Arriving home after a week of sunshine filled days, long morning walks along the beach and multiple dips in the ocean we were very quickly reminded that we are still very much in the winter months here, on the Mornington Peninsula.
As strange as it may sound and as lovely as it was to feel that warmth soak into my skin, I have to say that getting all cosy and snug in over-sized winter knits and sliding my feet into my house slippers is something that I do enjoy quite a lot. Along with steaming bowls of wholesome goodness in the form of soup, its what winter is all about, isn't it?
As soon as that spoon touches my lips I can almost immediately feel the goodness warming me up from the inside out. I think its safe to say that this concoction with its lemongrass, ginger and coconutty delicousness will be on the menu at some stage this week in our home. The cashews make a really lovely addition too, adding an extra amount of creaminess as everything is blended together to take it from a chunky mess to smooth as silk.
A scattering of toasted coconut flakes and a thick slice of buttered toast or a few homemade spelt, yoghurt flatbreads is all that is needed to make this a very satisfying winter meal if I do say so myself. Going off the feedback from my taste testers they seemed to think the same too, which always makes me a very happy cook!
Perhaps the only other thing that would make this as close to perfection as possible, would be to enjoy it sitting in front of an open fire, becoming mesmerised by the warm glow and listening to the crackle and hiss of the wood as it burns ever so slowly. I really hope that if you do get the chance to re-create this that brings only happiness to your tummies and gives your tastebuds a reason to dance.
Lemongrass, ginger & pumpkin soup
Makes quite a lot and freezes really well for those times when you've been too busy to think about what is for dinner!
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 leek, cut in half lengthways and sliced
1 brown onion sliced
4 garlic cloves, finely diced
2 lemongrass stalks, finely chopped
3 kaffir lime leaves, finely sliced
About 4cm piece of ginger, finely chopped
1 teaspoon chilli flakes
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 tablespoon green tomato chutney
2 tablespoons sambal
1.5 to 2kg butternut or Kent pumpkin, peeled and cut into chunks
1 400g can of diced tomatoes, plus half a can of water to swish out any leftovers
1 tablespoon palm sugar or brown sugar
1 teaspoon fish sauce
1.5 litres of vegetable stock or water if you don’t have any stock.
½ cup of unsalted raw cashews, or more if you are lover of the humble nut
Juice of 1 lime or lemon
400g can of coconut milk, reserving a little for drizzling on the top
2 spring onions, sliced and toasted coconut flakes for garnishing.
Heat the oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Add the leek and onion, stirring every now and then until softened. Turn down the heat a little if you find they are browning too quickly. Add the garlic, lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, ginger, chilli and continue to cook for another couple of minutes. Now add in your spices, chutney, sambal and stir to combine everything. Enjoy the smell, it's amazing!
Tip in your pumpkin and stir to coat it in all of those delicious flavours, then add in the tomatoes, the water, palm sugar (or brown sugar if you haven’t got palm) fish sauce, stock and cashews. Bring it up to the boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer away, partly covered for about 45 minutes.
Turn the heat off, allow to cool just a little, if time allows, or if you are like me and cannot wait, take care and with a hand-held stick blender, blitz it all until it is smooth. Alternatively, you can do this in a blender as well, you just have to do it in batches. Once its all blended together, pop it back on the stove over a low heat, add in the juice of your lime and the coconut milk and stir. I love this part as it always makes a beautiful pattern as the milk and soup combine. Check to see if it requires any salt and pepper, remembering that it may not need all that much, just a sprinkle and a few twists of the pepper grinder.
Ladle into warm bowls, top with spring onions, toasted coconut and a drizzle of the reserved coconut milk. Serve with either crusty bread or spelt flatbreads.
200g spelt flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt
200g Greek yoghurt
Mix everything together in a medium bowl, then knead on a lightly floured bench. It is quite a sticky dough so add the flour as required to make it easier to handle. Now, divide it up into about 4-6 portions, depending on how big you would like them to be. Roll out until they are quite thin, but not thin enough that you can see through them. Heat non-stick pan over a medium-high heat and cook each one for a minute or two on each side. They will puff up, remove from the pan and continue this until all have been cooked. Wrapping them in baking paper or a clean tea-towel to keep them lovely and warm.