Friday, October 22, 2010

Curried Pumpkin Bisque--A Soup that Tastes Better than it Looks

Every year my next door neighbors organize a soup party. It used to be held in fall, but since recently they have been hosting also a Halloween party, the soup party has been moved to spring. They invite many friends and cook huge pots of soup for their guests. You are also encouraged and welcome to bring your own favorite soup to share. It is a nice pretext to meet friends and neighbors, have a glass of wine and a chat.

This party event makes me slightly ashamed because it should have been me who came up with such a party idea, since in Poland every dinner starts with a plate of soup. But I am not crazy about soups--I like only some of them, and I am happy to skip them in my menus, and replace them with salads, which I love more than anything.

When the party was held in fall, the hosts prepared a pumpkin soup which I liked a lot and asked them for the recipe. This soup is heavier than many that I know and therefore if it is served with bread it can be the whole meal in itself. I also love its spiciness which comes from curry and other Indian spices. The recipe I received from them also includes smoked ham, but since they are vegetarian, I have always had only its vegetarian version, which is delicious anyway, and one that I cooked recently myself.

Curried Pumpkin Bisque

2 lbs butternut squash peeled, seeded, and cubed,
1 green pepper, seeded, and finely chopped,
6 whole scallions chopped,
1/4 cup of parsley, chopped,
2 tbsp fresh chopped basil or 1 tbsp dried,
1 can (14 oz) plum tomatoes,
4 cups vegetable stock,
2 tbsp butter,
1 garlic clove, minced,
1/2 tsp ground allspice,
1/4 tsp ground mace,
pinch of ground nutmeg,
2-3 tsp curry powder,
salt and pepper.

1. In a large saucepan, over medium heat melt butter and add chopped scallions. Cook for 2 minutes, and add garlic, green pepper, parsley, and basil. Stir and cook for 5 minutes.
2. Add squash to the saucepan and stir until squash is covered with herb mixture.
3. Add tomatoes, stock, allspice, mace, and nutmeg. At this moment, you also add ham if used. Heat to the boiling point, reduce the heat, and simmer for about 40 minutes until squash becomes tender.
4. Remove soup from the heat and (take out the ham if used), puree in batches in a blender.
5. Transfer to another saucepan. If you like the soup to be lighter, you may add some water.
6. Stir in the curry powder and bring to boiling. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes stirring frequently.
7. Season with salt and pepper and serve with white bread or Indian Naan.

When I made it recently and wanted to take a picture, a friend of mine was very sceptical about the photogenic aspect of it. However, after trying the first spoon of it, his verdict was "Delicious! It tastes a thousand times better than it looks!"

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