Pumpkin soup with black rice and prawns

Pumpkin soup with black rice and prawns

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This is the soup I make when I am on my own at home. I drop into the supermarket or the organic market next to our house and whatever I plan to buy, I alwayscome out with a pumpkin. I love the sweetness of the soup on its own, just with croutons and some grated

Parmesan, but the addition of the prawns and riceelevates it into something smarter, for when you want to serve it for friends.

  Most pumpkin and squash is good for soup as long as it is ripe and isn’t too watery. A ripe pumpkin will be quite heavy, with a strong sweet smell at the base, and when you tap it, it will have a hollow sound. Crown Prince is excellent, if you can find it, but butternut squash is good too.

  Don’t throw away the seeds, as you can roast them in the oven, season them, and snack on them. Mygrandfather was aggressively against wasting any food, so whenever my grandmother cooked pumpkin he would dry the seeds outside on pieces of wood, then sow some in the garden so we had pumpkins the following year, but he would keep some back which my grandmother tossed in a little bit of olive oil and salt. So tasty, and good for you.

  You could also use cooked prawns in this, but you don’t need to sauté them first. Just drop them into the boiling soup and make sure they are hot all the way through before serving.

  Black rice adds a bit of drama, but if you don’t have any, you could use some organic long-grain rice and cook to the time stated on the packet, instead.

Serves 6

Pumpkin such as Crown Prince, or butternut squash 1

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

black rice 100g

olive oil 2 tablespoons

double cream 150g

good vegetable stock1–1½litres

raw king prawns, cleaned and de-veined 18

1 Preheat the oven to 170ÆC/gas 3. 2 Cut the pumpkin or squash in half, then in half again, but leave the skin on. Scrape out the seeds (you can roast these separately if you like). 3 Pour some water into a roasting tin – to about 1cm deep. Season the pumpkin or squash and put into the tin. Cover with foil and put into the preheated oven for 1½ hours, then take off the foil and bake for a further 20 minutes, until the pumpkin is very soft. 4 Meanwhile, cook the rice in boiling salted water for 45 minutes, until just tender, then drain. 5 Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a frying pan and sauté the rice until crispy.

Scoop out the rice, keep to one side and clean the pan ready to cook the prawns. 6 Scrape the pumpkin or squash flesh from the skin and put it into a blender, discarding the skin. Add the double cream and blitz briefly, then add enough stock to blend to a smooth, velvety soup. How much stock you use will depend on the texture of the pumpkin, and how thick you like the soup to be, so you may not need it all. Return the soup to the pan and bring to the boil, then turn down to a simmer. 7 Meanwhile, heat the rest of the oil in the frying pan,and when hot put in the prawns. Season and sauté briefly until they change colour and are cooked through. 8 Pour the soup into warmed bowls and garnish with the rice and prawns.