This is a silky, luxurious soup. Roasting half the pumpkin and sweating the other half in butter gives a more interesting range of pumpkin flavours. You need to search out a nicely ripe pumpkin, though, if you want it to really sing.
Almost any soup will benefit from elements that add flavour and texture contrasts. Here I’ve used hidden pumpkin seeds (for crunch and to extend the range of pumpkin flavours even further), roasted red pepper diamonds, toasted hazelnuts, red pepper oil (for details, see Heston Blumenthal at Home p.265) and brown butter (p.204). The latter is a fantastic way to finish off many dishes, bringing a delicious nuttiness.
For the soup
- 850g Pumpkin flesh Olive oil
- 250g Unsalted butter
- 3 Onions, peeled and finely sliced
- 400g Whole milk
- 4 Sprigs of rosemary
- Pinch of cayenne pepper
- 40g Sesame oil (or to taste)
- 40g Balsamic vinegar (or to taste)
To finish and serve
- 20g Hazelnuts, toasted until golden brown
- 1/2 Sprig of rosemary
- 20g Coarse dry breadcrumbs
- 1 tablespoon Melted brown butter
- 1 Red pepper, de-seeded, roasted and peeled, then cut into diamonds
- Pumpkin seeds
- Red pepper oil
Pre-heat the oven to 180°C (355°F).
To start the soup, thinly slice half of the pumpkin on a mandolin and cut the other half into large cubes.
Roast the large cubes of pumpkin drizzled with a little olive oil in the pre-heated oven for approximately 45 minutes or until soft and caramelized.
Melt 200g of the butter in a saucepan and sweat the onions and pumpkin slices for approximately 10 minutes.
In the meantime, in a second pan, heat the milk until almost simmering. Turn off the heat, add the rosemary, then allow to infuse for 20 minutes. Strain the liquid and discard the rosemary.
When the onions are translucent, add the rosemary milk, 600g cold tap water and the roasted pumpkin, bring to the boil and reduce to a simmer for 10 minutes until the sliced pumpkin is soft. Remove from the heat, liquidize and pass through a fine sieve. Season with cayenne, sesame oil, balsamic vinegar and salt.
When ready to serve, combine the toasted hazelnuts with the rosemary and blitz to a coarse powder. Combine with the breadcrumbs.
Brush the inside rim of the soup bowls with the brown butter and coat with the hazelnut and rosemary mixture.
Place some red pepper diamonds and pumpkin seeds in the bottom of each bowl.
Warm the soup, add the remaining 50g of butter and aerate with a hand blender. Ladle into the nut-encrusted bowls and garnish with drops of red pepper oil.