Saturday 19 August 2017

Forkful's easy suppers: Pumpkin & Gruyère soup

Pumpkin & Gruyère soup. Photo: Mark Duggan
Pumpkin & Gruyère soup. Photo: Mark Duggan

Aoife McElwain

Pumpkins aren't just for Halloween, you know. I bet there are a bunch of discounted pumpkins for sale in your local food emporium. The leftovers from the spooky season, the wallflowers who weren't destined to become Jack-O-Lanterns. Why not make use of these beauties by making them into a deliciously autumnal soup?

Like a poached egg, a great soup is one of those seemingly simple dishes that actually takes a bit of skill and care to get it really, really right. For me, a great soup is all down to the ingredients.

There is no hiding from sub-par vegetables or cheap, bland cheese.

Gruyère is one of my favourite autumnal cheeses. The Swiss cheese is nutty, sweet and salty and it's at its best when it meets heat. Good Gruyères can be a little pricey, but they're always worth the money.

I've noticed recently that a few supermarkets are producing own-brand Gruyère-style cheese to varying degrees of quality. If you're in a pinch, a block of one of these should do the trick, but I'd recommend splashing out on a proper Gruyère or its French cousin Comté, as it will make the difference in your bowl of soup.

Another step in elevating soup is taking the time to roast the vegetables. It adds a little bit of time to the process but it pays off in the long run. I've taken a simpler route with this soup by simply boiling the pumpkin flesh, but you could throw the chunks into a roasting dish with some garlic, rosemary and oil and roast them for 20 minutes before adding them to your soup pot, bringing out a sweetness in the soup.

Pumpkin & Gruyère soup

Serves 4

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cooking Time: 35 minutes

INGREDIENTS

1 onion

2 carrots

3 cloves of garlic

Olive or vegetable oil

Half a small pumpkin (or a quarter of a large one)

1 fresh sprig of rosemary

500ml of good quality vegetable or chicken stock

100g of Gruyère cheese

Salt

Pepper

Handful of hazelnuts or walnuts, to serve

Crusty bread, to serve

METHOD

1. Peel and roughly chop the onion, carrots and garlic cloves.

2. In a good heavy-based saucepan or soup pot, heat a little drizzle of oil over a medium heat. Throw in the onion, carrots and garlic, and gently fry for about 10 minutes or until the onion is translucent.

3. While the onion is cooking, peel the pumpkin and remove the seeds. Slice into chunks about 2cm wide and thick.

4. When the onions are cooked, add the pumpkin to the pot along with the fresh rosemary. Stir and cook for a couple of minutes before adding the chicken stock. Make sure the pumpkin is just covered by the stock, topping up with a splash of hot water if you have to.

5. Let the soup bubble away for 20 minutes, or until the pumpkin is tender and cooked through. Then, take the soup off the heat and remove the rosemary sprig before using a hand-held blender to blitz the soup until smooth. Add a good generous pinch of salt and pepper, too.

6. Roughly grate the Gruyère cheese into the soup. stir it around until it's deliciously melted. Serve the soup with a bit more grated Gruyère and a sprinkling of finely chopped hazelnuts or walnuts on top.

This week's storecupboard essential:

Hand-held blender: These little guys are a versatile tool, essential for a well-functioning kitchen. They are an inexpensive piece of kit that allows you to blitz up soup. Some of the better ones can even whizz up hummus. As winter envelops us, it's time to dust off your handy blender.

Irish Independent

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