So this pumpkin’s been in the food cupboard, getting in the way. It’s been there for a while. At least since before Christmas. I have a nasty feeling it was snagged as a post-Halloween bargain. Which makes the darn thing at least three months old. It’s not soft or sagging, but it’s also significantly past the seriously over-zealous use-by date on the sticker on the side of the thing. The sticker telling me it’s a pumpkin as opposed to, I dunno, a mutant carrot or a novelty DVD player. Nonetheless, there it sits, accusingly in the food cupboard, daring me to make use of it.
It goes in the oven for an hour, after I chop it in half longitudinally, scoop out all the seeds and fibres, glug in some olive oil and, as a last thought, a head of garlic split into cloves and split evenly over the two halves. Once the flesh offers no resistance to the point of a knife, I set it aside and let it cool, while I cook off a couple of big shallots in a big pan. The spongy pumpkin soaks up all the garlic-scented oil. I pop the garlic out of it’s skin, and squish it into a rough pulp with my fingers.
When it’s cool enough to handle, I turn the pumpkin halves inside out, whch is the quickest way of getting the flesh away from the skin. A quick chop, then the pumpkin and garlic join the shallots in the hot pan.
It needs stock, and as I can’t be arsed to defrost any from the freezer, I make do with one of those strange gelatinous things that an angry TV chef endorses. It’s ok, but I know that the soup won’t need any extra salt. 500mls, a Pyrex jug full of stock go into the pan. After a five minute bubble, I chuck in a couple of tablespoons of a curry paste that’s kicking around in the fridge, and half a can of coconut milk. Then it bubbles gently for half an hour.
When we’re ready for it, I blitz the soup with my trusty blending wand until it’s silky smooth and unctuous. It’s sweet, warmingly spicy and moreish. We eat it with a toasted muffin apiece, and some nutty sheep’s cheese grated over. We like Issou D’Iraty, but most Dutch cheeses will do nicely. Nothing too cheddary with this one. It needs sweet mildness.
A pumpkin the size of a volleyball gave us enough soup for a light Sunday supper, with enough left for TLC’s tea tomorrow. It was nice to get there, even if it took a while.