However much may I like my home city, St Petersburg is rather cold. No, it is still not Siberia, but very few plants can survive and bring fruits. To be completely honest, the only two products we succeeded to cultivate are potatoes and apples.
Now I live in London, and weather-wise it has been only a modest improvement. It is (again) rather cold, and the farming here is still challenging. What I find fascinating, though, is the comparison between vegetables popular here and in Russia. Many of the root crops became a part of the history, for example, nobody eats parsnips, swedes, turnips etc in contemporary Russia. All these vegetables can be easily found in British supermarkets and parsnip puree is quite common in the restaurants (I think though it was a better choice to neglect all these roots).
The only vegetable that became my personal discovery of a century is a pumpkin. Completely obsolete in Russia, the pumpkin is hugely popular in the US and the UK (sometimes I even wish there were less “pumpkin spice” everything). In my childhood, I saw only a gigantic pumpkin for carving. To be honest, we never carved it and after several months the squash spent under the bed, my grandmother made a kind of porridge out of it.
I did not suspect there is such a variety of squashes (recently I read there are 600 types!), and it is truly fascinating that from a single pumpkin one can make a three-course dinner. It is great in soups, salads, stews, pies and lattes. It is so diverse that you may find this visual guide to winter squash quite handy. This comfort pumpkin soup is made of kabocha.
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 shallot
- 500 g pumpkin
- 350 ml vegetable stock
- 75 ml milk soy or coconut
- 2 strings thyme
- 10 min
- 20 min
- Ready in:
- 30 min
- Pile, clean and cut pumpkin in chunks. Finely cut onions
- Heat olive oil, and fry the shallots till soft
- Add pumpkin, broth and thyme. Cover with a lid and cook on a low fire for 20-30 minutes, until pumpkin is soft. Add salt and pepper to taste
- Transfer soup to the blender and process until it is smooth. Add milk, process shortly and serve with bread croutons, pumpkin seeds or herbs of your taste