Sunday 4 July 2010

Pumpkin soup for busy days

I stood in the middle of the kitchen not knowing what to eat for dinner. I was tired after a busy day at work and the night was slipping away. E suggested pasta and pesto but I needed something full of healthy vegetables. I try to eat well but it really is easier when there is plenty of energy and time.

E tries to help but what do you expect from a man who sees “tins toms” on a shopping list and buys two packets of tim tams – an extra one because he expected I would be baking with the chocolate biscuits. Surely everyone know tins toms means tins of tomatoes!
I had a packet of soba noodles and decided to turn them into soup. I perused my savoury recipes notebook before finding the recipe that I had in mind. Somen Noodles in Autumn Broth. From The Age Good Weekend Magazine many years ago. It was bursting with vegetables and flavours: pumpkin, mushrooms, yellow squash, 100ml of mirin, fish sauce, kombu, white miso. I used the vegetables I had and eased off on the seasoning. The fish sauce was replaced with tamari and a touch of umeboshi vinegar. I found some leftover brown rice in the fridge that was used instead of the soba noodles.The soup was just what I needed. Delicious, seasonal, packed with vegetables and light enough to leave room for dessert. Which was just as well because I had some leftover rhubarb and quince crumble (recipe soon). My only quibble was that I could have cooked the Brussels sprouts a little less.I was pleased to have leftovers the following night because we had a full day visiting Heide Museum of Modern Art and I could just warm up the soup when we got home. It had been quite an outing because it was our first trip where Sylvia constantly wanted to be out of the stroller and digging her fingers in dirt or climbing any stairs she could find. I enjoyed seeing the house where Sunday and John Reed had lived (Heide I) especially the warm inviting library. I liked Simryn Gill’s exhibit though the corner where the public was invited to rip up old books to make paper boats looked like the cleaners had forgotten to clean up (but it was fun).This was last weekend not yesterday. This weekend we have all been snuffly and miserable. We have missed two of Sylvia’s cousins’ birthdays and I have had Sylvia sleep on my lap for over an hour today. I have made soup that looks like Dickensian gruel but fortunately we have been comforted by a batch of pumpkin scones. As I write, E is playing guitar and Sylvia has run into the lounge room with his plectrums giggling mischievously.

And just to prove E is not the only one to make mistakes (with tins toms) I will tell you about my cinema expedition last Sunday. I raced to the cinema thinking that my free cinema pass expired at the end of June. It was fortunately that I had misread the due date, which was actually the end of July, because I found that I was at the wrong cinema chain. Going to the cinema is a rare treat these days so I paid up and saw Animal Kingdom anyway. I highly recommend this well made Australian film about the demise of a criminal family. On the way home I finally got Sylvia some bookends for the books in her room.
I also highly recommend this soup. It is the sort of thing that I make in summer often but don’t often make a winter version that is hearty enough to satisfy but wont weigh me down.

Previously on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
This time last year: Slideshows, Nostalgia and Hedgehog
This time two years ago:
Curious Chipotles and Bonza Burritos
This time three years ago:
Green Refectory Café: cakes galore

Japanese-style Pumpkin, Sprouts and Tofu Soup
Serves 4
  • 1 strip of dried kombu (mine was about 10-12cm long)
  • 500ml lightly seasoned stock
  • 500ml water
  • 350g firm tofu 
  • 12 slices dried shitake mushrooms, roughly chopped
  • 1 tsp dashi powder (about ½ one of my sachets)
  • 2 thumb sized knobs of ginger, finely grated
  • 1 large carrot, cut into matchsticks
  • 800g pumpkin, peeled and chopped
  • kernels of one corn cob
  • 1 cup cooked brown rice
  • about 10 brussels sprouts, trimmed and quartered
  • 1 tbsp white miso
  • 1 tbsp tamari (or less)
  • 3 tbsp mirin
  • 1-2 spring onions, finely chopped
  • stalk of one bunch of broccoli, peeled and finely chopped
Soak kombu in cold water for about 15 minutes (which can be done while you are preparing veg), then drain and cut into thin strips. (The soaking liquid can be reserved and tipped into the soup)

Place stock, water, tofu, shitake mushrooms, dash, ginger and carrot into a large saucepan or stockpot and bring to the boil. Simmer for about 5 minutes. Add pumpkin, corn kernels, brown rice and kombu and simmer for 5 minutes. Add Brussels sprouts and cook for about 3 minutes.

While the vegetables are cooking, spoon some hot stock into a cup or small bowl and dissolve the white miso into the stock. Stir in tamari and mirin.

Add miso mixture, spring onions and broccoli stalk to the soup. Simmer for about 1-2 minutes. Serve hot.

On the stereo:Calling for Vanished Faces: Current 93


  1. Please, Johanna, can I have some more? :D

    And I truly mean that - this is absolutely the kind of soup I love. Chunky yet light, full flavoured without being overly salty, warming without making you need to lie down afterwards. Plus, after my recent positive arame experience, I'm well up for more seaweed fun!

  2. I have given you an award, Johanna.

  3. Pumpkin soup with bits - delicious!!!

  4. Hehe Mr NQN would totally do the Tim Tam thing. Or actually he'd ring me and ask me (he has learnt that it's not fun having to go back for things :P )

  5. This looks delicious. Unlike anything I've ever made, but I actually have all the ingredients in my fridge right now. Will try tomorrow!

  6. I know for sure I won't be cooking up this Pumpkin Soup any time soon. I need to go grocery shopping big time!!! I had to laugh to myself when I read about E. and the "misprint" Kudos to him for trying:)

    The museum outing sounds adventurous. I'm thinking Sylvia had a ball!!! I'm not much of a movie buff myself but bookends are a favorite thing of mine and those look adorable:)

    Thanks for sharing, Johanna. I do enjoy dropping by...

    P.S. I'm not sure if I ever "introduced" you but just in case, have you ever visited the blog Bread & Roses? I think you would like it. Congrats on the award!!!

  7. This looks entirely amazing! I can't wait until fall when it will be in season for me! I love pumpkin, I love brussels sprouts, I love mirin, I love Japanese soups! Yum!

  8. How wonderfully hearty and delicious! Great dish!!!!

  9. Thanks Hannah - I wish I had this sort of soup more. I love a bit of seaweed - and think this soup was successful with it because E never started making rude comments about the kombu.

    Thanks Michelle - very kind of you

    Thanks Cakelaw - yes, just my kind!

    Thanks Scrumptious - you might like to note that the type of pumpkin I used is often referred to as Kabocha Squash in America. Hope you enjoy

    Thanks Lisa - I keep thinking I should try different versions but this one was very good!

  10. Yep, as soon as I read, "tins toms" I thought, "tins of tomatoes"! Hee hee.

    Sorry to hear you're still sniffling, but that does sound like a very comforting soup. I love that you included so many veggies. I've tried brussels sprouts in soup before but found they really overpower everything else--maybe this soup is hearty enough to stand up to them!

  11. Hahaha oh Johanna that is hilarious that E bought tim tams when you wrote tins toms. I agree that it's much easier to eat healthier when you have time. Right now I'm so tired of chopping vegetables! Sylvia's book end is so cute!

  12. Thanks Ricki - I know what you mean about brussels sprouts - but this soup has strong flavours and if you cook them till just done they don't tend to have such an overwhelming flavour

    Thanks Ashley - I have nights where chopping vegetables is too much effort - but when I do it I appreciate it!


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