Lazy Sunday Lunch – Spiced Pumpkin and Kumara Soup with coconut cream and homemade garlic bread

Pumpkin and Kumara Soup

Hi there, how’re you this week?
Oh that’s great! That does sound like fun.

I myself and everyone else in New Zealand have been experiencing a rather nasty bout of wintry weather. It’s only just eased off now but it is still quite cold in Auckland. So cold in fact that last night I had to turn on my electric blanket! That gave me a shock. Any way, on to this weeks recipe.

This week I’m continuing my soup theme with a gorgeous pumpkin and kumara soup adapted from the Alison Holst Family Favourites cook book. It originally just had pumpkin in it but my Granddad decided it would be interesting to remove a third of the pumpkin and replace it with kumara. I enjoyed it so very much that I knew I had to put the recipe up on my blog. He and I have also upped the quantity of garlic and added the odd extra spice as well. Anyway it’s an absolute delight to eat. Make it your Sunday lunch this weekend. I had it for mine and I wasn’t disappointed.

Notes about the recipe – On the odd chance you don’t know what kumara is, it’s just a New Zealand version of a sweet potato, also commonly known as the potatoes Maori cousin.

For those who don’t like pumpkin/kumara – If you like me don’t enjoy the taste of pumpkin and/or kumara then let me tell you that you should not at all be put off from making this recipe. When you cook them in a soup they turn into a creamy, rich and sweet delight and they have none of the taste you don’t like that you normally find when they are roasted or mashed. On the other hand though, if you do enjoy pumpkin or kumara then you should also enjoy this recipe.

Recipe – Spiced Pumpkin and Kumara Soup with coconut cream

Serves 6-8

“Pumpkins are good vegetables which we often take for granted . Inexpensive, and available for all the cold months, they make a wonderful base for soups. Pumpkin soup does not need to be thickened by any starchy ingredients – in fact the pumpkin puree usually needs to be thinned. This gives the cook great scope, since there are many suitable ‘thinning’ liquids available. Coconut cream is one.” – Alison Holst, a fantastic New Zealand cook book writer.

Ingredients –
2tbsp of butter
10 cloves of garlic, diced
4 tsp of ground cumin
2 tsp of ground coriander
1 kg of pumpkin, unpeeled
500g of kumara (sweet potato), unpeeled
2 cups of water
1 tin of coconut cream or coconut milk
1 tsp of salt, or to taste
2 tsp of tobasco sauce, or to taste
6 kaffir lime leaves (optional)

Method –
Chop the pumpkin and kumara into chunks. Set aside. Gently cook the garlic with the butter in a very large pot, lid on for 1 or 2 mins. Add the spices and cook for another minute or so before adding the pumpkin, kumara, lime leaves and water to the pot. Cover and cook gently for 10 mins or until the pumpkin and kumara is tender, adding more water if it evaporates during the cooking time. Leave until cool enough to handle, then peel out seeds and peel off the skin. Put the remaining flesh in a food processor, puree, then add the coconut cream/milk , salt and tobasco sauce. Taste and balance the flavours, adding more water or coconut if you think it is necessary. Sieve the soup to remove any debris and reheat when required. Serve with an assortment of cheeses, I reccomend blue vein and brie and the below recipe for garlic bread. Grapes, wine, cider or simple, warm bread would also go nicely.
Above recipe from the about sean’s food blog

Recipe – Homemade Garlic Bread
Serves 6-8 people well.

So many people make garlic bread wrong. Or badly. They always put theirs in tin foil before cooking it in the oven and I cannot understand what this is meant to achieve. Whenever I’ve tried it this way the bread has been soggy and the garlic less pronounced than I would have liked leaving something to be desired. My Granddad and I make ours by getting a nice baguette from a French bakery (If you’re living in Auckland I’d recommend La Tropiezienne in Browns Bay or Cafe Bonjour in Queen Street) and smear it with a combination of soft butter squished up with plenty of diced garlic. It works and tastes a treat. Far better than with your everyday tinfoil method.

