Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Recipe: Pumpkin Soup (and a Taxi Full of Grandma)

Last week it was Mr Tabubil's turn to bring something edible to his friday morning meeting, and everyone in his office voted, as they should have done, for the Best Chocolate Brownies Ever.
            I seemed to owe everybody chocolate last week - Mr Tabubil's office, my students, my supervisors, my sewing circle -
            What with a kitchen full of racks of cooling brownies I ran late for work.  The bus only comes past once an hour, so I called a taxi -
          And swung inside, with a knapsack full of tupperware tubs full of baked heaven.
The driver took a long, deep breath -
            "Oh my."   She sighed.  Long and deep and rapturous.  "Oh MY.  You smell - "
            "I do?"  I said, chagrined.  "I've had a shower, I've changed my clothes - I can't possibly still smell of cooking!"
            "Oh you do." She said emphatically.  "You smell like -oh, I shouldn't say it."
            "Like what?"  I said, intrigued.
            "Oh, you smell like my grandmother.  Like you remember your grandmother smelling from when you're small, after she's been baking good things all day."
            I gave her a brownie.
            And she gave me a recipe for pumpkin soup, and talked about the importance of not forgetting to add the bacon at the end all the way to the school.  I'd never contemplated bacon in a pumpkin soup.  Can't imagine why.  Bacon goes with everything.

Yesterday I caught another taxi (honestly, when the bus runs  through town once an hour in each direction, unless you have a lot of spare time on your hands, you tend to take a lot of taxis.) and the soup-lady was my driver.  
As soon as we were rolling:
            "Did you make the soup?"
            "The soup was fantastic."
            "Really? You really liked it?"
            "It was amazing."  I said.  "I made it on the weekend, when I boiled up a new pot of chicken stock."
            "I'm so glad."  She said, gazing at me in the rear view mirror.  "You wouldn't happen to have any more of those chocolate brownies on you, would you?"
            I laughed and said no, and she sighed and looked back to the road and was the model of silent chauffeurial service until we arrived at my destination.
            At which point she snapped the locks shut and turned around in her seat and said that if I liked the recipe for Pumpkin Soup I was going to love her pasta salad.  And her Backyard BBQ Hawaiian Coleslaw.

Pumpkin Soup:
1 Liter home-made chicken stock (the store bought stuff is insipid. Pre-packaged mediocrity.)
1 butternut squash
3 medium sized potatoes
4 carrots
3 cm of peeled ginger -diced
2-3 cloves garlic - crushed (only add garlic and ginger if you haven't used any in your stock.)
1 pack of English bacon (the sort with a minimum of fat)
A little sour cream
Fresh mint

Peel the vegetables.  Dice them and boil them, along with the ginger and garlic, in the stock till soft.  (20 minutes or so.) Mash with a potato masher.  Finely dice the bacon and toss into the soup.  then pull out the hand-held mixer (or the blender) and blend till you have a soft puree.   Stir in two or three spoons of sour cream to give it a kick. 
Dice a handful of mint.
Serve the soup with a spoonful of sour cream on top, and a side of diced mint to stir into it as you eat.

Hawaiian Coleslaw:
One packet of supermarket coleslaw mix from the fresh veg. section.
Half a bottle of mayonnaise.
One can of crushed pineapple (with juices.)
Tip everything into a bowl and stir until everything is coated with everything else.

I confess I haven't tried this one.  It's a little intimidating.

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