Tuesday, June 14, 2011

DEADLINE RECIPES - Pumpkin and Pecan Soup

This week columnist Annie West shares one of her favourite recipes: easy, cheap and tasty enough to keep the whole family quiet while you focus on your deadline.

I hope this recipe works for you as it does for me. It's been a great standby when I'm faced with a hungry family on the prowl for food when I'm busy trying to finish a book. It's one of those recipes that you can alter to your own taste. In fact there is no written recipe - it's one I devised over the years when I realised I really didn't like soup that tasted like boiled pumpkin, yet still wanted something quick and easy that would keep everyone quiet.

It's closing in for winter here now and I just made an enormous pot of this about 4 days ago. It went down a treat. I usually include:

a pumpkin (butternut for preference but it doesn't matter),
vegetable stock (I buy the vacuum packed containers),
an onion or two,
bacon or, if you prefer, chorizo
pecans (shelled)
tinned chopped tomatoes (optional)

You can make this soup with a big chunk of pumpkin or with a whole pumpkin - just vary the amounts to suit. The instructions below suit a whole pumpkin.

Peel the pumpkin and chop into big pieces. I make slices between 1/2 - 3/4" thick. Lay the pieces on baking paper (optional but it cuts down the cleaning) on an oven tray or 2. Add a couple of peeled, whole cloves of garlic (I used 5 big cloves last time but my family adores garlic. If you don't enjoy it don't include).

Bake or grill in a moderate oven till a sharp knife goes in easily and remove from the oven. If I remember I turn the pumpkin over once during cooking but it doesn't matter. The aim is to get that nice, roast rather than boiled flavour. If you're likely to forget, set a timer for 20 mins then check again 10 mins later.

While the pumpkin is cooking, take your biggest saucepan and fry a couple of rashers of bacon (roughly chopped) and 2 large onions (roughly chopped) for 5-10 minutes. Add a handful or two of pecans and stir.

Add the pumpkin and garlic to the saucepan with 2 litres (approx 4US pints/3.5 UK pints) of stock. You can add a tin of chopped tomatoes if that appeals. Stir and heat through.

Blend the soup and season to taste. I find if I've used bought stock there's no need for extra salt.

Eat immediately or store in fridge or freezer for future use. If you've got a particularly thick soup just add a little extra water when you heat it. We serve it with hot buttered toast.

Enjoy! And of course, if you have a fave soup recipe of your own to share, I've love to hear about it!

Annie is celebrating winter in Australia with the news her new release PRINCE OF SCANDAL is Harlequin's Book of the Month! It's available from all the usual stores and you can read an excerpt or go in a contest to win a copy on her website.

She's thrilled that RAFE'S REDEMPTION is available now to North American readers (only from the eHarlequin site). This book was previously released elswhere as 'The Billionaire's Bought Mistress'. Here is the link to read more or buy it.


  1. Annie, that sounds luscious! It's been a chilly few days up here on the Sunshine Coast (although at least today there is some sunshine!). Soup is just the thing! Congratulations on the release of PRINCE OF SCANDAL! I think Raul is even more luscious than your pumpkin soup!

  2. Yum! I love pumpkin soup and the pecans sound like an inspired addition. And congrats on the release of Prince of Scandal!

  3. It's so hard to think that ya'll are in winter mode when it's in the upper 90's and we're all roasting here! lol. My favorite go to recipe when winter hits here is my homemade chili. I make a huge pot and my husband and I will eat off of it for a week just about. My mother taught me how to make it my first married winter.

  4. Oh, yummo, Annie! That sounds delicious! I love this cold weather--great for indulging in soup and a great book, like, say Prince of Scandal.

    Stay warm!

  5. Sumptuous, savory soup and sensational, sensuous story lines--Annie you're brilliant : )
    I love pumpkin soup, and your recipe sounds absolutely delicious! Congrats on "Prince of Scandal" and "Rafe's Redemption"!!!


    2 lbs. potatoes, peeled and diced
    1/2 lb. carrots, peeled and diced
    2 stalks celery, diced
    1 onion, diced
    4 c. water
    1 pint (16 oz) light cream
    1/4 c. butter, sliced
    1/2 tsp garlic salt (California-style with parsley flakes)

    8-oz. pkg. shredded Cheddar cheese
    3 slices bacon, crisply cooked and crumbled
    coarsely ground black pepper

    Combine vegetables and water in a stockpot over medium-high heat. Cook until vegetables are fork-tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Reduce heat to low; stir in cream, butter and seasonings. Heat through, but do not boil. Garnish each serving with a sprinkle of coarsely ground black pepper, and top with cheese and bacon.

  6. What a wonderful soup recipe, Annie. I love the addition of the pecans. Sounds like real comfort food--kinda the food equivalent of curling up and enjoying one of your fabulous books!

  7. Aw, shucks, Anna. I think Raul is nicer than this pumpkin soup too. Glad you agree. But when a girl's on a deadline having a dish that will last a few meals so you don't have to stay in the kitchen is just perfect! Hope you get some warm weather soon.

  8. Hi Vanessa. It's good to see you here. Thanks for the congratulations. I'm very fond of 'Prince of Scandal'. I think the pecans and the bacon make this meal - so much more interesting that straight pumpkin.

  9. Lolarific - enjoy that warm weather! I love the sound of a big pot of chilli. My son would adore it too.

    As for summer food - I actually know a great summer soup. A friend served it and it was perfect on a hot night as a starter. Puree a rockmelon and put aside. Puree a green honeydew melon with a little grated ginger and lemon. Pour both into a bowl slowly, side by side, and you have a bowl in which one half is green and the other orange and it's all delicious.

  10. Hi Vanessa. You're not spilling soup on my book are you? (G). I think you're right. We're in for a bad night tonight with the weather. Soup and a good romance would be perfect.

  11. Oh Virginia, trust you to come up with a terrific soup recipe. I think the cream would make it delicious and it sounds easy too.

  12. Kandy, you're too kind! Actually the pecans do work well. I can't remember how I came to add them the first time but I'm so gald I did.

  13. Annie, I can't wait to try this recipe - pecans sound brilliant! I love soups and I tend to make really big batches and freeze in meal-sized containers. So it's a quick and easy grab for something to eat when I'm in a hurry.

    My soup technique is pretty much a bit of whatever is in the fridge, plus lentils and barley then when everything is cooked I mash rather than bothering with the food processor. So sauted onions and garlic (we love it too) add all the other chopped vegetables (various combinations of potato, kumara, pumpkin, carrot, swede, beetroot, celery, maybe a leek, sometimes some cauliflower, those lentils and/or barley), with stock (I have to make my own because I have a problem with corn and that stuff gets everywhere!) some tarragon. Or maybe a bay leaf, sometimes some curry at the saute stage.

    Annie, I've read Prince of Scandal! I loved it! Congratulations on another fabulous book! A very deserving Book of the Month!


  14. Sharon, I love the sound of your soups! I think I may just have to visit your part of the world one winter...

    I'm so pleased to hear you enjoyed 'Prince of Scandal'. That's music to my ears!

  15. Annie, I love the cover of Rafe's Redemption -- almost as much as I loved the book! Sigh. It is one of my all-time faves of your books. Hmm, can feel a re-read coming on...

    Have to say I love the sound of your Pumpkin and Pecan soup. I recently made up a pot of vegetable soup and added roast pumpkin to it. You're right, the roasted flavour of the pumpkin is divine.

    P.S. Have to agree with the masses -- Raul is seriously dreamy :-).

  16. Pumpkin and Pecan Soup is really very delicious and healthy.......thanks dear for sharing.