So, I did a thing and decided to pack my bags and move to Italy. It’s something I have wanted to do for a long time but never had the courage to take the plunge. But having had a bit of difficult year and thought that the time was right to see out my twenties in the motherland. And so, on the 15th September 2019, I waved good-bye to London and Ciao to North-East Italy – my home for the next 9 months or so. I am living with Mum in a town called Zanè which is at the foot of the Dolomites between Venice and Verona. I have spent the best part of my holidays over the past 15 years in this region, and although my origins aren’t rooted here, I have family members and friends in the area so I feel right at home.
I also lived in Padova for 6 months during the second half of my Erasmus in 2012, which were some of the best months of my life living with some incredible ladies who I am still friends with today. It was then that I said that I would love to come back and live here again for a period of time.
The plan for the coming months is to throw myself full-time into food blogging and photography, and I have undertaken a course with Foodtography School to learn more about the skills required for photographing delicious dishes and the art of getting more out of your blog through social media etc. The ultimate goal right now is a little blurred, but I know I love to cook and I have a passion for it. So, if I can use that passion and create a business one way or another that would be amazing! Until then, I am going to keep learning, practising and sharing my journey with you all. It is going to be amazing to look back in 12 months and see the progress made!
For the last three weeks, I have been getting myself settled in my new routine, scoping out all the local supermarkets, planning the weeks and months ahead and I made sure I joined the local gym, because these Italian carbs aren’t going to go anywhere otherwise. To add to my new venture, my 90-year old Nonna has also come over to live with us for the next 3 months, so I hope to get her involved in the cooking and learn a thing or two from her in the process.
For the first recipe I am sharing with you guys from Italy, is one fit for October and the changing season – a creamy Roasted Pumpkin Soup! This soup takes a little longer than others, but that extra TLC brings out a flavour that is out of this world! The combination of the pumpkin, spices and roasted garlic and with the topping of the roasted pumpkin seeds will make this one to make over and over!
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 40 minutes
1.5kg Pumpkin, chopped into large chunks
1 White Onion, halved
2 Garlic Cloves, slightly crushed
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 Tbsp Paprika
1 Tbsp Cumin Seeds
400ml Vegetable Stock
150ml Cooking Cream, optional
Preheat the oven to 190°C/170°C Fan and place the pumpkin chunks, onion and garlic on a lined baking sheet.
Drizzle the olive oil, paprika, cumin seeds, salt and pepper and toss until evenly coated.
Place in the oven for around 1 hour, turning occasionally. Once the pumpkin is fork-soft and roasted slightly around the edges, carefully cut off the pumpkin skin and then throw everything into a blender and pulse until almost smooth.
Slowly add the vegetable stock whilst pulsing until smooth. At this stage check the seasoning and pulse slightly to combine. At this stage you can serve as it is, but I like to make it more creamy by adding cooking cream at the end, but feel free to omit if you want to keep it lighter.
Pour into a saucepan and heat through, serve with the roasted pumpkin seeds (recipe below) and croutons.
Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
1 Cup Pumpkin Seeds
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 Tbsp Paprika
1 Tsp Garlic Powder
1 Tsp Salt
1 Tsp Pepper
Preheat the oven to 170°C Fan, and separate the pumpkin seeds from the pulp if using directly from the pumpkin.
Rinse to remove final pieces of pulp and place on a paper towel to dry – I place one on top to get them extra dry.
Place on a lined baking tray and drizzle olive oil, paprika, garlic powder, salt and pepper and toss to coat. Ensure the seeds aren’t overlapping one another and then place into the over for around 20-30 mins until golden and crunchy.
Set aside until the soup is ready, or store in an air tight container for another day.