Pumpkin and Apple Soup

Pumpkin and Apple Soup 

It's Hallowe'en weekend and so pumpkin is on the menu.  There are two soup recipes in The Soup Book involving pumpkins: Monty Don's pumpkin soup (which includes potatoes and tomatoes) and Jeanette Orrey's pumpkin and apple soup. I was going to make both, but then changed my mind, having decided to make fudge (more on this later). I asked the spouse to choose between the two recipes and he opted for the latter. He does the shopping, so he deserves the power of choice. Sometimes.

He headed off to the shopping centre and after a while he phoned to say there were no pumpkins left and that I should call down to "Young Stephen" (our local green grocer). So out the door with me in my new faux fur leopard print coat on the trail of pumpkins. I arrived down at Young Stephen's place of business to find one big pumpkin and lots of little ones. (When did little pumpkins come into vogue?) I bought the big one and when I got home decided to make double the quantity.
The recipe calls for butter, onion, pumpkin, sharp-tasting apples, vegetable or chicken stock, seasoning and toasted pumpkin seeds (the seeds are for the garnish). I can be quite thrifty (bordering on parsimonious sometimes) so every year when we buy pumpkins to make Jack o' lanterns, I always try to do something useful with the flesh. Over the years I have tried various soup recipes, some of which have sounded promising but have always turned out quite bland. I think I even made a pumpkin pie once. Anyway, here's a photo of this year's Jack o' lantern.

I got out the smaller of my two dekshees, melted the butter and gently cooked the onion. Then I stirred in the diced pumpkin and apple.

Eventually I was ready to blend and sieve the cooked soup. You'll see from the photo below that there were some differences in the batches of soup. On the left is the blended soup from the blender part of my food processor and on the right is the batch from the liquidiser part. The blended batch was still quite chunky, so I liquidised what was left in the sieve and added it to the liquidised batch to ensure that the entire soup would have as much flavour as possible. And the dominant flavour of the finished soup is apple, followed by the stock. I have dry-roasted the seeds from the pumpkin for the garnish - they taste good.

Recipe round-up

The last couple of weeks have been hectic in Minnie-land. We had visitors last weekend so there was no soup. I've done a lot of baking - white chocolate and hazelnut brownies from Good Housekeeping's Baking, orange and honey tea loaf from Martha Day's Baking, and a rich chocolate and orange cake from Gill MacLennan's Chocolate. The spouse and I made curries for dinner last Saturday. The spouse uses this recipe for dhal and spinach (click here) and it's very good.

Earlier today, while preparing the pumpkin and apple soup, I made fudge. Every so often I crave fudge and have a go at making it - not always successfully. In the last couple of years I have made it with condensed milk rather than evaporated milk, still with mixed success rates. Two years ago we went to a food fair at the Royal Dublin Society (RDS) grounds and I spoke to a woman who was making fudge professionally. Her secret, she said, was to be brave and keep boiling the mix. So this afternoon I took out my St Patrick's Pantry: A Recipe Collection and attempted proper Protestant fudge. The recipe was submitted by Sandra Lindsay and simply involves boiling 14 oz evaporated milk, 2 lb sugar, 8 oz icing sugar, 1 cup milk, 4 oz butter and a few drops of vanilla essence together for about 50 minutes. I just went for the boil and didn't even take out my cooking thermometer (we've had this since our home-made country wine making days in the early 1980s!).And here's the finished product. I can feel my teeth shuddering.


What's the buzz?

I haven't mentioned bees for a while so here goes. The spouse sent me a link to Brain Pickings (Curating Electic Interestingness from Culture's Collective Brain) and there's an interesting page about bees.

Less worthy but worth looking at nonetheless is Theo Fennell's Bee Collection jewellery! This page features the line "Where the bee sucks, there suck I" from The Tempest (Shakespeare). I remember singing these lines at secondary school:

Where the bee sucks, there suck I:
In a cowslip's bell I lie;
There I couch when owls do cry.
On the bat's back I do fly
After summer merrily.
Merrily, merrily shall I live now
Under the blossom that hangs on the bough.


Stalked by celebrities 

And finally, I was spotted by Helen Mirren last Wednesday at the Abbey Theatre! She was in the audience, mingling with the rest of us who had gone to see Alan Rickman, Lindsay Duncan and Fiona Shaw in Frank McGuinness's version of Ibsen's "John Gabriel Borkman."  We had a great night.

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