Our beautiful winter warmer featured recipe is courtesy of Emiko Davies. An avid Iyengar and Bikram yoga practitioner at various times in her life, Emiko is now based in Canberra after spending more than two-thirds of her life living abroad in China, the US and most recently Tuscany, where she spent seven years in Florence. The food writer, photographer and illustrator now juggles being mamma to an active toddler and when not writing for various publications such as The Canberra Times and Wine Companion magazine, Emiko can be found working on her blog where she indulges her thing for good, wholesome, old fashioned cooking and regional Italian cuisine: www.emikodavies.com.
Pumpkin and Tuscan kale soup
Soup is the warming, comfort meal I turn to most in the winter. It makes good use of hardy winter vegetables, so suitable for slow cooking, where they become sweet, tender and flavourful. This is a very simple vegetarian soup but one that is satisfying and nutrition-packed. Seek out proper Japanese pumpkin, which has a very deep, bright orange and naturally sweet flesh (that will become very soft and falling apart when cooked) with a dark green skin. Tuscan kale, or cavolo nero, with its bumpy, cypress-green leaves, is wonderfully forgiving in soups as it needs to be cooked for a long time to become tender. You can substitute silverbeet if you don’t have Tuscan kale but add it when the pumpkin is halfway through cooking. You could also serve this with some grated Parmesan or Pecorino cheese if desired.
½ whole Japanese pumpkin
1 small bunch Tuscan kale
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1 small brown onion, finely chopped
½ celery stick, finely chopped
½ carrot, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper
Chop the pumpkin into large chunks, removing and discarding the skin and seeds. Remove the central vein from the kale and then chop the leaves finely. Set aside.
Over low heat, gently saute the onion, carrot, celery and garlic in the olive oil for about 5 minutes or until the vegetables are soft and translucent. Add the bay leaf and season with salt and pepper.
Add the pumpkin and kale and enough water to cover the vegetables. Bring to the boil over medium heat, covered, then lower the heat to simmer until the pumpkin is soft and the kale is tender, about 20 minutes. With the back of a wooden spoon or, if needed, a potato masher, gently break up the pumpkin until it is creamy or slightly chunky, as you prefer.
Serve drizzled with some extra virgin olive oil and extra pepper.