Thursday, September 19, 2013

Shared Lunch #4 for Oxfam

I've highlighted before the great global food gap that our world experiences across its many cultures, let alone in individual societies themselves.  In the same post, I committed myself to participating in the Live Below the Line challenge and, alas, next week I will finally be taking on the challenge.

To help fundraise and raise awareness, I dedicated all intake from Shared Lunch #4 to my chosen charity for the challenge: Oxfam.  I believe strongly in Oxfam and their approach to giving aid as they believe in empowerment and providing opportunities instead of short-term solutions alone - "helping people to help themselves".

Therefore, my Shared Lunch for charity seemed to me that it should be a simple meal with perhaps only the smallest flourish, and to cost less than $2.25 per head, despite being a slightly distorted parallel to the challenge itself (which is $2.25 for one day's worth of meals).  Nevertheless, I chose to make a soup with a couple of small extras.

Shared lunch #4: Roast pumpkin soup with herb oil and bread with Whitestone smoked butter.
I've been meaning to try Al Brown's new range of butter, in particularly the smoked flavour, and this meal presented the perfect opportunity to provide a sense of luxury to a simple dish.

Roast pumpkin soup with herb oil and bread with Whitestone smoked butter

Roast pumpkin soup with herb oil serves 8

1/2 large crown pumpkin
1/2 buttercup pumpkin, both peeled and chopped roughly for roasting
1 large onion, diced
600mL homemade chicken stock
600mL water

Roast pumpkin until soft (for 4cm-ish pieces about 30 mins in a 190deg oven should do). Remove from oven and cool slightly.
In a large heavy-based pot, heat a swig of oil (e.g. grapeseed) on medium and add onion.  Stir frequently, turning the heat to low and cook for 20 minutes or so until really soft and almost starting to caramelise.  Add pumpkin, stock and water and bring up to the boil.  Once boiling, return back to simmer on low for 10-15 minutes to allow flavours to cook into each other.  At this point, I used a stick blender to purée the soup into a silky, smooth consistency but replacing soup into a blender in batches is also a fine way to do it too.

Herb oil

Handful of fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/4c walnut oil (or other good quality fragrant oil used for dressings, e.g. avocado or extra virgin olive)
1 small green onion or 1/2 a big one, sliced thinly

Place all ingredients into small food processor and pulse into parsley is chopped roughly into smaller pieces.  Add pinch of flaky sea salt to taste.  Alternatively, without a food processor, chop parsley finely and mix with other ingredients (including salt).  The main thing is to let it steep to allow flavours to infuse (I left mine overnight sitting at room temperature).

Serve pumpkin soup hot with a teaspoon of herb oil drizzled on top, and fresh bread with Whitestone smoked butter on the side ready to be slathered on.

The overall cost came to about $1.46 per person due to using a few luxury ingredients (smoked butter, walnut oil and a fresh Brezelmania German baguette for the bread). This could easily get pared back, however, and I intend to do so next week for the challenge.  Instead of a store-bought baguette, I'll make some flatbread and I'll omit the herb oil entirely and replace with a sprinkling of chilli flakes for some high impact flavour.  Of course, more water and I should be able to stretch it out for a couple of lunches and perhaps a faux risotto with the addition of rice.  

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