The face behind the popular VJ Cooks pages on Instagram and Facebook, Vanya Insull has now collated some of her fabulous affordable, no-fuss fare into a cookbook, Everyday Favourites, one that will be dog-eared with heavy use in no time. For this soup, Vanya says, "People are so surprised when I let them know you can cook a whole pumpkin in the oven. It saves you chopping, and the flesh of the pumpkin becomes lovely and tender. I like to roast the onion at the same time so it gets caramelised, then you simply need to fry it off, add the pumpkin and stock and blitz it all together. Serve with crusty croutons and a shaving of parmesan for a hearty winter soup. It also freezes well for later."
|2 Tbsp||olive oil|
|4 cloves||garlic, crushed|
|1 tsp||ground cumin|
|3 cups||vegetable stock|
|To taste||salt and cracked black pepper|
|½ loaf||crusty white bread|
|1 Tbsp||olive oil|
|2 Tbsp||grated parmesan|
|1 Tbsp||chopped fresh Italian parsley|
|4 tsp||cream (optional)|
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- Preheat the oven to 170°C fan bake. Line an oven tray with baking paper.
- Place the whole pumpkin on the lined oven tray. Cut the ends off the onion and cut the unpeeled onion in half. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and place on the tray skin-side down.
- Bake for 1 hour 40 minutes or up to 2 hours, depending on the size of your pumpkin. It is cooked when the skin has browned and it is easily pierced with a fork.
- To make the croutons, tear the bread into bite-sized chunks and spread out on an oven tray. Drizzle with olive oil, then bake for about 15 minutes until golden.
- Once the pumpkin has cooled, peel off and discard the skin. Cut the pumpkin in half and scoop out and discard the seeds. Chop the flesh into large pieces or mash it. Discard the onion skin and coarsely chop the onion.
- To make the soup, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large pot, add the garlic and saute for 1 minute.
- Add the onion and cumin to the pot and stir together.
- Stir in the pumpkin and stock, bring to a simmer and cook for 5–10 minutes.
- Remove from the heat and use a stick blender to puree the soup. Taste and adjust seasonings.
- Serve topped with the home-made croutons, parmesan, parsley and a swirl of cream (if using).
TIPS AND TRICKS
- If you don't have a stick blender, you can roughly mash the soup with a potato masher or wait for it to cool and transfer it to a blender to get it smooth.
- Any leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 3 months. Reheat until piping hot.
Edited extract from Everyday Favourites: Delicious, easy meal solutions for busy families by Vanya Insull, published by Allen & Unwin NZ, RRP $39.99. Photography by Melanie Jenkins, Flash Studios
- Serves: 4