PUMPKIN, RICE, AND CHICKEN SOUP

This is a warm, comforting soup which, despite the spice and basmati rice, is quintessentially English. For and even more substantial meal, add a little more rice and make sure you use all the chicken from the stock.

SERVES FOUR
INGREDIENTS
  • 1 wedge of pumpkin, about 450 g / 1 lb
  • 15 ml / 1 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 25 g / 1 oz / 2 tbsp butter
  • 6 green cardamom pods
  • 2 leeks, chopped
  • 115 g / 4 oz / generous ½ cup basmati rice, soaked
  • 350 ml / 12 fl oz / 1½ cups milk
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • generous strips of pared orange rind, to garnish
  • For the chicken stock
  • 2 chicken quarters
  • 1 onion, quartered
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped
  • 6-8 peppercorns
  • 900 ml / 1½ pints / 3¾ cups water
  1. First make the chicken stock. Place the chicken quarters, onion, carrots, celery, and peppercorns in a large, heavy pan. Pour in the water and bring to the boil over a low heat. Skim off any scum on the surface if necessary, then lower the heat, cover and simmer gently for 1 hour.
  2. Strain the chicken stock into a clean, large bowl, discarding the vegetables. Skin and bone one or both chicken pieces and cut the flesh into strips. (If not using both chicken pieces for the soup, reserve the other piece for another recipe.)
  3. Peel the pumpkin and remove all the seeds and pith, so that you have about 350 g / 12 oz flesh. Cut the flesh into 2.5 cm / 1 in cubes.
  4. Heat the oil and butter in a pan, add the cardamom pods and cook for about 2-3 minutes, until slightly swollen. Add the leeks and pumpkin. Cook, stirring, for 3-4 minutes over a medium heat, cover and sweat for 5 more minutes, or until the pumpkin is quite soft, stirring once or twice.
  5. Measure out 600 ml / 1 pint / 2½ cups of the stock and add to the pumpkin mixture. Bring to the boil, then lower the heat, cover and simmer gently for 10-15 minutes, until the pumpkin is soft.
  6. Pour the remaining stock into a measuring jug (cup) and make up with water to 300 ml / ½ pint / 1 ¼ cups. Drain the rice and put it into a pan. Pour in the stock, bring to the boil, then simmer for about 10 minutes, until the rice is tender. Add seasoning to taste.
  7. Remove and discard the cardamom pods, then process the soup in a blender or food processor until smooth. Pour it back into a clean saucepan and stir in the milk, chicken, and rice (with any stock that has not been absorbed). Heat until simmering. Ladle into warm bowls, garnish with the strips of pared orange rind and freshly ground black pepper and serve immediately with wholemeal (whole-wheat) bread.
Pumpkin, Rice, And Chicken Soup