I have complained to you about the lack of central heating in buildings in Paris before, and I’m going to do it again! We live in an apartment, and the heating of the whole building is centrally controlled, which means that it’s October now, and I can’t turn on the heating myself. Someone (no clue who that is) decides when the magic is going to happen for us.
When this happened last year (on a random saturday in October, around 11.00 AM), MrintheKitchen and I almost did a little dance in our living room. That very morning we were having breakfast under a blanket, and all of the sudden someone must have said: “Let there be warmth” because there it was. I now really appreciate the central heating I have in my Dutch apartment, ready to work when I want it. Though we’re never really sure about the dates, it’s safe to say the heating goes on sometime in October, and is turned off in April. No matter what the weather is like, a bit like people who’ve served in the army, who stop wearing a sleeveless shirt under their normal shirt on April first, because that’s an order!
Luckily for us, this year, fall has been exceptionally warm so far, resulting in way less days of freezing my ass off (pardon my French!). But I have vivid memories of last year’s October, when it was rainy, windy and grey. As we lacked a warm house, I tried to stay warm by layering up (usually by wearing two sweaters at the same time), using blankets (my laptop was comfortably resting on one almost permanently) and of course, warm food. When it’s cold outside and inside, I try to use the oven as often as I can, turning the kitchen in a cosy, warm place, and drink hot steamy mugs of tea all day long.
As far as food goes, soup is usually my answer to the cold. I try to find a cute pumpkin, to turn into a warming pumpkin soup. Bright orange and just spicy enough to make me consider taking off my second sweater (just before I think “What am I, an idiot? Deliberately losing much needed heat at this point would be just plain stupid.” So I keep it on.)
Once you’ve cut the pumpkin, this soup is dead easy to make, just boil everything until soft and blend. I’ll admit, I have trouble cutting pumpkins, their skin can be pretty tough. But my friend L gave me a fantastic trick: punch a few holes in the pumpkin with a knife and microwave it for a few minutes. You’ll see cutting the pumpkin is a breeze after this. My pumpkin weighed 1,2 kg (42 oz) and after 4 minutes in the microwave it was ready to be cut. A safe way of doing this, is by microwaving the pumpkin just one minute at a time, after which you can test if you can cut it. If you can’t, put it back for another minute, etc.
Combining the pumpkin with an apple, was actually my sister S’s idea. It gives the soup some freshness, and the sourness of the apple goes well with the very sweet pumpkin. This soup freezes well, so don’t be afraid of making too much, it’s a great too-busy-to-cook-day lunch or dinner.
- Pumpkin, 1 (about 1.2 kg / 42 oz), washed and cut into pieces (leave the skin on, see blogpost for tips on cutting the pumpkin), also take out the pits in the centre (you could dry them in the oven, with some salt they make a great snack)
- Water, 600 ml
- Apple, 1, peeled and diced
- Salt & pepper
- Cinnamon, ½ tsp
- Ground chili peppers*, ½ tsp
- Heavy cream, 3 tbsp
- Optional: Coriander, to garnish
- Put the pumpkin pieces with the water in a big pan and let boil softly for 30 minutes, until even the skin is very soft
- Add the apple and boil another 5 minutes
- Blend until very smooth
- Season with salt and pepper (I've used 2 tsp of salt, that seems a lot, but I didn't use any stock to make the soup, so it does need some flavoring)
- Add the cinnamon, chili and cream
- Serve and garnish with coriander (optional)