Summer is here, and with it so are fiery days and still, soporific nights. There’s some romance to these sweltering evenings, but for the most part it is the start of months and months of scorching skin and that odd dizzy sensation that always accompanies temperatures north of forty degrees for me. By all accounts we’re in for a heatwave so I’m steeling myself for a whole summer of swooning.
As with every season, the way we eat must change when transitioning from cool to sweltering (to say just ‘hot’ is doing the Indian summer a disservice), and suddenly little bits, lots of grazing, and things that are crunchy and crispy start to appeal. Watermelon, cucumber, salad, and things like gazpacho. Gazpacho is actually a wonder, in that it is cold, satiates my savoury craving, and also ticks all those ‘hydration’ boxes with double water-whammy of both tomato and cucumber. Basically, perfect summer meals are cold, fresh, and not cooked by me.
But while I love a good, fresh, raw situation, my constitution and my digestion usually demand some sort of cooking, even of a gentler sort. I was never really a soup person because I largely associate it with the sweetcorn chicken or hot and sour soups of my childhood (of which I am fond, sort of, but not particularly keen to ever order) until fairly recently, when the lovely qualities of, for instance, a good tom kha or a fresh pea soup started to really, really appeal. While soup isn’t really the sort of thing you’d necessarily reach for at the start of the hot season, it is something to consider, as they’re light, filling, and nutritious alternatives to full meals at a time when, let’s be honest, your body’s every function is protesting being spit-roasted in the summer sun.
My veggie guy still has lovely pumpkin, and coupled with a few sweet potatoes, some bright carrots, and a spoonful of miso you have a bowlful of something salty and savoury that is ideal on a summer evening. The ingredients are really more associated with a winter warmer, but it is bright and flavoursome, and I don’t really care. This particular soup is probably heartier than you’d expect from a summer recipe, but taters will keep your blood sugar stable while the lovely probiotics in the miso will keep your gut happy.
To make the soup, drizzle pumpkin, sweet potato, and carrots with olive oil and Himalayan salt before popping in the oven for 20—25 minutes or until tender. Meanwhile dissolve a heaped spoonful of miso paste with two cups of water and set aside.
Heat ghee in a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat, add onion and cook until browned. Add ginger, garlic and a splash of apple cider vinegar and then cool for a few minutes. Add in the roast vegetables, dissolved miso and two more cups of water. Stir and allow to simmer (not boil) for 10-15 minutes.
Once done, take off the heat, allow to cool slightly and then purée until at the consistency you like. Top with anything you like: spring onions, shichimi powder, sunflower seeds, toasted pine nuts or sesame seeds, or crumbled feta. Ladle into bowls or mugs, and enjoy.