While the countries that are encompassed in the region, or if you prefer, term “The Middle East” can lead to many arguments, I prefer to use them to bring about discussions of recipes and delicious food that can be shared by all. With food that is vibrant, colourful and aromatic, many Middle Eastern countries share recipes that are very similar, in fact the same dish in the same country can have many nuances, depending on who is cooking it, and what is available at the time.
Since purchasing my tagine many years ago, I have spent a great deal of time reading, trying, tasting and exploring the flavours of the Middle East, and while I have many favourite dishes, I have also incorporated these flavours into my own recipes as well.
This delicious pumpkin soup with the added flavour and texture from the toppings is just perfect for this time of year, here in Victoria – this winter it is so cold…
- 600 g Butternut pumpkin peeled and chopped into 2.5 cm dice
- 175 g Sweet potato peeled and chopped into 2.5 cm dice
- 125 g Onion peeled and chopped
- 75 g Celery chopped
- Olive oil
- Salt & freshly ground black pepper
- ½ tsp ground cumin
- 2 cups hot chicken stock
- 125 g eye bacon julienned
- 75 g French shallot thinly sliced
- 4 tsp Dukkah
- 4 tbs Greek yoghurt
Preheat oven to 200˚C.
Place pumpkin and sweet potato into a baking dish, drizzle with olive oil and use your hands to make sure that all pieces are coated. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake in oven for 30 minutes, until soft and slightly charred.
Meanwhile, heat 1 tbs olive oil in a saucepan, add the onion and celery, and sauté over a low heat until soft, but not coloured. Add cumin and continue to sauté until fragrant.
Add 2 tbs olive oil to a hot frying pan, and fry the shallots until crisp, remove from pan and drain on paper towel.
Add bacon to frying pan and fry until crisp, remove from pan, drain on paper towel and keep warm.
When pumpkin is ready, add to onion and celery, together with hot stock, bring to boil and then reduce heat to simmer for 15 minutes.
Blend your soup using a stick blender, or put it into a food processor or blender and blend until silky smooth. (If you are using a blender or food processor, allow the soup to cool a little before hand before pureeing.)
Return soup to pan, check seasoning, gently reheat.
Serve in nice wide bowls, topped each with a tbs of Greek yoghurt, some bacon, then shallots, finally sprinkle with dukkah, and if you must, a little drizzle of good extra virgin olive oil.
Inspired by a request for my Middle Eastern Roast Veg Salad with Baked Zaatar Tofu,
I have created a session where those attending will not only learn how to prepare the spice blends used in my salad, you will also participate in the preparation of the salad as well as a few other dishes that will be shared by the participants at the end of the session for a Mezze style lunch (see the link below for more details)
- Exploring the Flavours of the Middle East – Knowledge Sharing Session
- Pumpkin Soup with Yoghurt and a Crunchy Topping
- Spiced Oranges & Dates with Greek Yoghurt Cream
Until next time…