Right, where were we? November! That is right. As I look out of my window it is sunny with a sharp blue sky, a light wind is teasing the leaves, bot h golden brown and stubbornly green. Regardless of how unseasonally nice it is, November is still all about fires (if you are lucky enough to have one, I don’t, but I have my Big Green Egg), cheese toasties (so many variations) and soups, stews and rich ragus with supple slicks of fresh pasta. I always love a pop of fire within too in the form of sparks of chilli or a smear of chilli oil. I can’t bear anything flat, I need some brightness.
I tend to turn to Italian soups right now, specifically minestre, a chunky soup with vegetables, pasta or rice, and beans often. You will have heard of minestrone (a version of, which must have a thickening vegetable in it), and one of my favourites, pasta e fagiole. I turn often to pasta e patate too (pasta with potatoes, stay with me, it is awesome) and a version that I like to make with pumpkin. The basis of these are a good stock and a good pasta. I like to go off piste and Irish-ise it with a lick of cream too. Off piste can be a happy place, I like to go there.
I have a gorgeous pumpkin in my garden, still growing. It is of the giant pumpkin family but it isn’t giant because to grow large it wants a lot of chicken manure (or similar!) that I don’t have ready access to. But it is gorgeous and I can’t wait to eat it. Before I do, I have an onion squash that requires my attention. What pasta shape to use? Whatever you have. I like a small firm plump pasta like ditalini, but broken spaghetti (in small bits) works very well too.
This soup is really more of a pasta with broth. Feel free to add more if you want to be a bit more soup-y. It will always be good.
- 40g smoked streaky bacon or pancetta (approx 2 slices)
- 1 small onion (approx 50g), peeled and halved then finely sliced
- 150g diced peeled pumpkin or squash
- 75g dried pasta (I used ditalini)
- 1 mild chilli, finely chopped (seeds optional depending on how hot you want it)
- 2 handfuls of kale (stripped from the coarse stems)
- 350 ml chicken stock (or veg)
- 50ml single (heavy) cream
- oil for frying (I used extra virgin olive oil)
Use a saucepan for this, enough to accommodate a couple of bowls of soup.