When i was at university i came across a wonderful vegetarian recipe book, called the Vegetarian Adventure Cook Book, by Rowan Bishop and Sue Carruthers. The book seems quite old fashioned by today's cookbook standards - not a photograph in sight, although each page is beautifully illustrated with black and white pen drawings. The recipes tend to be quite heavy on the dairy products, but there are a few that i still return to on a regular basis.
The Spicy Pumpkin and Lentil soup was a favourite of mine for many years; these days i make my own version, but it is strongly influenced by 'The Vegetarian Adventure'.
The lentils mean that this soup is not as pretty as a straight pumpkin soup; the colour is not so bright, and it is impossible to get this soup as smooth as a plain pumpkin soup can become with a good blending, but they do help make it a very hearty soup. A line in the Vegetarian Adventure states that "it tastes delicious and is substantial enough to appease those traditionalists who believe that a soup's rightful place is as an entree to a main meal". Yesterday i made a double batch; i froze some in its super thick state in single-serve batches for a good friend of mine, and thinned the rest down a bit for our dinner. Served with a salad on the side, and a loaf of Easy No Knead Bread, it made a very satisfying meal.
SPICY PUMPKIN & LENTIL SOUP
1 cup green or brown lentils
1&1/3 cups water
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 large onions, diced
2 stalks celery, chopped
1.5 teaspoons ground turmeric or 2 tablespoons fresh grated turmeric
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 teaspoons garam masala
thumb-sized knob of fresh ginger, grated
1.5kg pumpkin (about half a largish pumpkin), cut into chunks.
1.5 teaspoons salt
4 cups vegetable stock
Simmer the lentils, covered, in the water for 15-20 minutes. At the end of this time there should be no water left.
While the lentils are cooking, heat the oil in a large fry pan. add the onion and celery and turn the heat down to moderate/low. Cook gently, stirring occasionally, until the onion is translucent. Add the grated ginger and other spices and cook 2-3 minutes longer, stirring. Add the cooked lentils to this and mix well. Remove from heat and set aside.
Place the pumpkin, stock and salt in a pot and bring to the boil. Cook until the pumpkin is tender. Mash roughly and add the lentil/onion/spice mixture. Stir together, then pour into a blender or food processor and blend thoroughly. You will have to do this in several batches. At this stage the soup is like a thick puree. I like to freeze it in serving-sized batches at this stage; when it has been defrosted for eating you can thin it with either hot water, stock or coconut milk to the desired consistency.
Reheat until piping hot, and season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Serve with a dollop of thick natural yoghurt