It’s December! And is there a better time for sweet culinary indulgence in good company when the weather outside is… frightful? 🙂 Luci, one of my closest university friends now lives in Brussels and we had decided to have a festive weekend together. First, Christmas market in Antwerp, then cooking in Brussels. The former was a failure (for those interested, the Antwerp Christmas market opens this upcoming Saturday…) but the latter was a fabulous success! What was on the menu? Pumpkin soup! To brighten our lives, to make us warm inside, to counterbalance the colourless sky.
I love pumpkin soup. I have discovered a version that I really enjoy and make it the same way every time. Luci has had the same process of trial and error like me. But once she received a massive compliment about her soup, comparing it to a very special, traditional Czech taste (and that’s where she is from) so it was decided. This was to be her champion.
Back to cooking. Enter the supporting act – carrots, onions, garlic, parsnip.
And while Luci was setting up the kitchen, I did what I had been repeatedly told not to do as a child – I played with food! For the art… (?).
Luci’s kitchen is like Disneyland for foodies – there is so much of so many things there! And it all looks really pretty. Every time I go there I get inspired to up my kitchen equipment game when I return home.
Yes, yes, the soup. So Luci boils the onions (only peeled, not cut), the carrots (only peeled, not cut), the crushed but whole garlic cloves (2 or 3) and the parsnip (peeled, and cut) in chicken bouillon. But no Maggi cheats here – she puts one whole chicken thigh inside the pot, for stronger flavour. Then we cut and peel the pumpkin (hey, this time I actually helped a bit with the process!) and toss it in as well. Some herbs and on it boils for about one hour. At the end, Luci removed the onions and garlic cloves, and pureed the mixture with a blender. Back on the stove, some cooking cream (and some chilli flakes), brought to a simmer and done.
In the meantime, she fried some pre-marinated chicken and turkey chunks (impeccable preparation!) and made croutons in the pan. And it was serving time!
This turned into a full blown meal, and it was a feast for the eyes, too.
A great cook, a great friend, and altogether a great Christmas warm-up.