Note – If you find that you run out of butter before all the slices of bread are covered then keep making more and continue to smear it onto the bread until done.

Ingredients –
2 baguettes from a reputable French bakery. Avoid ones made in your supermarket.
About 1/4 of a pack of butter, softened
6 cloves of garlic, diced, or to taste.

Method –
Get a bread knife and diagonally slice the baguettes into thin rounds, about three quarters of an inch thick. Dice your garlic and put it into a bowl with the softened butter. Thoroughly squish up with a fork until well combined. Generously smear the onto the slices of bread and then layer them on an oven tray lined with parchment paper. Place in a pre-heated oven at 180 degrees Celsius / 350 degrees Fahrenheit on bake, using the middle shelf. Cook till the bread is golden brown and the butter melted. Serve warm and enjoy.

Above recipe from the about sean’s food blog

Magic Mushroom Soup


Right, this week’s post is about soup; once again. But this particular soup is a mushroom soup though and it is the absolute best mushroom soup in the world! It’s quick and simple to make and has great results every time. Perfect for beginner cooks and is easy for making with small children. I especially like to make it in those blisteringly cold winter months we’re warm and comforting food is prevalent, but I can see no reason for not making it in Summer as it would work wonderfully for a dinner party, weekday family meal or a relaxed Sunday lunch. Also, I myself have made it several times and my Granddad hundreds so I can assure you that it’s a tried and tested recipe.

Oh, I would also like to point out that the two packets of instant mushroom soup in the ingredients list below should not put you off making this recipe whatsoever. They surprisingly add a lovely depth of flavour and character to the dish and you will find that they enhance the rich mushroominess of the soup throughout.

Anyway, this is definitely worth a try and I absolutely reccomend for you to make it as I am sure that once you’ve had it once and have sniffed its warm, rich, delicious smell which permeates the air in your kitchen and which warms you from the first spoonful raised to the mouth, you’ll never want to go back.

Note – This would be suitable as a side dish to accompany a main or as a meal in itself. If serving as a main then make sure to accompany with garlic bread, cheese and salad as recommended below.

Magic Mushroom Soup –

Serves six comfortably

DISCLAIMER – I would just like to point out that this soup does not contain any magic mushrooms.

Ingredients –

1 brown onion, sliced

3 rashers of bacon

100 g mushrooms (try to get two or more varieties if you can)

1 tbsp of butter

2 packets of Maggi mushroom soup, or your supermarkets equivalent

1 tbsp of soy sauce (Just cheap soy should do, Indonesian is too sweet and Japanese too marmitey, so just get a supermarket one. Highmark soy sauce is a good one)

600ml of milk

600ml of water

Salt, about 1 tsp, or to taste

Cheese and parsley to serve

Method –

Sauté finely chopped bacon and onion with butter in a medium-large pot. When almost cooked, add the finely chopped mushrooms and cook lightly. When the mushrooms are soft and the bacon and onion cooked, empty both soup sachets into the pot with the water and stir until boiling the continue to simmer for about 10 mins. Add the milk and soy sauce. Reheat the soup, but do not boil. If necessary, add salt and pepper. Serve in warm bowls with a generous handful of cheese for each, and parsley to garnish. Also accompany with some warm, crusty garlic bread (with plenty of garlic), a few generous slices of camembert or brie cheese and a nice winter salad, complete with dressing.

Nana’s/Mum’s Bacon Hock Vegetable Soup

Two weeks ago I did a post on pumpkin soup with the intention of celebrating the arrival of Autumn and of the cooler months of the year. Here in Auckland the winter’s getting closer and closer, and certainly colder, just the right time for a warm up, and I cannot think of anything better really than soup for that. Although dahl’s very good; I might have to cover that next week. Anyway, I thought I’d do another one, so here it is! My Nana’s/Mum’s recipe for bacon hock vegetable soup. It’s warming and hearty. It’s flavourful. It’s just the right thing for this time of year (at least in the southern hemisphere) and it’s simple and quick to make!

