Oranges, pumpkin and pistachios, in terms of colour alone, they make a delicious combination. A little chilli and ginger provide spice and, especially in winter, a nicely warm stomach. This – like this pumpkin soup itself – has long since spread beyond Sicily.
The fruits of winter
Citrus fruits are as much a part of southern Italy as the sun and the sea. The most beautiful legends have their roots around oranges. One was told to me by the grandmother of a friend in her wonderful garden: when God created the world, he put the orange tree in the sunniest spot. Spring came and all the fruit trees except the orange tree blossomed. Summer came and all the fruit trees except the orange tree bore fruit. When winter came, all the trees lost their leaves except the orange tree. But without fresh fruit, people would starve. So they prayed to God. And soon the orange tree bore fragrant, star-shaped flowers and orange-bright fruits that would ripen even in the winter sun.
Orange blossoms for the bride
Orange is indeed a very special fruit, because the tree flowers and bears fruit at the same time. Even in the Far East, where the plants likely originated, orange blossoms stood for purity, innocence and fertility. Crusaders and travelling merchants first brought bitter oranges to Italy and Central Europe almost 1,000 years ago. The custom of weaving orange blossoms into bridal wreaths and bouquets was widespread until the 19th century. In Italy, the blossoms are still a symbol of love and happiness.
Pumpkin soup with orange juice and pistachios
- 1 onion
- extra virgin olive oil
- fresh ginger
- chilli pepper
- 600 g pumpkin, with yellow flesh
- 400 g sweet potatoes
- 200 g carrots
- 1 l vegetable stock , or hot water
- 200 ml whipped cream
- 200 ml orange juice
- 1 tbsp pistachios, chopped, per person
- 1 tsp parsley
- 6 tbsp Parmesan, grated
- Wash, peel and cut the vegetables into pieces. Grate the ginger, chop the chilli, removing the seeds. Chop the onion and sauté in a little oil.
- When the onion is clear, add the ginger and chilli, if desired. Fry briefly, then add the chopped vegetables and stir fry for only a short time. If you like, you can add some ground rosemary. Pour in the vegetable stock and simmer for 20-30 minutes. Stir occasionally.
- When the vegetables are soft, purée the soup with a blender. Remove from the heat and enhance with the cream (liquid not whipped) and fresh orange juice. If necessary, add broth to achieve the desired consistency.
- Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve with plenty of Parmesan cheese, fresh parsley and finely chopped pistachios.
Vegan version: use 200 ml coconut milk instead of cream