This is a comforting, robust and nourishing broth for autumn and winter.
Rory says: "Choose a ripe and firm pumpkin. I like the variety called Uchiki Kuri, also known as Red Kuri. The flesh is close-textured and with a deep golden orange colour. The flavour is intense and nutty. It also roasts well and makes an excellent purée. Butternut squash is an excellent replacement for the pumpkin. Even though we are using robustly flavoured ingredients here, the resulting broth is surprisingly delicate. The soup makes a large quantity, but you can successfully half this recipe if you wish."
- 450g of pumpkin or squash, peeled and deseeded (weigh after peeling and deseeding)
- 3 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
- 225g leek, washed and thinly sliced against the grain
- 225g potato, peeled and cut into 1cm cubes
- 300g very ripe tomatoes, peeled and chopped or tinned tomatoes
- 4 tblsp olive oil
- 1.8 litres chicken stock
- 2 tsp fennel seeds, lightly roasted and coarsely ground
- Salt, pepper and sugar, to taste
- 2 tblsp chopped flat parsley
- Parsley pesto or olive oil and grated parmesan, to garnish
- Use a richly coloured pumpkin or squash for this recipe such as a Red Kuri pumpkin or a butternut squash. Always exercise great care when peeling these tough skinned cucurbits, and try to always have your knife pointing down and away from you, so that if the knife slips, it hits the chopping board and not you. I usually cut the particular variety down into a few manageable pieces before removing the seeds and then the tough skin.
- The tomatoes should be dark red and ripe. I am happy to use best quality tinned or bottled tomatoes if the fresh ones are not up to scratch.
- The fennel seeds, with their aromatic and aniseed flavour, should be carefully toasted before being coarsely ground.
- The chicken stock should be sweetly and delicately flavoured, exactly the result you will get from following the chicken stock recipe.
- Cut the pumpkin into 2cm dice. Heat the olive oil in a heavy saucepan, add the pumpkin, fennel seeds and garlic. With a wooden spoon, coat in the olive oil and fry on a gentle heat for 2 minutes.
- Add the leek and potatoes, season with salt and pepper and cover with a butter wrapper or greaseproof paper and the saucepan lid. Sweat on a very gentle heat for 10-15 minutes. Anything more than the gentlest heat at this stage can render the vegetables to a mush and that would be a disaster. The vegetables should be just barely beginning to tenderise.
- Add the tomatoes, a pinch of sugar and the stock. Cover again and bring to a gentle simmer. Cook until all the vegetables are tender - about 15 minutes should do it.
- Do not allow the soup to boil furiously as the stock will reduce and become too strong and the vegetables will break up and the soup will disintegrate into a mush. Taste and correct seasoning.
- Serve with parsley pesto or a just a drizzle of olive oil and a dusting of grated parmesan.