Lamb and pumpkin soup

by Sandra

I know, I know, long time no blog. I’ve been busy, but nicely I’ve also been busy in the kitchen, throwing food around and creating new things. I love that so much cooking comes from a necessity to get rid of leftover food. Toss together some odds and ends, and poof—magic.

Today, it was a package of ground lamb that I bought at the Santa Monica co-op months ago, and had it sitting in the freezer since then. I wanted to put it to good use, but every ground lamb recipe I found online was for köfte (not a bad thing) or lamb patties, but I wanted a soup or stew—something rich and warm and fall-like.

In light of not being able to find any apt recipes online, I decided to go my own way, and this is what I came up with. As always, feel free to substitute ingredients or take offensive ones out completely. The nice thing about cooking (as opposed to baking let’s say) is that you never have to be that exact. Instinct plays a large part in the process.

Without further ado:

2 tbs. butter (or margarine or olive oil)
1 large onion, diced
4 carrots, washed peeled and diced
5 – 6 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups beef, chicken or vegetable broth
1 can garbanzo beans, with juice reserved
6 oz. pumpkin (half a 12 oz. can)
1/2 c. heavy cream (feel free to leave this out)
2 tbs. olive oil
1 lb ground lamb (or there abouts)
1 tsp. red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground pepper
1/8 tsp. allspice

To prep the lamb, add a bit of the onion and the garlic (just a pinch of each), red pepper flakes, paprika, salt, pepper and allspice. Mash together until combined (I used my hands—best way to get in there), and set aside.

Heat the butter in a large pot (mine is cast iron). Add the onion and cook until soft and a little translucent.
Add the carrots and garlic, let cook for a few minute.
Add the broth and stir, let simmer until the carrots are just barely tender and you can stick a fork through.
Add the garbanzo beans but not the juice yet, continue to let simmer.
Stir in the pumpkin. At this point the soup will be very thick, so add the garbanzo bean juice and stir.
Cover and let cook while you brown the lamb.
To brown the lamb, heat olive oil in a large skillet and add the meat, breaking it up a bit with a wooden spoon. Cook, covered, until the meat is nicely browned.
When the lamb is cooked, add the heavy cream (again optional) and lamb to the soup, making sure you get all the lamb’s juices in there, too.
Stir is all together and simmer until you’re ready to serve.

This would go well over a bed of couscous or bulgar, or with a nice hunk of artisan bread (none of which I had, of course). I accompanied mine with a big plate of butter lettuce, with a light buttermilk dressing on top.