Friday, January 11, 2008

11.01.08: Split Pea & Pumpkin

Today, I was joined by Sebastian, a new face in the Soup Kitchen, who I hope will become a regular, even though he insists he needs to get a paid job. I picked this recipe for yellow split peas and pumpkin out of Debra Mayhew's Soup Bible and purchased a bag of dried yellow split peas and a couple of nice looking chunks of pumpkin from an Afro-Carib grocery in the Heffalump shopping centre yesterday evening and soaked the split peas overnight.

This morning the weather was diabolical again but that didn't stop me dragging Sebastian down Walworth Road in the sleet and bluster to show him round the shops. In East Street, I bought a head of celery and half a kilo of carrots (onions I had), plus a couple of extra bits of pumpkin to make the total weight up to 3kg and a bunch of coriander.

Back at base, I put the split peas on to boil for twenty minutes while Sebastian cleaned, peeled and diced the pumpkin into small, bite-sized chunks. He also had a good go at roasting the pumpkin seeds, which I've never managed to do successfully. The trick, apparently, is to clean and then dry them them thoroughly before spreading them onto a roasting tray with some good quality oil and roasting slowly, turning the seeds in the pan often so that they cook evenly and adding salt, or paprika, or whatever flavouring you desire. S'nice.

Although the Soup Bible doesn't call for the full mirepoix, I made one anyway and seasoned it with two dessert spoons each of freshly ground dana (coriander seed) and jeera (ground cumin). The recipe calls for tarragon and chilli, but I didn't have any tarragon and I chose to do without chilli (although, on reflection, a couple of fresh green chillis would have been nice) and, instead, to emphasise the great flavour of coriander, both ground and fresh.

Those who tasted the soup enjoyed it, at least there were no complaints, but there weren't many of 'em and nobody wrote in the log bok. After a week in which we've consistently served 23 people every lunchtime, today there were only 17. Go figure.

I neglected to take any photographs, but in the evening, the soupers enjoyed an exeat to Dex, in Brixton, where our good neighbour and regular soup lover, Mr Natty Bo, led his Topcats once more through their rhythmic paces. So here's a couple of pics of that:

Next week's soup kitchen rota: it's Russell on Monday, serving a soup of Cauliflower, Flageolet and Fennel Seed; Lou. is on Tue, probably re-rocking the Turkish red lentil soup from day ten; on Wednesday, Russell & Sebastian plan to forage in Nine Elms for a freegan soup; Carlo will be smiling throughout Thursday and going into the evening with Pasta Night; and on Friday, a crew from Stockwell's legendary but sadly fire-damaged Café Cairo will make soup at lunchtime and go on into the evening, weaving magic carpets. See you there.

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