Our veggie garden is overflowing with delicious fat pumpkins right now. Slowly, as the months have passed, the earthy vines have taken up residence not only across entire garden beds, but have been trailing out of the beds too, as if off on an adventure. Pumpkins require a lot of space to grow, but the gift at the end is well worth it (and all the watering). Just prepare yourself for an arm work out as you attempt to saw into any larger varieties your garden may produce – parental guidance definitely needed.
Pumpkins are a starchy carbohydrate that provide an ample source of wholefood energy, as well as dietary fibre, which helps keep us feeling fuller for longer after eating. They’re a fantastic source of the antioxidant beta-carotene (responsible for pumpkins orange hue colour), which is converted into vitamin A in the body. Vitamin A does a wonderful job at supporting our immune system, as well as aiding in healthy eyesight, especially in dim light. Vitamin A is known as a fat-soluble vitamin, meaning you need to consume a source of dietary fat along with it to aid in its absorption – think roasted pumpkin drizzled in oil, or a buttery sweet pumpkin pie. The antioxidant activity of beta-carotene helps fight free-radical damage in the body. In a nut shell – free-radicals are the baddies and antioxidants are the police. Eat lots of antioxidants (found throughout colourful fruits and veggies) and your coven of baddies won’t stand a chance.
To celebrate our first pumpkins, it felt only appropriate to make pumpkin soup. I added carrots to compliment add to the sweetness of the pumpkin, along with warming ginger, cinnamon, cumin and coriander. Make sure to garnish the soup with a big dollop of yoghurt and some fresh herbs.
Pumpkin and Carrot Soup
800g pumpkin (chopped and peeled weight)
1 brown onion
2 garlic cloves
1 tbsp oil
1 tsp cumin
1⁄2 tsp ground coriander
1⁄2 tsp ginger powder
1⁄4 tsp cinnamon
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 litre of vegetable stock
Extra water to cover simmering veggies
Fresh coriander or parsley
1. Chop the pumpkin into medium-sized chunks - you're after 800grams, so weigh the finished chopped chunks on kitchen scales to check. If using a whole pumpkinm keep any left over pumpkin for another meal. If you don't have enough pumpkin you can substitute with extra kumara (sweet potato) or potato. Peel carrots, cut off top ends and cut carrot into chunks
2. Peel onion and slice into half moons. Peel and roughly chop garlic. Heat oil in a large pot and gently sauté onions and garlic until soft. Add spices and cook for a further few minutes.
3. Add in pumpkin and carrot, sauté for a minute and then pour in veggie stock and enough extra water to just cover the veggies. Bring the pot to boil, and then turn down heat to a simmer. Let the soup simmer for 30-40 minutes or until pumpkin and carrots are soft.
4. Allow soup to slightly cool, and then using a stick blender or food processor, blend until perfectly smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste.