This time of year in Canberra is perfect pumpkin soup weather. Autumn is my favourite season and Canberra really knows how to showcase it. The leaves are all golden and crunchy underfoot and the mornings are foggy and crisp while the days are cooler, but still warming if you can find a good sunny spot. I have not experienced a ‘proper’ Autumn and Winter in over a year, as good old equatorial Singapore is just hot and sticky all year round. I’m relishing early morning walks in the crisp air, snuggling into my slippers, wrapping myself in scarves and chugging this pumpkin soup with caramelised onions. Oh Autumn…I love you!
I have been making this soup for years now, I’m not really sure where I first came up with the idea of putting caramelised onions into pumpkin soup, but it really works.
The thinner you slice the onions, the quicker they will cook. I used a mandolin to do this.
Pop the onions into a heavy based saucepan with the stock, thyme, butter, star anise, sugar and vinegar. You won’t really taste the star anise, it just brings out the flavour of the onions. Heston told me so.
Let the onions come up to a gentle simmer and then cook them for around 40 minutes, stirring them occasionally.
Meanwhile, prepare the pumpkin. I’ve made this soup with grey pumpkins, Kent pumpkins and Butternut pumpkins and they all produce great results. This time I’m using Kent pumpkin. Peel and cut it into fairly large chunks. Cutting pumpkins can be tricky work, so make sure you use a sharp knife to make the job a lot easier for yourself.
Feel free to make your own bouquet garni with fresh herbs. I actually really like using those dried sachets for soups though. I think they give a lovely deep, herb flavour.
I find making soup so relaxing. Stirring pots over the stovetop is my happy place.
Keep a close eye on the onions at the end of the cooking time. Stir them more often to ensure they do not catch on the pan. This is how they should look once they are ready to add to the pumpkin.
I used unsalted, home made beef stock for this recipe. Packaged stocks work well too, as do chicken and vegetable stocks.
If you use a blender to puree the soup, ensure that you remove the smaller part of the lid to ensure that not too much steam is trapped in the blender. If you are worried about it coming out of the top as you blend it, just cover it lightly with a tea towel.
Garnish with some reserved caramelised onions and tuck in. Cold weather comfort food in a bowl.
Pumpkin Soup with Caramelised Onions
Ingredients – Serves 2-3 as a main meal
- 20g of unsalted butter
- 2 medium brown onions, peeled and finely sliced
- 1 tbs of brown sugar
- 1 tbs of balsamic vinegar
- 2 cups plus an additional ¼ cup of beef, chicken or vegetable stock
- 2 sprigs of fresh thyme plus additional picked leaves to garnish
- 1 whole star anise
- 500g of pumpkin, peeled, seeds removed and chopped into rough chunks
- 1 bouquet garni
- 2 tbs of thin cream
- To make the caramelised onions, heat the butter and a splash of olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Once bubbling, add the onions, sugar, balsamic vinegar, star anise and thyme with the ¼ cup of stock. Season with a pinch of salt.
- Bring the onion mix up to a gentle simmer and then reduce the heat to medium low and cook, stirring occasionally, for 40 minutes or until the liquid has been entirely absorbed and the onions are mostly soft. Keep a close eye on the onions at the end of the cooking time, stirring more often to ensure that they do not catch on the pan.
- In a separate, larger saucepan, place the pumpkin and 2 cups of stock with the bouquet garni. Bring it up to a gentle boil over a medium heat and simmer for 10 minutes or until the pumpkin is starting to soften.
- Once the caramelised onions are ready, remove and discard the star anise and thyme stems. Reserve a few tablespoons of the onions and then add the rest to the pumpkin and stock. Continue simmering the stock, pumpkin and onion mix for another 5-10 minutes or until the pumpkin is very soft.
- Remove the bouquet garni and then blend the soup in batches with a blender, or, with a stick blender until it is very smooth.
- Return the blended soup to the saucepan over a low heat. Add the cream and season to taste with salt and pepper. Once the soup is piping hot again, remove from the heat and serve in bowls, garnished with the reserved caramelised onions and extra thyme leaves.