Nana's/Mum's Bacon Hock Vegetable Soup

Nana’s/Mum’s Bacon Hock Vegetable Soup – (Serves a family of four twice)

Ingredients –

Bacon Hock

2 cups of split peas with pea & ham soup flavouring

1 tsp of bacon stock powder, or some good quality stock

1 large brown onion, sliced

3 tsps of salt, or to taste

1 leek, thinly sliced

2 carrots, parsnips, potatoes and sticks of celery, sliced or chopped

Method –

Fill your largest pot ¾ full with water. Add all of the ingredients to it and bring to the boil. Simmer all afternoon or till the meat is tender enough for you to easily remove it from the bone, then remove from the pot, allow to cool a bit, and shred into thin slivers. Return the meat to the pot and leave on a low heat until you intend to serve it, or allow to cool and leave in the fridge for when you would like to have it. Serve with fresh warm, preferably buttered bread or enjoy as a starter.

Note – This soup should keep for several days in the fridge, and it freezes well too. Also, if you are going to cook it in advance then it’s worth noting that after you’ve reheated it the next day (in the pot) it will noticeably taste better. This is because the flavours will have been allowed more time to get to know each other and will have more depth. This is also true for most stews/casseroles, mince dishes even, and for marinades. If you don’t want to do this though, then don’t worry as it will still taste absolutely delicious.

This recipe is from the about sean’s food blog on wordpress. You can find it at –

This week I would like to talk about soup

Autumn in Auckland

Here in the Southern Hemisphere it’s mid-autumn and nearing winter so it seems to be the perfect time for eating and talking about soup. Today I’ve got a lovely recipe for it from Peter Gordon who is a fantastic NZ chef and food writer, and who is in my top ten of favourite food personalities. My Mum and I have been making this quite a lot at home; the last time was probably the fourth within three weeks; anyway it’s absolutely delicious, it’s warm, rich and has a great depth of flavour, so I thought I’d have to post it on the blog. And for people in America and Europe, I’d recommend that you book mark this for the icy months later in the year. This really is a treat. Note, as said in the recipe below, this would also be delicious with butternut squash. I haven’t tried it yet but I’m sure it would be gorgeous.

This recipe has been extracted from Peter Gordon Everyday, published by HarperCollins. You should find it available from most good booksellers, including Amazon, the book depository or

Pumpkin, Ginger, Chickpea and Cheese Soup – “This chunky soup could almost be a meal in itself as it’s robust, wholesome and very tasty. I love to put chickpeas in it, but you could also make it with cannellini, flageolet or butter beans instead.” – Peter Gordon

Pumpkin soup.


1 large white onion, peeled and sliced

1 large leek, washed and thinly sliced

2 cloves of garlic, peeled and diced

1 thumb of ginger, peeled and chopped

50g butter

2 good pinches of saffron, or ½ tsp of ground turmeric (I always use turmeric here, it adds even more yellowness to the soup and is more easily on hand)

600g of pumpkin or of butternut squash, peeled and roughly chopped

600ml of vegetable stock

1 x can of Italian garbanzo chickpeas, drained and rinsed well under tap

200ml of single cream

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

freshly grated nutmeg to taste

600g of grated cheese, (if you feel like it, try an aged cheddar or pecorino here. It will add a further depth to the flavour of the soup)

To garnish

100ml of sour cream

fresh chives

bit more freshly ground black pepper


1.Sauté the onion, leek, garlic and ginger in the butter over a low heat with the lid on, stirring occasionally, until everything softens and wilts.

2.Add the saffron (or turmeric), pumpkin or squash and half the stock, then cook over a low heat with the lid on until the pumpkin or squash is almost cooked. Mash it with a potato masher – it doesn’t need to be smooth.

3.Add the drained chickpeas, the remaining stock, the cream and plenty of coarsely ground pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer with the lid on and cook for 15 minutes.

4.Season with salt and add nutmeg to taste. Stir in the cheese and ladle into piping hot bowls. Dollop on the sour cream and snip a few chives over top.

Peter Gordon Everyday (A review of this particular book will appear in the book reviews section of this blog soon)

peter gordon everyday