Here in New Zealand, a cold wind has slammed the door shut on the mild false spring of recent weeks. As the storm built up, I made comfort food: my favourite pumpkin soup. This time I used half a grey skinned Crown pumpkin, bought already cut from the greengrocer. I often use butternut or buttercup pumpkins. In NZ the big orange pumpkins that Americans make into jack'o'lanterns are not so common, and I seem to remember them as not being so tasty as our little NZ varieties, but its been a long time since I was over there in pumpkin season!
Don't freak out at the whole head of garlic, once roasted it is mild, sweet and subtle; nothing like the intensity of sauteed garlic. For stock I usually use Rapunzel organic herbal stock cubes. They are delicious and don't have any of that chemical aftertaste of most stock cubes.
I'm pretty sure this is as original as one of my recipes can be. It has evolved over many years in response to my dislike for the taste of pumpkin, but respect for its affordable nutritional value.
Pumpkin and mushroom soup
half a medium size crown pumpkin, or whole butternut or buttercup
whole head of garlic
2 yellow onions, chopped pretty fine
bag of mushrooms, sliced pretty fine
1.5 litres of stock
1 teaspoon ground cumin
(other spices optional: coriander, garam masala, cinnamon or cloves,even some curry powder, can each add something lovely to this soup, )
Scoop out the pumpkin seeds and slice off the pointy end of the head of garlic so the ends of the cloves are exposed. Place pumpkin skin side down, and garlic root side down in a roasting dish and cook in a hot oven until they are soft and fragrant (about 45 minutes). Cool and then peel out of their skins (its so much easier than when they are raw). Puree in a foodprocessor til smooth.
Meanwhile, saute the onions in a soup pot with a little oil until they are soft but not brown. Add the mushrooms and saute until they are limp then add the hot stock and pureed pumpkin/garlic. Simmer until thick and silky.