Thai style pumpkin and cauliflower soup

Yes, friends, Summer is feeling like a long time ago (and a long time to come around again).

Our hats have been replaced with beanies, shorts with warm pants and I am well and truly wearing layers and gloves on my morning walk. My car’s windscreen is already icy in the morning (having given up my spot in the garage to a cubby house that has been under construction for far too long), and the kids have been asking for hot chocolates instead of their usual smoothies.

So I guess it is no surprise that hearty, comfort food has returned to our weekly meal plans. The slow cooker is generally on my kitchen bench, or a stew slowly bubbling away in the oven.  And, when I am feeling particularly needy of a cosy meal, a soup will almost certainly be on the stove top.

This Thai-style pumpkin and cauliflower soup made a welcomed appearance a little while ago. The vegetables were roasted, then combined with red curry paste, onion, chicken stock and a little coconut milk. Cooked and blended to perfection, then topped with fresh coriander, a drizzle of coconut milk and some fried wonton wrappers.

Hearty and delicious! With a great yield too so we had lots leftover for lunch and dinner the following days.

Print Recipe
Thai style pumpkin and cauliflower soup
Course Soup
Cuisine Vegetarian
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 1.5 hours
Servings
people
Ingredients
Course Soup
Cuisine Vegetarian
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 1.5 hours
Servings
people
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 180C and line 2 trays with baking paper.
  2. Place the pumpkin and cauliflower on the trays and drizzle with olive oil. Roast for 40 minutes or until soft and golden. Remove from oven and set-aside.
  3. Heat a little olive oil in a large saucepan, and sauté the onion until starting to soften. Add the curry paste, and cook - stirring - for one minute.
  4. Add the stock and bring to a simmer. Add the pumpkin and cauliflower and simmer for 15 minutes.
  5. Use a stick blender to blend the soup until smooth. Stir in half of the coconut milk and season as necessary.
  6. Divide the soup amongst serving bowls. Tope with an extra drizzle of coconut milk, the wonton strips and fresh coriander.
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Poached chicken and orange salad

I have, over the years, accumulated a few kitchen ‘gadgets’ that I would now not be without. My food processor and blender get a decent workout on a weekly (if not, daily, basis) and I am in love with my garlic press and citrus zester.

Recently I added a new gadget to my collection – a spiraliser! A gadget that is in no way ‘necessary’, as such, but one that is proving to be a great and interesting addition to the pantry. I’ve spiralised zucchini for pasta, carrots and sweet potatoes for salads, and on this particular occasion – pumpkin.

On the menu? A poached chicken salad with roasted carrots and broccoli, and spiralised pumpkin. Finished with orange slices, almonds and an orange / ginger dressing.

The recipe was inspired by one I found in a Donna Hay magazine, from memory. The chicken was poached in almond milk, garlic and ginger, which was interesting in itself (and reminded me just how simple yet delicious freshly poached chicken can be). I loved the addition of fruit to the salad too, which gave the dish a wonderfully light Summer feel.

Stay tuned for more spiralised salads I suspect!

Print Recipe
Poached chicken and orange salad
Course Salad
Servings
people
Ingredients
Course Salad
Servings
people
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 180C and line a baking tray with baking paper. Place the broccoli and carrot on the tray, and spray lightly with oil. Bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown.
  2. Place the chicken, almond milk, garlic and 1 tbs ginger in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer, then reduce heat to low and cook for 15 minutes. Set aside to cool slightly, then transfer the chicken to a board and shred.
  3. Heat 1 tbs oil in a frypan over a medium heat. Cook the pumpkin for a few minutes, stirring, until just softened. Meanwhile, combine the orange juice, 1 tsp ginger and 1 tbs olive oil in a small bowl to make a dressing.
  4. Divide the baby spinach, roasted vegetables, chicken and orange among serving bowls. Top with flaked almonds, and drizzle with the orange ginger dressing, to taste.
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Miso Pumpkin Soup

It’s minus 4 outside as I type this post, with an expected top of 10 (which we will reach after midday, if we are lucky).  There is a heavy layer of frost on the grass, and ice on the cars in the street, although the sky is clear and there is no fog to be seen.

If I’m to be honest, the chilly winter is not all that surprising, really. We had a pretty awesome summer… and it always seems that the hotter the summer =  the colder the winter. In Canberra, at least.

So while I am 100% a summer girl, after 18 years in Canberra (???) I am slowly becoming acclimatised to the joys of the Canberra winter.  I’ve got a decent collection of beanies and gloves, along with some great warm jackets, and have even mastered the art of layering. Our hydronic in-slab heating goes a long way in helping me forget just how cold it is outside too.

But then there is the food. Winter inevitably means that my slow cooker comes out at least a few times a week, bringing with it hearty stews and casseroles. Homemade soups also make a frequent appearance – the aim being to warm oneself up from the inside out.

