It was a cool April afternoon, I was a brand new country-dweller chatting about the change of season with a neighbour. All innocence, I told of my excitement about having a fire that night, the year’s first. She shook her head (and may even have tch tch’d – if memory serves). No she said, no fires until after Anzac Day.
There seem to be a whole range of rules firmly embedded into country living. The fire one, and the one about not planting your tomatoes till after Melbourne cup (in our part of the world at least) are of course to be taken with a good grain of salt. But others, like always taking your shoes off at the door, and never gloating to another farmer about how much rain you’ve had unless you’re sure they’ve been as lucky – are just common sense.
So here’s another for the later category; come Autumn, start making soup and don’t stop. Because, having a vat of soup in the fridge ready to be reheated on chilly days, poured into a mug for a quick lunch, into a thermos for an instant picnic or tricked up with a salad, block of cheddar and loaf of bread for a comforting supper; is an incredibly rewarding thing.
There is little time, effort and expense involved in making a soup like this roasted pear and pumpkin one. Your oven does all the heavy lifting and the result is a smooth, delicious and richly flavoured bowl of goodness. Now at this point, I would say lets all go off and make a batch to enjoy in front of a crackling fire tonight but alas, there’s still a couple of weeks to go till Anzac Day.
Roasted pear and pumpkin soup
1.5kg butternut or kent pumpkin, peeled, de-seeded and roughly chopped
4 pears, cored and quartered
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1 brown onion, peeled and quartered
4 tbsp olive oil
4 tbsp thyme leaves
1 litre stock (chicken or vegetable), warm
60g butter, cubed
To serve; homemade or store-bought dukkah, crumbled feta, creme fraiche or natural yogurt.
Preheat oven to 180C. Combine the pumpkin, pears, garlic and onion on a couple of baking trays. Drizzle with the olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt, freshly ground black pepper and the thyme leaves. Bake for about 45 minutes or until the onions are caramelised and the pumpkin is completely tender. Transfer a quarter of the roasted vegetables to a blender with a quarter of the stock and butter. Blitz until smooth then repeat with remaining vegetables, stock and butter. Add a little more water if you think it’s too thick. Check and season to taste then refrigerate until needed or reheat and serve with a good sprinkle of dukkah. Serves 4-6.
This article first appeared in Domain Living.
And if you are interested, there’s a rather interesting comment thread on my Instagram post about this article with some really fabulous, funny and quirky country ‘rules’ shared from all over the world.