Pumpkin Soup

Soup+Bacon

It’s cold! And I don’t like it.

I made soup, yesterday! It’s marvellous. Tonight, I had it was bacon instead of toast (and added a splash of cream). I highly recommend it. Anywho, a recipe!

I did a pile of chopping, then a pile of cooking. I’m pretty sure the two can overlap; but not entirely.

I had 1 leek, 1 bulb of fennel, and three red onions chopped into slices; 1 red capsicum diced relatively finely; half of a pumpkin chopped into 1-2″ chunks*; about 8 medium-small potatoes, quartered and a half dozen slices of bacon roughly chopped up.

Bacon goes into a pot first, and is cooked until browned; then the capsicum is added and cooked until it softens up; then the leek/fennel/red onions join in. Once those have cooked down (uh, they 2/3 filled the pot when I added them, and when they were down to about 1/3 I continued onwards..); add the pumpkin and potatoes, and add enough water to just cover the potatoes/pumpkin.

Cook it until the potatoes and pumpkin are cooked; then point a stick blender at it until it’s smoooothish.

Yuhm.

*I peeled the first half of the pumpkin with much suffering; and cut the other half into chunks and roasted it in a 200°C oven until the pumpkin was just starting to soften up. It made the skin vastly easier to get off; and probably helped make the soup tastier. Next time, I’d roast all of the pumpkin to avoid the pumpkin peeling.

Ginger Poached Pears with Vanilla Custard and Walnut Praline

Pears w/ custard and praline

This was dessert last night. It is pears, halved and poached in a simple-syrup with ginger; sitting on vanilla custard with walnut praline in the cored holes of the pears. I served it in wide Martini glasses (they’re oh so pretty, but so easy to spill your drink out of); and it tasted even better than it looks.

For The Pears
I halved and cored four pears (handy hint: use a melon baller to do the coring); and put them in a wide saute pan with one cup of sugar and about four cups of water (enough to cover most of the pears), along with a finger of peeled ginger sliced up. The pears were then cooked over a low heat for an hour, being flipped over every twenty minutes or so.

For the Custard
I have a favourite custard recipe (: It’s nice and reliable, so I haven’t investigated others. I use the custard part of this recipe for Mille Feuille; but instead of orange blossom water, I added vanilla essence (I use the Nielsen-Massey Madagascar Bourbon pure vanilla essence. It’s..magical..when the bottle is opened).

For the Praline
I covered the bottom of a small saucepan with sugar, and added just enough water to dissolve the sugar. Before you start cooking the praline, it’s important to have somewhere to put it when you’re finished (: Usually, I’d use a silicon baking sheet; but alas, my one has seen better days. Instead, I used a sheet of baking paper inside a roasting pan. This is the caramel cooling zone.
I heated the sugar+water over medium heat until it turned amber; then added a handful of walnut pieces. Next, jiggle the syrup around so all of the walnut pieces are covered. Then, pour the caramel on to your caramel-cooling-zone.
Give the praline 10-15 minutes to cool down and solidify. Once it has hardened; break it into smaller pieces, then use a pestle (pounding stick from a mortar and pestle) to reduce it down to little pieces.

To Assemble
Place the custard in the bottom of glasses. Put the pear halves on top of that. Fill the cored holes with praline.

Woo!