Soup is like a bowl full of love. To me, it doesn’t matter what the flavour of the day is, it just always tastes like love. Even when I have made the soup myself, I find it so nurturing, soothing, warming.
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I had my heart broken very badly 15 years ago. I was actually the one who left him after six years of dating and living together but still my heart was broken. It took a lot of courage to walk out the door and move out on my own for the very first time in my life. My family were my strength, as they always are in a time of crisis. My Mum and Dad let me cry, lay on their laps and regress to feeling like a little girl again. My Sister kept me company many nights in my new flat where we shared too many bottles of wine (for medicinal purposes) and my Brother, well… he wasn’t ready to understand what the pain was like but he does now and his cuddles, now that we are all grown up, make up for it no end.
I got one of my Brother’s big cuddles a month ago. Our darling ‘Pop’ sadly passed away and we were all so blessed to spend his final days with him in hospital. The last time I kissed my Pop goodbye (and really knowing it was going to be the last time) felt like someone had quite literally punched their hand through my chest, grabbed hold of my heart and ripped it out. Walking out the hospital, my brother choking back his own tears, enveloped me in his massive arms and then gently just kept his arm around me for the long walk back to the car. Our Mum and Dad walked slowly behind us. My Dad had just lost his Dad and I feel the weight of that with such force but cannot even fathom what it would be like to lose your own father. A big part of our world had just peacefully slipped away and the pain was too huge.
I called my Nana on Sunday night to wish her a happy Mother’s Day. For such an energetic and fit woman, I couldn’t help but notice how tired she sounded. She is grieving and has lost the true love of her life. They were so very beautiful together and even in Pop’s last days and without being able to see, his face would beam when he would hear Nana’s voice as she entered the hospital room. He would mutter ‘Hey….Joan-y babes’ and everyone’s heart, including (I am sure) hers, would melt. Nana doesn’t feel like eating lately and this is a woman who has loved entertaining, cooking and feeding others her whole life. It is just her now. She has lost her reason to cook. I have her same love of entertaining and all that the kitchen and table symbolises, I felt the loss so much with her as we chatted Sunday night.
When I was sad all those years ago, my Nana & Pop invited me to dinner. It was one of the most memorable but simple meals I have had. Without fuss, Nana made this Pumpkin soup. We shared some wine whilst she warmed the bowls. They made me feel so loved at that table as my warm soup was poured in to my warm bowl. A little cream was added right there at the table and then fresh parsley straight from the garden was added on top. It was the most delicious pumpkin soup I had ever eaten and my Nan hand wrote me the recipe which I treasure very much. Whether it was the recipe itself or the fact that I felt so loved, I do not know but this is still my favourite pumpkin soup recipe. It makes me feel everything is okay. I think my whole family need this soup right now and especially my Nana. I will cook it for her and hope that it gives her a little of her taste back, a little of her love for food back, it might also make her smile, as it does I, as I remember her and Pop at the table. I cry as I remember it…….. but I think it also helps my heart to heal.
My Nana’s best ever pumpkin soup
What I have changed from my Nana’s original recipe is that I roast the pumpkin, onion and garlic in the oven. Nana used to cook these ingredients down on the stove top and stir continuously until softened, before adding any liquids. Maybe I am just lazy and am avoiding the continuous stirring but I like to call it ‘generational efficiency’.
1 x 2kg whole butternut
1 red onion left whole
2-3 cloves of garlic, skin on
Olive oil, for drizzling
750ml chicken stock
150ml single cream plus extra to serve
1 tablespoon honey or maple syrup
Fresh parsley to serve
Preheat oven to 220°C.
Cut the pumpkin in half lengthways and scoop out the seeds.
Place the pumpkin, cut-side up, and onion on a baking tray.
Wrap the garlic loosely in foil (to avoid burning) and drizzle with a little olive oil.
Drizzle the pumpkin and onion with a little oil and sprinkle with salt.
Bake for 1 hour or until the pumpkin is just soft and starting to brown. Scoop the pumpkin out of the skin and into a blender.
Scoop the onion flesh away from its skin and add to the blender. Squeeze the garlic directly out of it’s skin and in to the blender. Add 1 cup (250ml) of the chicken stock and blend until smooth.
Pour the mixture into a saucepan, add remaining stock, cream and honey.Place over medium heat until soup is heated through.
Serve with my Nan’s touches of a little fresh parsley from the garden and a swirl of cream.
A little freshly grated ginger or a squeeze of fresh orange juice is also a lovely addition to this soup during the cooking.
Although not a soup that is in trend right now, I love a good bowl of pumpkin soup and it is with a lot of honour I share you this one of my Nana’s. I hope it brings you as much warmth, love and healing as it has done me over the years. Enjoy. xx