My love affair with Roasted Pumpkin Soup began in 2010; when I had it twice in quick succession in Florence, Italy and then at the Eberbach Abbey in Germany.
But I get ahead of myself….
I have known Jyoti since 1996 or 1997. I was conducting one of the earliest ever Technical Writing seminar held in India, sponsored by the then Blue Sky Software Inc to publicize their Help Authoring tool RoboHelp. Among the many participants in that seminar was Jyoti, who had flown in all the way from Chennai to Mumbai.
We clicked instantly (I think because she asked some incisive questions and had a very practical approach to what was then a very nascent profession) and have kept in touch ever since. Over the years, we met regularly at various conferences and kept in touch via mail. We have several interests in common; Information Architecture, Carnatic Music, and Indian Culture to name a few. One of the other things we have in common is a love of travel and this was what took us to Italy in 2010.
I still remember how the trip “happened.” Jyo had written to me about some work thing and in reply I had mentioned that in a month or so I would be away in Italy and Germany for a week to meet a client and then to speak at a conference. Jyo wrote back to say that she wished she could come too. In jest, I wrote back saying if she did we could make a vacation of it. Lo and behold, she said why not? She had some vacation time coming up. And that was that.
In a week or so, we had planned a vacation that covered Rome, Tuscany, Cinque Terre, and Venice.
And what a lovely travel companion Jyo turned out to be! We walked absolutely everywhere with short train trips in between. Of course, we did the usual touristy things but then because we were on foot we explored assorted nooks and crannies of the places we visited. One thing both of us discovered on this trip was another dimension to art.
Of course, Italy has some of the most wonderful museums in the world…. But more importantly, Italy embodies art. Everywhere you look you see statues, fountains, buildings, and other works of art of astonishing beauty.
One of the most enchanting things of Italy were all the lovely cathedrals and churches.
We had a very memorable trip to the Vatican. We got there at about 7:30 AM, and it was so quiet and serene. Just a couple of later, it was the Tower of Babel!
Among the other memorable trips was one to Basilica of Santa Croce, Florence. We spent quite a while exploring the monastery, and then in its leather workshop; almost the entire morning!
As I mentioned, we were traipsing about on foot and by lunch, were quite famished. It did not help that Italians take lunch very seriously and we could see tables laid out invitingly in the sun. Both Jyo and me are vegetarians so the primary concern was to find a place that serves vegetarian food. Just to the left of the Basilica is a small lane that has a cozy restaurant whose owners promised us some veggie delights; among them Pumpkin Soup and Vegetarian Lasagna.
The Lasagna was very good, but we were floored by the Pumpkin Soup. It had been drizzling the whole day and was quite chilly. So the hearty, spicy, thick Pumpkin Soup with crisp rolls and butter on the side was very welcome. It warmed us to the very cockles of our tired, frozen hearts, and infused a new spring in the step. 🙂
With a belly full of warm soup, we then set off to the Duomo and what an experience that was! Including an interesting sojourn to the local Ben & Jerry’s. But that is a story for another post! At the end of the Italy trip, Jyo flew back to India from Venice, while I went on to Wiesbaden, Germany to speak at a conference.
The day I landed at Wiesbaden, I had nothing much on my agenda when the phone in my room rang. I was very mystified as to who would call me, when I heard the familiar voice of GBS, the head of the Indian delegation to the conference. Apparently, we were assigned a local host who was driving him up to the Kloster Eberbach or Eberbach Abbey and he wanted to invite me along. It was quite nice of him to remember me. And what followed was a very memorable morning spent at a lovely Abbey. Our host was quite the historian, and gave us quite an informative and entertaining account of the place.
The movie The Name of the Rose was shot in part at the Kloster Eberbach.
All the rambling made us quite hungry and we settled in for a lunch at the abbey’s restaurant. The restaurant had quite a generous vegetarian menu (good for us, as all three of us were vegetarians) and much to my delight, I spotted Roasted Pumpkin Soup on the menu. Needless to say, that was what I ordered and this time it was served with a side of fresh green salad with a honey-vinegar dressing! Absolutely yumm….
The first thing I did on coming back from the trip was to look up a recipe for a Roasted Pumpkin Soup. Over time, I have managed to create a Pumpkin Soup I like and here is the recipe for it. It just hit the right spot this past week, when it has been drizzling incessantly!
How to Make Roasted Pumpkin Soup
- Pumpkin – 400 gms
- Carrot – 1 small
- Potato – 1 small
- Onion – 1 small
- Garlic Cloves – 4
- Milk – 1/4 Cup
- Olive Oil – 1 tbsp
- Ground Pepper – 1/4 tsp
- Roasted Pumpkin Seeds – 2 tbsp (optional)
- Cayenne Pepper or Chilli Powder – A Large Pinch (optional)
- Salt to Taste
Method to Make the Roasted Pumpkin Soup
- Boil the potato.
- Peel the potato, cut into small pieces and set aside.
- Peel, deseed, and cut the pumpkin into 1″ cubes.
- Peel and cut the carrots into 1″ pieces.
- Peel and slice the onions.
- Peel the garlic.
- Line a baking tray with foil.
- Place the pumpkin, carrot, onion, and garlic pods on the baking tray.
- Drizzle olive oil and sprinkle the pepper powder.
- Mix well so that the vegetable pieces and garlic are coated with oil and pepper.
- Toast at 150° C for about 20 minutes or till the veggies just start to brown.
- Take the toasted vegetables out of the oven and let cool.
- Puree the toasted vegetables along with the potato pieces and about 3/4 cup water. It should be quite thick.
- Using a heavy-bottomed vessel, bring the pumpkin soup to a boil.
- Turn off the heat and stir in the milk.
- Serve the Roasted Pumpkin Soup hot after garnishing with roasted pumpkin seeds and a punch of cayenne pepper or chilli powder.