On this particular occasion I went with a pumpkin soup. But not just any pumpkin soup. This one was jazzed up with miso paste and ginger (inspired by a recipe I found in a recent Taste magazine edition). It also had a lovely creamy texture owing to the addition of coconut milk, and a little zing from fresh lime juice. 

We served the soup with some loaded toasties. From recollection – there was avocado and tomato on one, and a swiss cheese, mustard and ham combination on the other.

But the soup.

Oh the soup.

Delicious, easy, and definitely a winter warmer!! With the added bonus that we now have a few serves in the freezer too.

Miso Pumpkin Soup (serves 4 – 6)

  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2tbs minced ginger
  • 1tbs  minced garlic
  • 1 butternut pumpkin, peeled and cut into cubes
  • 2 tomatoes, diced
  • 120g white miso paste
  • 400ml coconut milk
  • 3 cups vegetable stock or water
  • Zest and juice of 1 lime
  • Salt and pepper
  • coriander leaves to serve
  1. Heat a little olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic  and ginger and cook for a minute – stirring.
  2. Add the pumpkin, tomatoes and miso paste – stirring to coat well.
  3. Add the coconut milk / stock, and simmer – covered – for 30 minutes or until the pumpkin is soft. Blend until smooth.
  4. Add the lime juice and zest, and season to taste.
  5. Serve in bowls, and top with coriander.

Roasted pumpkin, quinoa and feta salad

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It’s safe to say, I’m a salad girl.

Perhaps it was ingrained in me when I was young – when a big bowl of salad would make an appearance on the family dinner table every other night. Although, on reflection, those salads were pretty standard and definitely reflective of the time. No mesculin or interesting tomato varieties – just plain ol’ icerberg lettuce, white onion, carrot and cucumber, topped with sliced cheddar cheese and drizzled with, most probably,  French dressing. Out of a bottle.

Then came high school, when I would usually spend my lunch money on a freshly made salad roll (being sure to ask for ‘no beetroot’ as it made the roll soggy by lunchtime).

Flash-forward to uni, where my love of salad continued. In fact, with a ‘poor’ uni student budget meaning a lot of my meals consisted of hot chips and beer from the uni pub after class, I really looked forward to the treat of a warm chicken salad a few times a week from a  favourite local cafe.

Over the years, my salads have become a little fancier. The local greengrocer stocks a good range of interesting salad leaves, tomato varieties and I should probably take out shares in avocados given the amount I consume!  And while cheddar cheese doesn’t normally feature in my salads any more, other cheeses, such as feta, sure do!

I’ve heard that famous catch-cry  “you don’t win friends with salad”,  but l I beg to differ. For a salad that graced our dinner table over the weekend, when we had some dear friends around for a BBQ, did not disappoint. And I’m pretty sure that our friendship remains intact. Despite salad, a roasted pumpkin and feta salad in fact, being served.

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I could give you the recipe – but there really is not a lot to it. Simply slices of jap pumpkin and red onion, drizzled with olive oil and baked for 30 minutes at 180C. Then drizzled again – this time with balsamic vinegar – and roasted for a further 20 minutes until golden.

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Combined with a cup of cooked quinoa (I used white as that was what I had), a pile of mesculin and a cup of various mini tomatoes which I had halved. Finished with a liberal amount of crumbled feta and a squeeze of lemon juice.

IMG_7961 Yes I think this love affair will be a long one!

What about you? Are you a salad fan?

Pumpkin yoghurt pasta

IMG_4952 A little while ago now, I decided to get creative with our evening pasta meal. I had a quarter pumpkin in the fridge, that I opted to use as the base of our pasta sauce. Simply – roasted until soft, then processed with a half cup of yoghurt and a generous sprinkle of chilli flakes. IMG_4926IMG_4929 As for the rest of the dish, well that was pretty simple too. Cherry tomatoes and diced smoked chicken, sautéed in a little olive oil until golden brown – before adding the pumpkin sauce. IMG_4945 Combined with some angel hair pasta that I had cooked to al dente..and finished with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and a handful of basil leaves… IMG_4943 And well I was rather chuffed with how this dish turned out! IMG_4946 Pretty spring colours, and the deception of a creamy sauce without the calories! IMG_4947 Definitely a keeper! What about you? Tried any fun pasta combinations lately?

Pumpkin and tuna tart

IMG_1920 This dish is a fine example of what can happen when you have a bunch of random ingredients and a bit of spare time on your hands. For with a pumpkin nearing its use by date, and some tuna and eggs begging to be used, I found myself rolling out a batch of shortcrust pastry to make a rather random tart. IMG_1912 I roasted the peeled diced pumpkin, until soft and just starting to take on some colour. Then layered it in the pastry, along with 3 beaten eggs, 1 small tin of tuna, 100g of light sour cream, some sliced red onion and a few sprigs of fresh rosemary. IMG_1913 Then into the oven at 180C for 30 minutes, until the eggs had cooked and the tart was golden brown. IMG_1917 The result being a lovely little tart that was just perfect for a light lunch when served with a side salad. IMG_1921 And a random, albeit yummy, take on the ol’ quiche! What about you? Cooked any savoury tarts lately?

