Is it silly to think that making this soup for a recent big weekend cook-up was somehow even more homely and wholesome because it was done in my shiny new red pot?  Seeing all the colourful vegies in there, with the unruly tops of my market-day beetroot also sneaking into the frame, was just the thing to inspire industrious home-making thoughts. Soup, with homemade stock, was the order of the day.

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We have fond memories of a knockout pumpkin soup we enjoyed at the London Fifteen restaurant a few years back.  Among all the dishes that we sampled that day, we agreed that the soup starter had stolen the show.  This version, which follows the recipe in Jamie’s Dinners with only minor changes, was a more straightforward affair but still tasty and satisfying. And, seeing as it made a vatful in quantity, the leftovers gave us the opportunity to take the soup in a different direction with the addition of some greens and unusual ravioli.   I’m sending over our second variation on this soup over to Jacqueline for this month’s No Croutons Required, which asks for ideas for soups or salads featuring leaves.  Even though pumpkin soup is usually pretty uniformly smooth in texture, the idea of using the soup as a background to other flavours and textures appealed to me.   I spied some stunning beetroot ravioli at the greengrocer that I wanted to try but which I thought might not work with our usual pasta sauces.  So in that went; plus, stirring some baby greens into the soup is a great way of sneaking in some extra veg and is a snap to do.  Who says that orange, pink and green can’t look good together?

IMG_4053_1Take 1: Simple pumpkin soup with sage
Adapted from Jamie’s Dinners

olive oil
handful fresh sage leaves
2 red onions, sliced into thick half moons
2 sticks celery, trimmed and chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
4 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
2 sprigs rosemary, leaves picked
2kg butternut pumpkin (squash), cut into rough chunks
2L vegetable stock
creme fraiche or sour cream, for dolloping

In a very large saucepan, heat some olive oil until hot and drop in the sage leaves.  When they have sizzled and crisped up, take them out to drain on some paper towel.  Set aside the leaves until you are ready to eat.

Into the remaining hot oil, tip in the onion, celery, carrot, garlic and rosemary, and saute on low heat for about 10-15 minutes until the onion has softened.   Then add the pumpkin and stock, bring to the boil and simmer for about half an hour or until all the vegetables are soft.

Take off the heat and puree the soup with a hand blender.  Season well with salt and pepper.

To serve, add a generous dollop of creme fraiche and top with some crispy sage leaves.

Yield: 8 servings

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Take 2: Pumpkin soup with beetroot ravioli and baby spinach

Seeing as this is more an idea than a recipe, my tips on this one are a little freeform…

- heat some pumpkin soup
– find some stunning filled fresh pasta (eg beetroot ravioli!) and cook according to instructions
– at the bottom of each soup bowl, place a generous handful of baby spinach
– ladle over the hot soup, and stir gently to wilt the leaves
– top with a few ravioli, and, of course, some creme fraiche and sage leaves.

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