I have made a couple of soups with the vegetable stock I prepared last week, but this one was by far the yummiest, and is also simple to make. It is quick to prepare after a long day, as you can throw the vegetables into the oven and forget about them until they are cooked.
Yesterday I volunteered with Cooking for a Cause, one of OzHarvest’s corporate engagement programs. The group was from the legal department of one of the accountancy firms, so it was an interesting experience for me, watching their team bonding from the other side of the fence. The group did really well (lawyers are sticklers for detail), and made some wonderful gnocchi, a curry, gozleme, koftas, banana bread and salads under the guidance of the OzHarvest chefs from mostly rescued food. And that was 200+ meals for some of the charities and agencies for the vulnerable which OzHarvest supports, such as the Newtown Mission.
After spending a couple of hours in the kitchen that afternoon, I wanted something low maintenance for dinner and our fridge was done to the last neglected vegetables. Luckily I had some vegetable stock in the freezer, and so rescued the vegetables from their lonely drawer. You can swap or supplement the butternut pumpkin in this soup with any other pumpkin, sweet potato or beetroot for something different. Roasting the vegetables really develops the flavour, and sweetens the vegetables. If you are roasting beetroot, bake with the skin on and remove when done. Serves 2 hungry people. Especially good with some fresh bread to mop up the soup (we had some from Bourke Street Bakery, mmm).
Pumpkin and fennel soup
- Half of a butternut pumpkin
- 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
- 1 tablespoon cumin seeds
- 1/2 teaspoon celtic sea salt
- 5-6 cloves of garlic
- 3/4 bulb fennel
- 3 cups vegetable stock
- Olive oil, for cooking
- 4-5 leaves of cavolo nero, spinach or kale, for serving (optional)
- A handful of almonds, for serving (optional)
- Chilli oil, for drizzling (optional)
Rocket, radish and fennel salad
- 1/4 bulb of fennel
- 2 handfuls of rocket
- 2 radishes
- 1 garlic clove
- 1/2 tps celtic sea salt
- 1/2 lemon, juiced
- 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
- Preheat the oven to 175 C. Cut pumpkin into chunks, and remove skin and seeds. Line a large baking dish with some baking paper and add the pumpkin and garlic cloves. Sprinkle the coriander and cumin seeds and salt over the pumpkin, and splash on a little olive oil. Mix together with your hands and place baking dish into oven.
- Cut fennel into rough chunks and set aside. After the pumpkin has been in the oven for approx. 20 minutes, add fennel to the baking dish with the pumpkin and bake for another 20 minutes or so until the pumpkin and fennel are cooked.
- While the pumpkin and fennel are baking, prepare the salad. Using a mandolin or sharp knife, finely slice the remainder of the fennel and radishes. Add to a salad bowl with the rocket.
- Prepare the salad dressing by crushing the garlic clove with the sea salt until it forms a garlic paste. Add lemon juice, olive oil and mustard and whisk together. Taste – you may need to add more lemon juice or oil. Set aside.
- Roast the almonds in a dry pan over medium heat for 3-4 minutes. Remove almonds from the pan, and add the cavolo nero into the pan with a little olive oil. Cook gently for 2-3 minutes until the spinach is wilted.
- Once the pumpkin and fennel are cooked, transfer them to a blender with the roasted garlic (skins removed) and coriander and cumin seeds. Add the vegetable stock and puree until the soup is smooth. Transfer to a large saucepan and simmer soup on low heat for around 5-10 minutes until it is warm. If soup is too thick, add some water and heat until incorporated.
- Ladle soup into bowls, top with wilted cavolo nero and almonds and drizzle on some chilli oil. Serve with the salad and/or some bread.