Honey pumpkin risotto take 2

IMG_3007 When this gorgeous pumpkin graced our countertop, I knew exactly what I would make with it. Something hearty, something warming… IMG_2992 Risotto! IMG_2994 But not just any risotto. A honey pumpkin risotto – for those two ingredients seem to go together so very well indeed. IMG_2997 I basically followed this recipe, roasting the peeled diced pumpkin that I had drizzled with olive oil and honey. IMG_2998 Then got to work on the risotto itself. Onion, garlic, white wine, aborio rice and stock. IMG_3000 Gradually cooked, stirring, stirring, until I had myself a big pan of creamy risotto. Finished with the honey pumpkin, parmesan, lemon zest and parsley. IMG_3001IMG_2999 All together now! IMG_3002 Well I was looking for a meal that was hearty, and warming, and that is exactly what I got. IMG_3004 I particularly loved the little bites of caramelised pumpkin, with their hints of honeyed goodness. IMG_3005 A dish that again proved to me why I love risotto – it is so very versatile! IMG_3012 Not to mention being a favourite of the little one too! IMG_3016 What about you? How do you like to cook with pumpkin?

Pumpkin, feta and red onion salad

I really do enjoy playing around with different salad combinations, particularly when they involve a warm ingredient – like pumpkin or sweet potato. Something that you may not necessarily think of when putting together a salad creation. IMG_3093 For our recent Christmas in July Dinner, I had quite a multitude of dishes occupying my oven, so rather than add roasted vegetables to the dinner menu, I went with a pumpkin salad instead. pump A pumpkin, feta and red onion salad….to be precise. Quite simply, I peeled and sliced a portion of pumpkin thinly, then microwaved it for 5 minutes or so – until it was starting to soften. Then, to add some ‘char’, I grilled the slices on my trusty grill until they were properly cooked through. IMG_3095 The, it was simply a matter of combining the pumpkin with red onion and mixed lettuce leaves, and topping it with a sprinkle of feta and a drizzle of olive oil / wholegrain mustard. IMG_3100 Simple – yet delicious! What about you? Are you a fan of pumpkin in salad?

Christmas in July

Happy Monday lovely people! IMG_3080 What a weekend we have just had. Sadly not because of any grand adventures….quite the opposite really. For finally my immune system decided that ‘enough is enough’ and yielded to the cold / flu bug that has been lurking around our house for the last month or so. So, while I was well enough to prepare our special Xmas in July dinner on Saturday night, sadly I was not all that enthused when it came to actually eating said dinner. IMG_3108 But here is a glimpse into the night’s dishes nonetheless. IMG_3099 On the menu… IMG_3104 Ham shoulder, glazed with marmalade, whiskey and dijon mustard. IMG_3086IMG_3088IMG_3085IMG_3118 Turkey stuffed with apple and cranberry (unpictured?!) On the side – duck fat roast potatoes, cranberry and pistachio “stuffing” and a pumpkin, red onion and feta salad. IMG_3120IMG_3081IMG_3093 All together now! IMG_3121 But it was dessert that had me most excited… IMG_3064 Sticky date pudding, served with butterscotch sauce, double cream and almond biscotti. IMG_3070 I only wish my tastebuds has been co-operating! Details of the dishes to follow… What about you? Did you celebrate Christmas in July this year?

Pumpkin and silverbeet pearl barley risotto

IMG_1091 Since falling in love with silverbeet a few months ago now, it is not unusual for a bunch to find its way into my trolley during a supermarket wander. Generally inexpensive, brimming with nutrients, its no surprise that it is one of my favourite vegetables at the moment. IMG_1063 While I tend to stir it through a warm salad or stir-fry, I decided to get a little creative with my latest bunch. I also had a small pumpkin from leftover from our vegetable box, and was quite intrigued  ‘silverbeet + pumpkin’, typed into a search engine, returned the most delightful sounding silverbeet and pumpkin risotto. But not just any risotto, a pearl barley risotto. IMG_1060 You can find the recipe I followed here. IMG_1062 Like all good risottos, this one took time. I started by steaming the pumpkin, then processing it into a puree. Meanwhile, I sautéed sliced leek and garlic until soft, then added the white wine – letting it cook until it was evaporated. Then in went the pearl barley, and unlike regular risotto, I added all the stock at once. Lid on, and let the mixture slowly bubble away for a good 40 minutes or so. IMG_1069 To finish, I added the pumpkin puree, frozen peas and, of course, the shredded silverbeet leaves. IMG_1071IMG_1086 Finished with a good amount of grated parmesan, and we had ourselves quite the winter warmer meal. IMG_1088 I really enjoyed this dinner. Hearty, flavoursome, and pretty damn healthy. IMG_1090 A nice ‘take’ on a classic, that even the little Miss gobbled up with gusto. IMG_1093 A winner all round! What about you? Do you have a favourite vegetable at the moment?