Pumpkin Soup – photo by Harini Prakash

Among the first few western dishes I discovered and loved, is the pumpkin soup. It is a vegetable I hated as child and still have no love for as an adult. I am told often, that when one hates vegetables it is not because the vegetable is not ‘tasty’ but because the cook does not know how to use it in the kitchen. Maybe it is true to some extent and I found that out when I tried this soup. I was a tad skeptical in the beginning but just one sip, and this soup had me slurping up the bowl. My children followed suit! Needless to say it has established itself as a regular item in our meals now.

What is good about the soup is that it is ideal for the health conscious as well as those with a love for all things creamy. Yes, it is possible for a low fat soup to be delicious as well! The pumpkin itself, once cooked and strained has enough creamy texture that eliminates the need for the addition of corn flour or cream.

I love making things from scratch and opt for home made basics as far as possible rather than procure shop bought, processed items. I would like to have you make a vegetable stock in advance if possible. It takes time but is worth the effort and elevates even simple soups to a much higher level. However, if you are short of time, you might like to go for store-bought stock or soup cubes instead. There is a third option, if you are not in the mood to go to the grocery store: add a 1" stick of cinnamon, 2 cloves, 2 crushed cloves of garlic and 1 bay leaf with a teaspoon of olive oil to the pumpkins while steaming and discard the whole spices later by spooning them out.

Here is a neat tip to make your stock: every weekday, as you pull out your veggies, do not discard the worn out looking vegetables into the dustbin. Instead, keep stocking them in a bowl. If you have even half a bowlful of sad-looking, slightly wilted vegetables by the weekend, you can use them to make a delicious vegetable stock that can be frozen and used as and when desired for a bowlful of hot and healthy soup.

Dish: (Vegan) Pumpkin Soup Serves: 10-12 cups

Ingredients: - 2 cups vegan soup stock [* if using your own please read foregoing paragraph] - 2 cups second extract of coconut milk [OR dilute one cup of canned coconut milk with one cup of water and use] - 1 kg pumpkin - 1 cup water - 1 small green chilli, finely chopped - Salt and pepper as per taste - Coconut cream (optional)

Method: Peel the pumpkin, cut off the fibre, cut into big chunks and cook covered, with a cup of water seasoned with half a teaspoon of salt. If using smaller, whole pumpkins, you could also roast them in the oven till tender and scoop the flesh.

Cool and puree using a blender. Add the coconut milk and stock.

Warm the soup stirring all the while. Add the chilli a minute later, stir and heat but do not scald. Adjust salt as per taste.

I serve pepper separately. You may garnish the soup with a drizzle of coconut cream or olive oil.

I also recommend that you do not replace the coconut milk with dairy milk, because the flavour of coconut goes really well with pumpkins.

Serving suggestion: Can be served with any bread or bread sticks. Makes for a wholesome, light dinner too.

Harini Prakash aka Sunshinemom, is an amateur vegan food writer and photographer who is always keen to learn more. She blogs at: TONGUE TICKLERS

The views expressed by this blogger and in the following reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.

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