This week Celebrity & Fellow Master Chef Steven Saunders, proprietor of The Little Geranium in La Cala uses left over Halloween pumpkins to make a special soup for The Queen Mother!
POST Halloween we all seem to have a lot of pumpkins that we have bought and didn’t use, so don’t throw them away!
In a posh restaurant we call a soup a velouté! Why? Well simply because a velouté is usually made from stock made with some cream (a white stock) and a soup is a puree of vegetables.
But both are correct, however in this modern and slightly pretentious world we like to call a soup something a bit more elaborate when its more than a soup and this recipe is certainly worthy of that!
The first time I made it was for a Halloween party at The Savoy Hotel, London with the Queen Mother attending. The Executive Chef called me and said “Saunders, you have the amuse.”
So there is another word for you. An amuse is the shortened version of the French word amuse-bouche or amuse-gueule which literally translates as ‘to amuse your mouth or throat!’
It’s different to an appetizer as it’s not something ordered from a menu; it’s something the kitchen sends you to get your taste buds working and to give us a bit of time preparing your first course!
So in effect I could send anything to the Queen Mum as an amuse, but it was a Halloween party and I wanted to send something with a Halloween theme.
I asked the others in the kitchen what the party was having as starter, main and dessert and was surprised that all the dishes sounded pretty normal, not Halloweeny at all.
“No pumpkin anywhere?” I enquired. “Nope ‘cos it’s a crap veg and no one likes it which is why they make faces out of it,” was their reply. Bear in mind… this was 1977!
So off I went to prove the bullies of the kitchen (and they were bullies) wrong and try and make something out of pumpkin. I started thinking along the lines of a mini caramelized pumpkin salad using the seeds also and then thought about a soup or rather a velouté!
To give the pumpkin some depth of flavour and a hint of sweetness I roasted it in cubes (peeled) until soft with a little olive oil and a touch of brown sugar and some spices.
I then pureed the pumpkin and made a vegetable stock, separately. The vegetable stock must be packed with flavours so I used leeks, garlic, onions, celery, white mushrooms, carrots and bay leaves.
Then I blended the pumpkin and added some vegetable stock to it bit by bit to control the flavour and texture. I was shocked. It tasted amazing!
I could taste the slightly sweet pumpkin and the aromas of the vegetables and spices came through also.
It was smooth and silky and delicious but it needed something more to make it more like Halloween, maybe a spider’s web? So I made a black oil from black garlic and painted webs onto the top of each soup with the black oil in squeezy bottles.
Then I sent the soup, stopped, stood back and waited for a response. They cleared the amuse and sent the starter which was some kind of pear with blue cheese thing, it looked awful.
I waited for the feedback but it never came and the bully chefs said…”told you, pumpkin is S-t!” At the end of the meal the maître d asked the party to vote for their favourite Halloween dish.
Nearly 70 per cent voted the amuse! I was overwhelmed and shed a little tear. The bully chefs heard the news and said that they must have meant the first course because no one would vote for a pumpkin soup!
The maître d interrupted and said “Absolutely not. The guests and the Queen Mother have asked to meet the chef who made the pumpkin soup.”
I walked out into the Lancaster suite and everyone clapped. As I walked back into the kitchen the bullies threw pears at me. “Yes,” I said. “It’s the best thing for the hard old pears; you can’t eat them so you may as well throw them!” OMG I was in trouble now!
Steven Saunders’s opinions are his own and are not necessarily representative of those of the publishers, advertisers or sponsors.
Spiced Pumpkin Velouté
Makes approximately eight servings
- 1 small pumpkin peeled and cut into 3cm chunks (seeds removed)
- Olive oil
- 2 tsp Maldon salt
- I tsp Black pepper
- 700ml/ 1 litre vegetable stock (see recipe below)
- 200ml of thick cream
- 100g of unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoon of ground mixed spices
- 1 tablespoon of brown sugar
- Half a lemon
For the black oil
- Simply buy some peeled black garlic and whizz it with some light olive oil until you have a black coloured olive oil
Method for velouté
- Place the chunks of peeled pumpkin onto a baking tray and drizzle with olive oil, season well and add the brown sugar and the spices
- Cover with tin foil and put in a pre-heated oven (180ºC) for one hour or until tender
- Blend this in your food processor until it is a thick puree
- Pass or blend the vegetable stock
- Add the veg stock ladle by ladle to the pureed pumpkin running the machine so that you can see how thick it is and stop occasionally and taste. You may not need one litre
- Now add the cream and the butter and blend again so that it emulsifies the soup
- Now add the lemon juice and check seasoning and correct and serve.
Premium vegetable stock
- 1 tbsp of olive oil
- 2 tbsp of butter, (omit if making a vegan stock)
- 1 onion peeled and sliced
- 1 leek washed and chopped
- 2 celery sticks washed and chopped
- 200g of white button mushrooms sliced
- 1 whole bulb garlic sliced through horizontally
- 350ml white wine (or half a bottle)
- 2/3 bay leaves
- 12 peppercorns whole
- 2 carrots washed and chopped
- 750ml bottle of pure mineral water
- Heat the oil and butter (if using) in a large stock pot
- Add the vegetables and sweat until just starting to colour
- Add the wine now and reduce a little
- Now top up with the water until the vegetables are just covered by a few centimetres. Bring to the boil then, using a ladle, skim away any scum which rises to the top
- Turn down to a simmer then add the bay leaves, thyme and peppercorns. Leave to gently simmer for 45 mins to one hour
- Strain through muslin or a clean tea towel so you are left with a nice clear stock
- You can now return the clear stock to the pan and reduce down for a more intense flavour (good for adding to sauces and soups)
- The stock will keep for three to five days in the fridge or will freeze well for six months.
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The Little Geranium, Winner of Best Contemporary International Restaurant 2019-Costa Del Sol – www.thelittlegeranium.com