Vegan Pumpkin Soup

Vegan Pumpkin Soup
Vegan Pumpkin Soup

I try not to get into my 'slug' mode after breaks but invariably I do it! I have been sitting up with facebook, flickr and my mail open, but I just could not bring myself to open my 'dashboard'. It isn't like I haven't cooked or baked. Ironically I have been doing lots of it. I guess I should attribute the gap to my current obsession with catching up on reading and watching movies from my generation, and possibly that I did not cook up anything that made my taste buds come alive with tingles or made my eyebrows shoot up in wonder. Yes, the last one seems the most plausible reason because it does not seem like an excuse!

The perked up state came back yesterday when we had over the family for an intimate dinner. I like Saturday nights - I am upbeat about it being the first day of the weekend and that it will be followed by Sunday! In case you are perky about Mondays and in love with your work, this might sound like I am one of the 'depressed at work' species, which is not true most of the time, for I follow the 'work with music' routine. There are some wonderful aspects about my work that I love, that cannot be shared in this space - apart from the paycheck, of course which will always have loads of room for improvement! It is just that I am in a phase where everything else seems more interesting than work. You know the grass is greener thing, right? I am right there, on that patch, craning my neck and finding every other profession except mine so much more rewarding! Right now though, I am enjoying spewing it all off here on the blog and waiting for that phase to go away.

Ok... I am heading back back to the purpose of this post! My brother-in-law who stays abroad is here for a month and his visits are always brimming over with lunch and dinner dates. I had booked last night for reasons already explained and we had the entire brood home for dinner except one nephew who was out with his friends. Majority of my husbands' side consists of non-vegetarians (count shows three vegetarians excluding my children), which means that I have to make quite an effort to see that anything vegan is appreciated for its independent taste and not because the dishes are 'good-enough-for-something-that's-vegan'. I also decided I wasn't going to compromise on health and use cashew paste or almond paste to enrich the dish. P suggested I make the pumpkin soup which he said was rich despite not having any cream. I wasn't sure because a traditional Indian dinner is not preceded by soup, especially when it is served at home. Maybe a rasam or a kadhi (these are quite like soups and work as appetizers and digestives as well) but not a soup. P pressurized and I relented. That is how the pumpkin soup got on to the dinner table and became the highlight of the evening letting me know that most often it is takes only a simple dish to satisfy the palate.

The good thing about pumpkin is that once pureed it has a smooth, creamy texture that eliminates the need for cream or cornflour. All one needs is to balance the spice level, flavour and the level of sweetness which depends on the pumpkin variety. It is always good to have your freezer stocked with a good homemade vegetable stock which comes in handy at such moments. It tastes better than off-the-shelf soup cubes any day and is healthy as well. You can check out an easy recipe from my archives - my last post was vegan soup stock. If you do not have the time go ahead with ready stock cubes but add a 1" stick of cinnamon, 2 cloves, 2 crushed cloves of garlic and 1 bay leaf with a tsp. of olive oil to the pumpkins while steaming.

This dish is so easy and yet impressive, I suggest you have music on. You will want to dance while the soup spreads it aroma, or maybe after your guests leave?

Dish : Vegan Pumpkin Soup
Serves : 10-12 cups

Vegan soup stock - 2 cups [* if using your own please read foregoing paragraph]
Second extract of coconut milk - 2 cups [OR dilute one cup of canned coconut milk with one cup of water and use]
Pumpkin - 1 kg
Water - 1 cup
Green chilli, minced well - 1 small
Salt and pepper as per taste
Coconut cream (optional)

Vegan Pumpkin Soup
Vegan Pumpkin Soup

Peel the pumpkin, cut off the fibre, cut into big chunks and cook covered, with a cup of water seasoned with half a teaspoon of pink salt. If using smaller, whole pumpkins, you could also roast them in the oven till tender and scoop the flesh.

Cool and puree using a blender. Add the coconut milk and stock.

Warm the soup stirring all the while. Add the chilli a minute later, stir and heat but do not scald. Adjust salt as per taste.

I serve pepper separately. You may garnish the soup with a drizzle of coconut cream or olive oil. I meant to add coconut cream and forgot, but no one missed it.

My take on this:
Serve with homemade grissini, herb sticks or with some really good bread. The combination tastes so good, you will have to keep room for seconds and also space before you serve the mains. Just the soup will work well too but I like the idea of bread and soup together.

I made pflaumkuchen for a low-fat dessert. They were well loved but I felt they were perfect for breakfast or tea rather than dessert. In fact, we had a few left over pieces this morning and they tasted so good I think I will be making this more often for breakfast henceforth!

Have you tried white pumpkins in soup? They have this totally Indian flavor and taste awesome. You could try my suggestions for a party menu and believe me, I will be floored if you tell me you did.

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