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Pumpkin soup with fresh mint oil

COURSE
Soup 
SERVES
4-6 
PREP TIME
under 20 mins 
COOKING TIME
under 45 mins 

INGREDIENTS

  • 60ml olive oil
  • 2 medium onions chopped
  • 5 cloves of garlic finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp sage
  • 1.25kg pumpkin, peeled and de-seeded
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 3 sticks celery, chopped
  • 1 red chilli, finely chopped seeds and all
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon of allspice, ground
  • A pinch of cinnamon
  • 2 litres water

For the fresh mint oil

  • 3-4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • A large handful of mint leaves

METHOD

Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed saucepan and add the onions. Sweat over a medium heat for 5 minutes until the onions have started softening. Add the garlic and sage and cook for a while longer until the onions have started releasing their sugars and the garlic has started filling the kitchen with a lovely smell. At this point add the rest of the aromatic vegetables, the carrots and celery, together with the pumpkin, chilli, cinnamon and allspice. Season generously with a few teaspoons of salt and plenty of freshly ground pepper and throw in a couple of bay leaves (You are essentially making your vegetable stock for the soup as you go). Carry on sweating the vegetables until the pumpkin has started to soften. Pour over the water and bring to simmering point. To make the minte oil finely chop the mint leaves together with the garlic. Warm the olive oil to a gentle heat and add the garlic and mint. Simmer very gently for about 10 minutes, until the garlic has turned translucent. Try not to burn the garlic as it turns a very bitter flavour, rather than the sweet, cooked flavour you need. Set aside. This oil will keep in the fridge for at least a week and is delicious drizzled over soups, salads and pretty much anything else. In the Middle-East it is more commonly made with dried mint which lasts a little longer in the fridge. Simmer the vegetables until they are soft, about 15-20 minutes. Blend with a stick blender to create minimal washing-up and serve drizzled with a little of the mint oil.

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