)

Drizzle of Olive Oil

4-5 Sprigs Fresh Thyme

1 Scotch Bonnet

1/2 vegetable stock cube

1 tsp garlic/ ginger paste

Salt/ pepper to taste

1 1/2 cups water

Method:

Pre-heat oven to Gas Mark 8

Place Pumpkin, onion and garlic into a roasting tin and drizzle with oil, salt and pepper. Remove any excess skin from the onion and garlic to reduce burning.

Place in oven for 23-30 minutes or until the pumpkin is tender

Remove the tin from the oven and allow to cool for 15 minutes before scooping the pumpkin flesh, squeezing the garlic bulbs out of its shell and removing the outer skin from the now caramelised onion.

Transfer to a large pot with the remaining ingredients on the list. Boil for 5-6 minutes gently breaking up the vegetables.

Then allow it to cool for 10 minutes before transferring all the ingredients (except the thyme and pepper) into a blender until smooth. Return the soup to the pot and continue boiling for 5 minutes, season to taste and serve!

West African Peanut Stew

 

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Thick, thin or soupy. Depending on where you are, peanut stews can be found across the whole of West Africa. This is one dish I really wanted to get right, it had to be as authentic as I could possibly get it without having to grind the peanuts to make butter myself. This dish is usually made with chicken, but as someone who is attempting but failing badly to wean off meat, I thought I would try and make this with vegetables.

The question was, which vegetables to use and to combine. My choice was based on several factors: texture, colour, and combination. As I would be missing meat, I had to make up for that with giving the stew something to chew on. IMG_7451No one likes over-cooked discoloured vegetables, well I don’t and so I needed vegetables that could hold their form, or at least help thicken the stew. I decided against courgettes for that very reason: they tend to get very watery when cooked and lose both colour and texture. Aubergines on the other hand taste better when they melt away into a pulp, especially helpful for this thick sauce. And then the small black flecks of eggplant skin still shine through the soup.

Then in honour of this stews ‘roots’ (sorry for the pun), sweet potato was an easy choice, it forms the ‘meat’ of this stew. The mushrooms also help to add a depth of flavour and save you having to add a heap of water to the dish, you want a fairly intense sauce.

Try and keep the vegetables as chunky as possible and add them in stages, I added to green sweet pepper, right at the end when all was said and done (i.e. cooked) for example as again I wanted to retain the bright green colour and crunchy texture. You will really enjoy this with the coconut and lime rice also on the blog…happy cooking!

West African Peanut Stew

  • Servings: 4-5 servings
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

1 large (orange flesh) Sweet Potato – cut into chunks
1 large Aubergine – cut into cubes
1 cup mushrooms – roughly chopped
3 spring onions – cut into 2 inch pieces
1/2 medium onion – chopped finely
1 tbsp grated fresh ginger
1 cup of chopped plum tomatoes (and juice)
1/2 medium green sweet pepper- chopped 1″ squares
4 garlics crushes
3 sprigs thyme
3/4 cup peanut butter

To Temper

1 tsp tumeric
1 whole scotch bonnet
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp black pepper
4 whole cloves
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp fenugeek powder
1 tsp corriander powder
1/2 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp of Asafoetida

salt to taste
Roasted peanuts (garnish)

Method

Heat 3 tbsp oil in a large pot. Add the chopped aubergine to the pot and let it cook for about 5 minutes stirring frequently. You can cover the pot with a lid, lower the heat and allow the juices from the aubergine to soften it. When its cooked, take it out the pot and set it aside.

In the same pot, add 2 tsp of oil and all the ingredients under ‘to temper’, fry gently under a medium heat for about 30 seconds. Then add all the onions, garlic and thyme the temper and fry until the onions have softened. Then add the mushrooms followed by the aubergine and all it to cook gently.

Then add all the remaining ingredients to the pot except the peanut butter: you want to dissolve the butter in some hot water first to help distribute it. Then add the peanut butter to the pot with all the other ingredients (except the green peppers). Cook under a medium heat, stirring occasionally for about 20 mins or until the potato is cooked.

Season to taste. Serve with rice