Roasted Pumpkin, Chickpea & Silverbeet Soup

Roasted Pumpkin, Chickpea & Silverbeet Soup
Soup is the perfect dinner for a cold wet raining winter’s night – it warms from the head to the toes and when served with fresh crusty rolls or scones, it is very filling.  This soup (which doesn’t have any apples in it) is a recipe I created for our local newspaper making use of fresh seasonal produce.
Cardinal Silverbeet (Swiss Chard)
I have used Silverbeet in my soup as it is a vegetable we always have in the garden.  It is very easy to grow.  Silverbeet has several names – it is also called Swiss chard, chard and according to vegetables.co.nz; seakale beet (that’s something new I have learned this morning).  We have several varieties growing: Ford Hook Giant, Argentata and Cardinal.  Argentata is an old Italian Heirloom silverbeet/Swiss chard which we have grown from seed (we get most of our vegetable seeds from Kings Seeds NZ).  Ford Hook Giant seems to be the standard silverbeet grown in New Zealand – some grow it simply to feed their chickens but we eat ours, the chickens only get the older, less appealing leaves). Cardinal is the prettiest with crimson red stalks.  We have in the past grown Perpetual Spinach which also works very well as a substitute for Silverbeet in this recipe.  It is also of the beet family (Beta vulgaris) and is easier to clean than Silverbeet as the leaves are much smoother (leaving less hidey-holes for sneaky little slugs and snails).
Self-sown Pumpkin
Pumpkin is also something that is available and very affordable in Winter.  Here in New Zealand what we call Pumpkin falls into the Winter Squash family. We have a large grey pumpkin very similar to the crown pumpkin as well as a smaller green-skinned pumpkin/squash – often sold as supermarket squash, and similar to a buttercup pumpkin. The other pumpkin/squash readily available is the Butternut.  I have used a grey pumpkin for this soup.  If using a buttercup or supermarket squash, increase the stock as the soup will be much thicker.
Self-sown Pumpkin
Roasted Pumpkin, Chickpea & Silverbeet Soup

Roasted Pumpkin, Chickpea & Silverbeet Soup

8 cups peeled & diced pumpkin (approximately 1/2 a medium-sized crown/grey pumpkin)
2 red onions, peeled, halved and cut into wedges
1/4 cup garlic infused olive oil *
2 teaspoon Cape Malay seasoning mix **
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1 litre vegetable stock
2 bunches of silverbeet or spinach
400 g tin chickpeas, drained & rinsed
250 ml milk

Preheat oven to 200ºC.
Place pumpkin and onion into a large baking dish (so that it is in a single layer).
Pour over oil, sprinkle with seasoning mix, pepper & salt.
Toss the vegetables so they are well coated.
Roast, stirring every ten minutes, until the vegetables are soft and slightly caramelised (about 40-50 minutes).
Place vegetable stock into a large saucepan and bring to the boil.
Add the roasted vegetables and mash the pumpkin up a little (you can purée the soup with a stick blender if a smoother soup is preferred).
Wash the silverbeet or spinach and remove the stalks.  Slice the leaves – you should have approximately 4-5 cups sliced greens).
Add the greens, chickpeas & milk to the soup.
Stir over a gentle heat until the soup is piping hot.
Serve with cheesy scones or fresh crusty rolls.
Serves 6.

* garlic infused olive oil is an olive oil I keep on hand as it lends a lovely garlic flavour to the dish.  If you don’t have any, simply use regular olive oil and include several garlic cloves when roasting the pumpkin & red onion.  Of course, if you love garlic, you can do this as well as using the garlic infused olive oil.  Infused olive oil is quite easily made – I make both regular garlic infused olive oil and smoked garlic infused olive oil.

* * Cape Malay seasoning mix is a little round tin box of delicious spices & herbs sold by our local delicatessen.   It is a South African spice blend that includes cloves, coriander, cumin, mustard, fennel, fenugreek, pepper, cardamom, turmeric, ginger, curry leaves & chilli. If you are unable to source this particular mix, swap it with a similar spice blend or make your own spice blend: French Tart of Food.com has done the hard work and this is her version: Bo-Kaap Cape Malay Curry Powder

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