Roasted Pumpkin soup with Almonds

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As a Cypriot I grew up eating “kolokotes”, the Cypriot version of  pumpkin pie, and undoubtedly a really -REALLY-  delicious pastry. But I cannot ever remember my mother or grandmother, ever using pumpkin for anything else, which is strange, considering the love Cypriots have for vegetable dishes. Maybe it’s because of the sweetness of pumpkin, that traditional Cypriot cooks, considered it to be a dessert ingredient. But now we know better. Roasting pumpkin brings out all the flavour and sweetness of this glorious vegetable, making it an amazing addition to salads, a nutritious and flavourful vegetarian main or a velvety, delicious soup.

I roasted the pumpkin for two reasons: One, because I lOVE the roasted flavour and caramelization on the pumpkin. Two, because as much as I love this vegetable, I absolutely hate peeling it. Roasting it with the skin, makes it so simple to just scoop out the flesh or peel off the skin, instead of struggling with a sharp knife. I added ground almonds for extra creaminess and served it with pumpkin seeds for crunch and pomegranate seeds for a nice, juicy zing.

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Ingredients for roasting the pumpkin

  • 1 kg pumpkin, unpeeled, sliced in about 5-6 cm pieces
  • 1 carrot, roughly sliced
  • 1 large red onion, sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and left whole
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the soup

  • 1/4 cup almonds
  • 2 cups vegetable broth (or 1 vegetable stock cube dissolved in 2 cups boiling water)
  • 4 Tbs double cream (you can leave out the cream if you are counting calories, the soup would still be delicious. But I do think it adds a velvety creaminess to this dish)
  • a pinch of cinnamon
  • salt and pepper to taste

Pomegranate seeds and pumpkin seeds to serve.

Method

Preheat oven to 160 C. Roast the almonds on a baking tray for 6-7 minutes, until lightly coloured and fragrant. Cool in a bowl.

Increase oven temperature to 190 C. Put the pumpkin, carrot, red onion and garlic in a baking pan. Drizzle with the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. bake for 45 minutes, until pumpkin is soft and cooked through.

Scoop out pumpkin with a spoon discarding flesh. You can also peel it off, after it cools a bit. Put pumpkin flesh, roasted onions, garlic and carrot in the bowl of a food processor. Add the almonds and one cup vegetable stock. Blend on high speed until everything is pureed. Add the remaining vegetable stock and the cream. Blend until smooth. Season with salt and pepper and a pinch of cinnamon.

Serve with pomegranate and pumpkin seeds.

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