Can you feel it?? There is a slight nip in the early morning air and at night. Winter's round the corner and you know what that means .. milder temperatures, increased appetites and loads of baking!! After months of erratic baking, I see a busy few months on this blog. Soups, cakes, cookies, stews and warm puddings.. .. I want to make it all this winter!!
But for today, we'll start slowly with a soup. In deference to the pumpkin craze all this month on blog-o-sphere, I decided that my first soup of the season should be a roasted pumpkin soup. If you are looking for a fuss-free recipe that is full of flavour, you turn to Donna Hay.
The pumpkin is roasted along with an onion and a couple of garlic cloves. The best part, there is no peeling and chopping involved. You roast the veggies, just as they are, with a drizzle of oil. Once they are roasted, you simply peel off the skin and blitz it all and then add some chicken stock, milk and a teeny bit of honey. That's all there is to it!! Now, you know why I chose this recipe.
To go along with the soup, I made this bread. The recipe uses no yeast. So, anyone out there who's had a difficult relationship with yeast, this is for you!! It is bread speckled with ham, cheese, mustard and herbs... perfect with a soup.
Except for roasting the veggies that took an hour, making the soup and baking the bread, took a little over an hour. The soup is such a beautiful celebration of the vegetables involved. Roasting them heightens their flavour and brings out their natural sweetness. You balance the flavours and texture with some chicken stock and milk. We were won over!!
Since no yeast is used, the bread has a more denser and tightly packed crumb than usual. But, the flavours are all there and you will taste each and every component...the ham, cheese, herbs, the mustard.. all of it!! And did I mention, it also uses whole wheat flour.
The two dishes are wholesome and complement each other. In fact, keep the bread in mind for any soup you might have in mind. Sounds like just 'soup and bread', but it is a complete meal.
Winter is so gentle out here, that it brings a spring in my step and a smile on my face. What about you.. how's winter looking in your part of the world??
Cheese and Ham Herbed Bread
Recipe adapted from the book , 'Complete Baking by Martha Day' (the recipe can be doubled)
- 1 cup wholemeal flour (I used atta)
- 1 cup white flour
- 2.5 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, crushed
- 40 gms ham, chopped
- 25 gms freshly grated cheese
- 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
- 1 teaspoon French mustard paste
- 175 mls buttermilk
- milk, to glaze
- Pre-heat the oven to 200 deg C. Oil a baking sheet.
- Place the wholemeal flour in a bowl. Sift in the white flour, baking powder and salt.
- Add the pepper and the chopped ham.
- Set aside 1 tablespoon of the grated cheese and stir in the rest into the mixture, along with the parsley.
- Mix the mustard with the buttermilk.
- Make a well in the centre of the flour mixture. Pour in the buttermilk into the flour and quickly mix to a soft dough. If the mixture is too dry, add a little more buttermilk.
- Knead briefly and shape the dough into an oval loaf. Brush with milk and sprinkle the rest of the cheese on top.
- Place on the prepared baking sheet and bake for 25-30 minutes or until it sounds hollow when tapped underneath.
- Allow to cool before serving.
Roasted Pumpkin Soup
Minimally adapted from Donna Hay's recipe.
- 750 gms pumpkin
- 1 small onion
- 2 cloves garlic (optional)
- olive oil, to drizzle
- salt, to taste
- 250 mls chicken stock (can substitute with vegetable stock)
- 1/2 cup milk (the original recipe uses cream)
- 1 teaspoon honey
- Pre-heat the oven to 220 deg C.
- Cut the pumpkin and scoop out the seeds.
- Place the pumpkin, cut side-up, along with the whole onion and garlic cloves on a baking tray. You do not have to peel or cut the onion or the garlic.
- Drizzle with a little oil and sprinkle with salt, over the vegetables.
- Bake for 55-60 minutes or until the pumpkin is soft and starting to brown. Scoop the pumpkin out of its skin and into a blender.
- Peel away the skin from the onion and the garlic and add to the blender.
- Add half the chicken stock and blend until smooth.
- Pour the mixture into a saucepan, add remaining stock, milk and honey.
- Place over medium heat until soup is heated through.
- Season with salt and pepper, according to your taste and serve.