Wednesday 9 February 2011

Testing Prepped Caraway and Lemon Pumpkin Soup and Pie Double Cook

Last night, I did a bit of last minute recipe testing for the very clever Vanessa Kimbell for her soon to be in print book, Prepped.

The premise of the book is a series of linked recipes, in which you do one set of preparation, which can then be used to make more than one dish.
This is an idea which has been explored before - most recently on my bookshelf, in Allegra McEvedy and Paul Merrett's Economy Gastronomy - but I am particularly impressed by Vanessa's take - it's not so much about using up leftovers or stretching ingredients out (both of which are, of course, admirable), but more about being efficient with preparations and saving time in order to create delicious dishes using straightforward techniques and simple 'signature' flavours.
It all sounds great to me - I'm definitely looking forward to the finished article!

I tested caraway and lemon pumpkin soup and pie (Vanessa's recipe below).

The recipe was really straightforward (even the pie - I'm not someone who's particularly worried about making pastry, but I know that some people have a proper paranoia - this is exactly the kind of recipe to put them at ease) and didn't use any weird ingredients or equipment (though I had more trouble than I expected getting caraway seeds at short notice - I guess they're more the kind of thing I just have in the back of the cupboard than the kind of thing I actually buy!).

Due to season and that kind of thing, I used butternut squash, which absolutely suits my lazy nature, as I didn't even bother to remove the skin after roasting, which I would have needed to do with the pumpkin.

I only made one batch of the base recipe, and kept the mixture fairly thick, so after I had made the pie, I didn't have a massive amount left for soup, just a bowl or two, but that wasn't a problem - after all, there's a limit to the amount of soup one girl can eat!

The soup was good - even with the addition of the parmesan, it was a wee bit sweet for my taste, but obviously seasoning is fairly subjective, and a bit of salt and pepper was all I needed to counteract the sweetness of the squash.
I really liked the lemon flavour (though my husband was less certain) - in fact, for extra acidity, I might even chuck in some of the juice next time. That way, I'd end up with fewer zestless lemons in my fridge too ;-)

The pie, though, was a masterpiece (even if I do say so myself).

The pastry was a really good recipe - nice and easy to work with and absolutey delicious. Also - it didn't come out with a soggy bottom, despite the lack of blind baking, which I had wondered about when I started.

The caraway gave it a nice subtle spiciness, which was a lovely contrast to the usual cinammon bomb you tend to get in this kind of recipe and the lemon zest gave the whole thing a kind of magical lift - absolutely delicious.

I took it to a 90th birthday party at the weekend and it went down Extremely Well - everyone commented on how delicious it was.

I'm definitely going to be making this again - the pie in particular - hopefully pretty soon!

Recipe below.
I love the way that this is written – I think the introduction and the tips and uses are really nice!

Double cook
Caraway & Lemon Pumpkin Soup & Pumpkin Pie
Pumpkins are magnificent. They play a major part in the autumn food stash. Initially, I am always slightly intimidated by them: they look burly and tough and are often large. The reality is that pumpkins are actually soft and buttery once cooked, but I have to remind myself of that. They make super soup, fabulous pies and are great just roasted and tossed in herbs and butter, so I say that they are well worth tackling. Exposed to a constant gentle dry heat that softens and sweetens them, the fruit develops a depth of flavour that becomes the base for a mellow soup or pie. Deep orange in colour with citrus-fruit overtones and caraway undertones, this is a sweet autumnal taste.

Serves 8
Prep time 12 minutes, plus 1 hour roasting
Cooking time 10 minutes
Suitable for freezing? Yes

1.8kg pumpkin
2 tbsp olive oil
Pinch of salt
Zest of 2 unwaxed lemons
2 level tbsp caraway seeds
100ml water
50g Parmesan, grated
125ml single cream
Crème fraîche and Black pepper to garnish

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 5.
2. Cut the pumpkin into quarters. Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with a small amount of salt. Roast for 1 hour, give or take 10 minutes, depending on the thickness of the pumpkin. It is best overdone, to allow the sweetness to develop.
3. Let the pumpkin cool for a few minutes, then scoop the flesh into a blender along with the lemon zest.
4. Using a pestle and mortar, grind up the caraway seeds and add them to the blender. Add 100ml of warm water and blend. You can adjust the consistency to your liking by adding more or less water, but I do prefer mine served thick. Add the cream.
5. You can either pop this in the fridge to use later on (it will keep for 3 days ) or transfer it back to the stove and Serve hot . It is important that you don’t add the parmesan until you are ready to eat as this gives you the option of using it in the next recipe - pumpkin pie. Just before serving stir in grated Parmesan. Garnish with a dollop of crème fraîche and salt and pepper to taste.

• Select a medium-size pumpkin; they’re generally sweeter than large ones. Cut the pumpkin in half and again into quarters and scrape out the seeds. (Roast the seeds and eat them as a snack.) Take care to keep the flat side down when cutting into it; if you cut with the round side down, it can rock and you can very easily cut yourself.
• Pumpkins keep for up to 3 months providing the stem and skin are left intact.

Pumpkin Pie

Makes 1 large pie to serve 8 people
Prep time 20 minutes
Cooking time 35 minutes

For the pastry
250g plain flour (00 is good but not essential)
Pinch of salt
50g icing sugar
125g butter
2 egg yolks
30ml ice-cold water

For the filling
200g caster sugar
800ml of Lemon & Caraway Pumpkin Soup
3 eggs
1 tsp caraway seeds

1. Preheat the oven to 170 C/gas mark 3
2. Sift the flour, salt and icing sugar into a mixing bowl. Cut the butter into cubes in the flour, then rub between the fingertips until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Don’t overdo this. Keep your fingers deliberately light; it is essential to keep the mixture as cold as possible for the best texture.
3. Add the egg yolks and a little of the water and mix into a firm dough with a metal spoon. Use your judgment with the water: add a few drops at a time and mix; a few drops too much can make the pastry too wet.
4. Add the water little and often until the dough comes together. Once it does, quickly use your hands to form a ball, wrap it in cling film, and allow it to rest in the refrigerator for 30 minutes before using.
5. Roll out onto a floured board and use to line a 26cm quiche dish.
6. Mix the sugar, soup base and eggs together. Mix well and pour into the pastry-lined dish. Scatter with a teaspoon of caraway seeds and bake in the oven for 35 minutes.

• Both the pastry and the pumpkin mixture will keep in the fridge for 48 hours, so when you’re ready to complete it, simply pour the base into the pastry case and bake.
• If the pumpkin base is very cold, add an extra 5 minutes to the cooking time
You can use butternut squash in place of pumpkin for the same result.


  1. Just to let you know that the font on this post is too small to be read without straining.

    A fellow prepped tester

  2. @sliceofmylyfe
    How weird - it looks fine from here.

    I'll edit it now!

    Thank you!