Roast Pumpkin and Corn Chowder
Now the cold weather is finally upon us (wow, what a long hot summer) we can start really enjoying all those comfort foods that I certainly love. Is there anything better than making a large pot of soup that can feed the family for a few suppers? They’re a great way to use up any vegetables you’ve been hoarding at the back of the fridge and many soups can be frozen in batches so you’ve always got a quick and tasty meal at the touch of a button. Soups are also a great dish to serve if you have a lot of hungry guests arriving for an event or party such as Bonfire Night.
This soup, which uses up any glut of pumpkins left over from Halloween, is gloriously thick and rich but also has a little kick of heat from chillies which is exactly what you need when standing outside waiting for the bangers to go off! The thing about pumpkin is that even though it produces a wonderfully velvety soup it can be a little bland in flavour but roasting it first with a little cumin or fennel can really help bring out its nuttiness. You should also try and find the little pumpkins, such as the harlequin or munchkin pumpkins, which have much more flavour than the extremely bland large carving ones. The other thing I love about this soup is that it comes in its own edible bowl. I’ve included the recipe to make your own bread bowls but if time is against you, you can easily buy some crusty bread rolls, just make sure you bake them a little before you serve the soup so that they have an extra crispy crust.
Start with the bread by combining all the ingredients in a large bowl and then kneading for about 10 min until soft. Place the dough back into the bowl, cover with cling film and leave it to rise for at least an hour or until doubled in size.
Once the dough has risen, knock it back on an oiled surface and divide the dough into four and shape into rounds. Lay out on a baking sheet and cover again with cling film and set aside for 30 min whilst you pre-heat the oven to 200C.
When you’re ready to bake, spritz each loaf with water, then place a roasting tin in the oven and when the oven comes up to temperature pour some water into the tray to create some steam. Place the loaves into the oven on 200C for 10 min then turn down the oven to 180C for 25-30 min. They will be ready when they sound hollow when tapped on the bottom – set aside on a wire rack to cool completely.
To make the soup, lay the pumpkin in a roasting tin with a little olive oil and the fennel seeds and chilli flakes and roast on 170C for about 30 min until the pumpkin is tender, beginning to turn golden.
Meanwhile, in a large pan, melt some butter and olive oil and sauté the onions, carrots, potato and celery until they are soft, adding some fresh herbs and seasoning about halfway through – this should take about 10 min on a gentle heat. Then tip in the roasted pumpkin and frozen sweetcorn, cover with stock and let it simmer for about 15-20 min. Turn off the heat and let the soup cool for about 10 min before you blitz with a hand blender. We like our soup with chunks of vegetables in but you can go as smooth as you like.
When you’re ready to serve, place the rolls back into a hot oven for about 5 min to totally firm up the crusts then cut a lid off the top of the bowls, scoop out the bread and fill the bowls with soup.