pumpkin

MADRAS PUMPKIN AND LENTIL SOUP



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MADRAS PUMPKIN AND LENTIL SOUP

When creating food plans for my clients I find myself repeating : Batch cook soups, add beans and lentils for protein, freeze them, take to work for lunch. It has become a mantra.
I think that soups should be the first thing a person learns to cook. They are incredibly easy, versatile and practical, especially since they keep, freeze and reheat very well. They are an easy way to get a variety of vegetables into those who don’t like eating many (pesky children…).

The most difficult process about this soups is cutting up the pumpkin, I don’t particularly enjoy cutting through the hard skin of the squash. Even my large chef’s knife seems to get stuck inside the cut. Sometimes I feel that hammer and chisel would be a much better tool than a knife. However after struggling through the first cut things get easier. Of course you can make your job even easier and use a butter nut squash. (Or as I often do enlist the help of another person, usually my husband)

Finding a good curry powder is essential for this soups flavour. I tend to get mine from an Indian supermarket or use Steenbergs organic blends. Spice blends sold in supermarkets tend to have rather strange things added - milk powder???!!! Noooo! Yes, if you don’t want any dairy in your diet you have to check curry powders too. Madness! Some of the commercial curry blends tend to have funny aftertaste that just spoils the taste of the finished dish.

You can blend to soup but I do like a bit of a texture - I do get bored with the sameness of a large bowl of blended soup at times. This soup lends itself for a variety of toppings, coriander leaves, lime wedges, sliced chillies, sourdough croutons, coriander and mint chutney… I like to eat mine with fresh chopped coriander and a big squeeze of lime. And of course this soups is ideal for freezing!

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MADRAS PUMPKIN AND LENTIL SOUP
Serves 4-6

ingredients
1 kaboocha or sweet mamma squash
2 tsp coconut oil
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 inch piece of ginger, finely chopped (or grated with microplane grater)
3 large cloves of garlic, finely chopped or crushed
1 tbs madras spice mix (I used Steenbergs organic madras blend)
1/2 cup red lentils
6 cups vegetables stock
1 tin of coconut milk
lime
fresh coriander

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method
  • Using a heavy chef’s knife cut the pumpkin into wedges, remove the stringy inside with seeds.
  • Place onto a baking tray and bake at 200C for 30-40min till pumpkin flesh is soft and caramelised. Set aside and let cool.
  • When cool enough to handle remove the flesh from the skin (by the way the skin is edible too, use if you are planning to blend the soup smooth).
  • Heat the coconut oil in a large stock pot (this makes a big batch of soup) and add the onion. Saute till softened before adding the ginger and garlic and cook for another minutes stirring constantly taking care not to burn the ginger and garlic.
  • Add your curry spice and cook briefly for about 30 seconds.
  • Next add the pumpkin flesh, red lentils, 6 cups of vegetable stock and 1 tin of coconut milk.
  • Bring the soup to a boil, reduce the heat and cook for 30minuted until the soup is thick and lentils are cooked tender (falling apart into the soup).
  • I like to take a potato masher and mash any large pieces of pumpkin into the soup.
  • Add lime juice to taste and garnish with coriander leaves or any other toppings as suggested above.
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SWEET MAMA SQUASH BREAD

SWEET MAMA SQUASH BREAD

It may be long past Halloween but the pumpkin still rules. Sweet mama squash to be precise. As I learned from the Riverford website this is a late season variety. It has deep orange sweet flesh. And so many uses. I find it has much less water than most squashes and when roasted it comes out nearly crumbly yet with incredibly sweet intense flavour.

Pumpkins or winter squashes are not the easiest vegetables to deal with. Butternut squash is an exception, as it can be peeled with a regular swivel peeler and has less seeds. Sweet mama squash needs a bit of brute force to break into, very big sharp knife and lots of care if you want to preserve your fingers... The only way to peel it is to cut the squash into wedges first and than just careful cut the skin off the pieces. In my recipe there is not need for peeling, just roast the wedges and peel later (or just scrape the flesh away from the skin with a spoon).

My first recipe is for a pumpkin bread. I thought bread with hidden pumpkin sounded like a great idea and everything was going swimmingly until it was time to take it out of my super non-stick bread tin. That proved a challenge... eventually after I prised couple slices out I was able to lift the bread out. The lesson being : nothing is perfectly non-stick... and pumpkin bread is much stickier that the regular kind...

to roast the squash
Cut 1 squash into wedges, about 8, remove stringy flesh with seeds. Line a roasting sheet with a baking paper, coat the pumpkin with 1/2Tbs olive oil and roast in a 200C oven for about 25min. When pierced with knife the squash flesh should be soft and caramelised around the edges. Use 250g of the squash flesh for sweet mama recipe number 1 and keep the rest for tomorrow’s recipe.

roastedsquah

SWEET MAMA SQUASH BREAD

This is definitely not a sandwich bread, it is has more of a “cakey” texture. Great for breakfast with some jam or to accompany soup. You could also make small bread rolls out of this dough.

ingredients
250g (9oz) roasted sweet mama squash flesh, skin removed
1 sachet of instant yeast
1Tbs +1 tsp olive oil
250ml (1 cup) warm water
1 tsp salt
280-350g (2-2 1/2 cups) wholegrain spelt flour
1tsp salt
3 Tbs pumpkin seeds

risen dough
pumpkindough

method
  1. Mash the squash flesh.
  2. In a large bowl, mix the water, yeast and olive oil.
  3. Add the squash flesh and mix well. No need to add sugar as the squash has enough sugar in it to activate the yeast.
  4. Next start adding the salt, 2Tbs of pumpkin seed and flour (bit by bit), how much you need really depends on how dry your squash flesh was. Keep mixing as you add the flour.
  5. When the dough starts to come together turn it out on a floured board and kneed for about 7-10min. This dough is quite sticky you may have to add more flour.
  6. Spread the remaining olive oil on the ball of dough, place into a bowl, cover with cling film and leave to rise for 1 hour.
  7. When the dough has doubled in size turn it onto a floured surface and need again for about 2min. Place into a greased (or lined with grease-proof paper) bread tin. Let is rise for another 25min.
  8. Preheat the oven to 200C.
  9. Place into a preheated oven. Bake for about 30min until the bread is brown and sounds hollow when you knock on it.
  10. Let cool and enjoy.

pumpkinbread
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