Thursday, October 21, 2010

Pumpkin & Lentil soup with crispy cinnamon croutons

Loving Fall, oh yes. Pumpkins on the porch, chilly mornings at the bus stop, deep blue skies to backdrop the turning leaves and the beginning of the 'comfort food season'. This is my, and many others favorite season, so I thought I would get all creative like and showcase a brand new Autumnal recipe to get you well and truly into the spirit of all things Fall, (with an Irish twist, of course!)

So, see what you make of this one my foodie friends...'Pumpkin & Lentil soup with crispy cinnamon croutons'. Yum, yum. Yes, I took a few risks with this one, but my family raved about it, so why not give it a spin? Think of the dish as a combination between warm ginger bread and pureed root vegetables. Comforting indeed, eh?

But what about the ingredients? I hear you cry? Well, I have to admit that I do often cheat and use canned pumpkin puree and find it not only a quality product but a huge time saver, but, this afternoon in true Autumnal style I was quite determined to test this recipe using fresh pumpkin and came home with an adorably cute orange gourd from the market. I sliced it in half, removed the skin and after slicing my finger for the hundredth time with the blade I decided to roast it first. I placed the pumpkin, flesh side down with the seeds removed, on a foil lined baking sheet and roasted it for an hour. Viola! The flesh was easy-peasy to scoop out and add to the soup!

Our family then had this soup for a main course tonight as the lentils add a hearty element and texture for a suitable entree. One thing though, I did add a little crumbled apple wood smoked bacon for my meat lover husband who was happy to partake along with a chilled harvest style beer, and he swore that the bacon added to the soup made a great thing even better...I'll let you decide on that one!

So, enjoy the leaves turning, the silly costumes and buy a wee pumpkin to give this one a try!

Judith the Irish Foodie.

Pumpkin and Lentil soup with cinnamon croutons

(serves 6)

• 1 medium onion (finely chopped)
• 2 Tbsp butter
• 1 tsp fresh root ginger (grated)
• 1 cup lentils (rinsed and soaked)
• 5 cups vegetable stock
• 1 lb peeled pie pumpkin or a 16 oz can of pureed pumpkin puree
• ½ cup soft brown sugar
• 1 tsp kosher salt
• dash of freshly ground black pepper
• 1 tsp cinnamon
• ¼ tsp nutmeg
• ¼ cup heavy whipping cream

(Cinnamon Croutons)

• 6 ¼ inch slices of rustic baguette
• 3 Tbsp butter (room temperature)
• 1 Tbsp brown sugar
• ¼ tsp cinnamon


• ¼ cup cream fraiche (to garnish)
• pinch kosher salt
• squeeze lemon juice

1. Soak lentils to remove any foreign materials.
2. Melt the butter in a large saucepan on medium heat and saute onions until fragrant and translucent. Add fresh root ginger and saute for a few more minutes with onions.
3. Add stock, lentils, pumpkin, brown sugar, salt, pepper, cinnamon and nutmeg stirring well. Bring to a boil, and then reduce heat. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally until the lentils are soft.
4. Puree the soup with a food mill or liquidize in a blender.
5. Transfer the soup to a saucepan and slowly heat through. Stir in cream and taste to adjust seasoning.
6. To make the cinnamon croutons preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Blend the butter, cinnamon and brown sugar and spread over bread slices Bake for 5-7 minutes until crispy. Chop with a knife.
7. Prepare cream fraiche garnish by blending a little kosher salt with lemon juice.
8. Serve soup in warmed bowls with a dollop of cream fraiche and a small handful of croutons.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Jude in New York City!

Last week I had the incredible honor of representing Northern Ireland to the world (well, a slice of the world I suppose!) as I, and my small business 'The Ulster Kitchen' was part of an incredible showcase in New York City entitled 'Experience Northern Ireland'. For one week the Vanderbilt hall in Grand Central Station was transformed into a stunning exhibit illustrating just what a wonderful place Northern Ireland is for a vacation. The cream of Irish talent was there including dancers, singers, song writers, performers, celebrity chefs, actors, musicians of every stripe....and me!

Yes, little ol' me was there and I was demonstrating and exhibiting a wide range of wonderful products from Northern Ireland including Irish linens, teas, coffees, baked goods, music, food & drink and more...all of which is available on my website, I hasten to add!

It was a blast! Literally thousands of people came through and it was exhilarating to meet so many people, showcase what we have to offer and represent my home country. What a thrill! Many New Yorkers were of Irish descent, and all wanted to tell a story.

So, enjoy this little 'snapshot' video, and I'll see you next time with a 'knock out' recipe to celebrate Fall!

Until then, enjoy!

Judith, the Irish Foodie