Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Not just pumpkin soup!

I'm back in Hong Kong after spending our Christmas break 'home' in Australia, and we are having some cool days right now, yes Hong Kong does get cold! So homemade soup is back on the menu! I've been making this pumpkin soup for as long as I can remember and before I was making it my mum was! This is an adaptation of mum's recipe and it's always a favourite when I serve it up for friends and family, so I thought I'd better thermi-fy it and blog it :)

I call this one 'not just pumpkin' because it's not your typical pumpkin soup. I toss in some extras along with the usual suspects plus a bit of spice . . . coriander and cumin which go so well with pumpkin, and it makes for a very flavoursome twist on the common favourite which is thick and very wholesome. I hope you like it!

As I have discussed before on this blog, soup-making is a joy when you own a Thermomix . . . . so easy and fun! It is so simple to adapt your favourite soup recipes. There are some great tips in the Everyday Cookbook for those of you who may be new to soup-making Thermomix style. So there's no excuse not to convert your favourite soup recipe :)

1 large brown onion, halved
3 cloves garlic, peeled
20g olive or coconut oil
½ butternut pumpkin (about 500g), peeled & cut into large chunks
1 med-large sweet potato (about 300g), peeled & cut into large chunks
1 large carrot, cut into chunks
½ large or 1 sml zucchini, cut into chunks
1 stick celery, cut into chunks
3 tsp ground coriander
3 tsp ground cumin
2 tbsp TM vege stock concentrate
approx 500g filtered water
200g full-cream organic milk (or plant-based alternative)
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
handful fresh coriander leaves (optional)
a little natural yoghurt


  1. Place garlic and onion into TM bowl and chop for 5 seconds on speed 6. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with the spatula.
  2. Add olive oil and sauté for 3 minutes at 100°C on speed 1.
  3. Add pumpkin, sweet potato, carrot, zucchini, celery (the bowl will be almost full) and chop for 10-15 seconds on speed 5. Use the spatula to assist if necessary so that the vegetables are chopped fairly evenly.
  4. Add the spices and TM vegetable stock concentrate and filtered water (do not fill above the 2L mark on the bowl). Cook for 25-30 minutes at 100°C on speed 1 or until vegetables are tender. You'll need to place the basket on the lid to prevent a mess :)
  5. Add a handful of fresh coriander leaves and season with freshly ground black pepper. Puree by gradually turning the dial to speed 7 and blending for about 15 seconds (with the MC cup in). 
  6. For a creamy pumpkin soup, add 100-200g of milk and heat for a few minutes further at 100°C on speed 1 or simply blend on speed 3 and serve. 
  7. Ladle into bowls to serve and garnish with a dollop of natural yoghurt and a sprig of fresh coriander. Enjoy!

nutrition tid bits
The pumpkin, sweet potato and carrot in this soup are very good source of carotenoids which are a group of brightly coloured pigments responsible for the orange colour of these vegetables, but also the red and yellow colours of others, including some fruits. Beta-carotene is a well-known pigment from this group which is converted to vitamin A in the body. Carotenoids are potent antioxidants, which when eaten in their whole food form protect against cancer and other degenerative diseases. 

For the most part, vegetables rich in carotenoids are best eaten raw or lightly steamed or sautéed to preserve their carotenoid content. That's why you should only cook your soup vegetables until 'just tender'. Tomatoes are an exception to this rule as their carotene content is intensified as a result of cooking. So your Thermomix tomato ketchup, tomato paste, pizza sauce and any other cooked dishes which contain tomatoes are a great source of the carotenoid lycopene. Other fruits and vegetables high in carotenoids include butternut squash, apricots, mangoes, oranges, papaya, watermelon and the less obvious leafy greens including spinach and kale.

Did you know that carotenoids are fat-soluble and should therefore be consumed with healthy fats to be absorbed by the digestive system? So don't attempt to make this soup fat-free and do make your own oil-based salad dressings from healthy oils like olive, avocado and macadamia nut oil, or add fresh avocado and a sprinkle of nuts and/or seeds to your summer salads to ensure that you are not missing out the health benefits of carotenoid-rich foods. 

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Instant, dairy-free, raw cacao mousse with chia!

I just had to share this quick one! An instant and nutritious, rich chocolate dessert fix . .  . if you're thinking of reaching for some chocolate you must make this instead! So easy and soooo great!! I get to enjoy this dessert all to myself tonight . . .I promise I won't eat the whole lot :) . . but I'm sure it will be a hit with my girls too. The ground chia goes to work to provide instant thickening power for this recipe, owing to the gelation properties of the soluble fibre contained within the seeds which is released immediately on grinding. 

4 tbsp (50g) chia seeds
1 can organic coconut milk (choose one which is additive free & avoid low-fat)
5-6 fresh dates, pitted
3 tbsp raw cacao powder
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
2 drops liquid stevia (or to taste)
4 ice cubes 

1. Add chia seeds to the TM bowl and grind on speed 9 for 20 seconds into a fine powder.

2. Add remaining ingredients and blend on speed 9 for 30 seconds or until smooth, with the MC lid in place. Serve immediately or refrigerate for later. . . and there you have it! Guilt-free, rich, chocolate-y deliciousness! 

Serves 2-4 depending on your appetite :)

This chocolate dessert will even keep for 2-3 days in an airtight container in the fridge. It retains it's mousse-like texture very nicely :) 

variation ideas
  • add a few drops of orange or peppermint essential oil for a choc-orange or choc-mint flavour
  • grind some hazelnuts with the chia for a 'Baci' inspired flavour
  • add 1 tbsp of a superfood powder blend for an antioxidant boost
  • if you have a sweet tooth add a couple more dates or another drop of liquid stevia :)
  • don't try flaxseeds in place of chia for this recipe, they have a stronger taste

nutrition tid bits
There's nothing better than the feeling you get from satisfying that chocolate craving, whilst fueling your body with a nutrient dense treat! This dessert is packed full of nutrition from chia and raw cacao in particular, which combined provide you with a high-quality dose of omega-3 fats, iron, zinc, calcium, potassium, magnesium, protein and a range of beneficial phytochemicals and antioxidants. 

You'll also notice how just one small bowl of this dessert fills you up very nicely :) This is the fibre in chia working to absorb liquid and gel up, not only in your bowl of chocolate goodness, but also in your stomach. Of course, the fibre in chia also helps with your digestion and even slows the conversion of carbohydrates to glucose, reducing blood sugar spikes. All in all, there are many reasons to treat yourself with this dessert every night :) Why not? I say. 

no thermomix?
If you don't own a Thermomix, you'll need a coffee grinder to grind up the chia seeds and a good blender to do the rest :)

source: unfortunately I can't take full credit for this amazing recipe . . . Erin from Earth Energy Yoga is the miracle worker. I have simply made a couple of tweaks and adapted it for the Thermomix. Thank you Erin! Thank you also to the lovely Thermo Bel for sharing this recipe with us on her Facebook page.