I started writing this post months ago and thought I should get finished it since it’s about pumpkin based soups and here it is spring. (Though as I type it’s a typical spring – raining and a little chilly so I could well imagine a bowl of something hot right now).
I’ve been trying to do a weekly meal plan and that includes some prep for meals later in the week to save time. I roast pumpkin one night when the oven’s on so it’s quicker to use when cooking with it. I leave the skin and seeds on and just cut it into large quarters – it’s easier to cut up and take the skin off when already cooked. It can be turned into a seafood or chicken laksa (see below) although there’s nothing wrong with pumpkin soup. If you don’t like spicy hot food don’t be put off by the idea of a laksa – most of the jar sauces you buy aren’t that spicy hot but are full of flavour. Use less rather than more if you’re not sure. (Ok, ideally you would make your own laksa or curry paste from scratch anyway).
Ingredients – 4 serves
- 1/3 large pumpkin or about 700g (precooked then cubed)
- 2 squid tube – sliced into pieces
- 12 mussels (more or less to your preference)
- 1/2 jar laksa sauce or 1TB red curry paste
- 1 leek – white part sliced into rounds. If especially large cut the rounds through again
- 500ml fish broth
- pad thai or similar noodles (eg udon)
- coconut milk – 25ml
- bean sprouts
When using the oven for something else cut 1/3 of a large pumpkin into three or four pieces and roast with a small amount of cooking oil. Cook until tender – 30 minutes or so depending on the size of your chunks. Then fridge it as is until required.
≈ Get really prepared and roast the whole pumpkin – use some for this laksa soup and the rest for pumpkin soup, risotto or pasta later in the week. Put in some whole onions and garlic as well and roast them for the risotto/pasta. Leave the skins on them all to protect from burning. Roasted onions and garlic are great to have in the fridge to add quick flavour to meals.
- Saute the laksa sauce or red curry for 1 minute then add diced leek and cook gently until the leek softens. Keep stirring and add some of the fish broth to keep it from sticking.
- Add the rest of the fish broth and cooked cubed pumpkin and gently simmer for a few minutes.
≈ If cooking pumpkin from raw it will need to simmer for about 20 minutes depending on the size of your chunks and you will need more liquid.
- Add noodles and coconut milk and keep simmering until noodles are nearly cooked – usually just a few minutes, depending on which type of noodles you use.
- Taste at some stage around here – if it needs more flavour add soy sauce or miso paste or more of the laksa or curry paste.
- Meanwhile in a separate pot steam mussels in a small amount of boiling water (1 litre). It will only take a couple of minutes for them to open up. Start taking them out with tongs once open. Don’t use those that don’t open. Remove them from the shells, de beard if necessary and cut in half. Add to laksa broth liquid.
≈ You can also cook the mussels directly in the laksa broth but unless they’re totally clean bits of grit end up in the broth.
- Add squid slices to the laksa broth and cook for 2 minutes.
- Remove the laksa broth from the heat and sit to cool slightly before serving. (The squid and mussels will still cook in the hot broth while cooling so don’t overcook them on the heat previously).
- Serve with coriander and bean sprouts.
- Use chicken stock and sliced chicken breast instead of seafood.
- Mushrooms work well added with the broth, especially if making it vegetarian.
- We hardly ever need to use a whole tin of coconut milk at once so I freeze what we don’t need. Pour some into ice cube trays and once frozen put them in a jar in the freezer. A meal like this doesn’t need much coconut milk – add 3 or 4 frozen cubes without needing to open a whole tin.
- Add an egg along with or instead of the seafood. Put them in with the noodles (if using fresh or udon which only take a few minutes), put the lid on and poach the eggs gently in the liquid until cooked to your liking.
- Dumplings also work well poached in the liquid.
- To make two meals for two people I put aside half of the liquid at the leek pumpkin broth stage and continue to cook the noodles and seafood in the rest (I would use less seafood than I’ve listed in the ingredients list if doing it this way – just one squid tube and four or five mussels each). I use the put aside lot of liquid the next day for lunch or dinner and poach dumplings and an egg each to make it seem like a completely different meal but with none of the time spent.
- Freeze it: freeze the put aside leek, pumpkin broth as above. (Don’t freeze it with the seafood as the squid in particular gets overcooked on reheating). To use, defrost and reheat on the stove along with noodles, coconut milk and seafood (or chicken). Add additional stock or water if necessary and finish with coriander & bean sprouts.