I love soups with substance, almost a cross between a soup and stew. You may be familiar with the Italian classic Ribollita which is thick, seasonal and nourishing. My version is not much different it is based on the same thick, seasonal soup but with what you have in your fridge/garden. Today i had pumpkin if you have butternut squash, carrots or kumara then use them. I had a leek, tin of chickpeas and cavolo nero if you have onions canneilini beans potatoes or silverbeet then use them. As long as you keep the flavours connected and balanced and the texture needs to be chunky, thick and as i mentioned a cross between a soup and stew well then the rest is up to you!
PUMPKIN, CHICKPEAS AND CAVOLO NERO SOUP
500g pumpkin, peeled, deseeded and cut into small cubes
1 leek, washed well, sliced thinly
1 onion, sliced thinly
1 sprig fresh rosemary, sage or thyme leaves, roughly chopped
1 tin chickpeas, washed well and drained
250g cavolo nero, stalks removed, leaves roughly chopped
1 Tbsp honey
1 tsp Thai fish sauce (optional)
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
extra virgin olive oil for serving
salt and freshly cracked black pepper
freshly grated pecorino or parmesan cheese (optional but highly recommended)
In a large pot heat the oil gently add the leek, onion, rosemary and smoked paprika and cook without colouring for 5 minutes. Add half the diced pumpkin and cook for a further 5 minutes, add the chickpeas stir to combine. Just cover with cold water or veg stock and cook gently for 20 minutes.
When you notice the pumpkin and chickpeas softening add the remaining pumpkin and season well with salt and pepper. Continue to cook for further 10 minutes, add the cavolo nero and continue cooking until it wilts and the soup starts to slightly thicken. At this stage i give it a rough mash with a potato masher, i am however only trying to break up a little of the soup. Taste the soup and add the fish sauce, honey, taste again and adjust the seasoning if needed.
Serve in large warm bowls, drizzle over a little extra virgin olive oil and a grating of fresh cheese if desired.
Don't forget to improvise with your own combinations. This type of soup is based on "rustic peasant type". You can't go wrong if you keep it simple and seasonal.