A cashmere hug...
Making Nan Peterkin's spicy butternut soup
It was lovely to read your letter, although the thought of you pregnant and lonely made me sad…
What a perfect reminder of those moments in life when the kindness of strangers creates a lasting memory. It speaks to something you and I discuss so often; those strands of connection, warmth and kindness that come to us through food.
As I write, Nan’s soup is bubbling away on the stove, reminding me that smell is the sense most closely associated with memory. The combination of oil, butter, leek, onion and warming spices is intoxicating, especially on a cold grey day when winter still has us in her grip.
It will come as no surprise to you to know that I have tweaked the recipe/method slightly. I’ve omitted the orange as that doesn’t feel right; but I’ve left the apple, something I’ve never done before, but the fact that they are both at their peak in the same season reassures me it will work.
I substituted a leek for one of the onions, simply because it’s what I had, and cooked them together over a very low heat, much as I would an Italian soffrito. Once soft, mushy, and full of flavour, I turned up the heat and added the curry powder to fry off the spices before adding the vegetables.
As for stock, I’d love to tell you that I have a freezer full of rich golden
home-made broth, but that is seldom the case. However, I do make sure I use a good quality stock, either powder or liquid and add a couple of spoons of powdered bone broth for richness (and gut health.)
Again, it will come as no surprise to you that I felt compelled to jump down the pumpkin soup rabbit hole; discovering that many countries and cuisines have their own versions of pumpkin soup, made according to local seasoning preferences and produce varieties (there are at least 50 species worldwide).
Given that pumpkins of all shapes and sizes are at their best during autumn and winter, almost all the recipes are warming, hearty and sustaining.
A bowl of homemade soup is like a cashmere hug, as is Nan’s recipe so generously shared with you, and now all of us. I’m sure she would be very pleased to know she lives on in her recipe, and her kindness.
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