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We are friends who love making simple food look beautiful. We hope our recipes will inspire you to get into the kitchen this season. Aoife McElwain works in front of the camera writing the recipes and styling the food, while Mark Duggan works behind the camera to make sure it all looks as delicious as possible. We work with editors such as Killian Broderick and music supervisors like Nialler9 to make sure that our finished videos look and sound as smart as possible. We work with brands like Glenisk and Folláin to help them create delicious video content for their online platforms. When we're not making videos, we write a weekly column called Speedy Suppers on Thursdays in The Irish Independent. Aoife writes the recipes and styles the food while Mark takes the photographs.  
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03 Nov Pumpkin + Gruyère Soup

Pumpkins aren’t just for Hallowe’en, you know. I bet there are a bunch of discounted pumpkins for sale in your local food emporium. The leftovers from the spooky season, the wallflowers who weren’t destined to become Jack-O-Lanterns. Why not make use of these beauties by making them into a deliciously autumnal soup?

Like a poached egg, a great soup is one of those seemingly simple dishes that actually takes a bit of skill and care to get it really, really right. For me, a great soup is all down to the ingredients. There is no hiding from sub-par vegetables or cheap, bland cheese.

Gruyère is one of my favourite autumnal cheeses. The Swiss cheese is nutty, sweet and salty and it’s at its best when it meets heat. Good Gruyères can be a little pricy, but they’re always worth the money. I’ve noticed recently that a few supermarkets are producing own brand Gruyère-style cheese to varying degrees of quality. If you’re in a pinch, a block of one of these should do the trick but I’d recommend splashing out on a proper Gruyère or its French cousin Comté, as it will make the difference in your bowl of soup.

Another step in elevating soup is taking the time to roast the vegetables. It adds a little bit of time to the process but it pays off in the long run. I’ve taken a simpler route with this soup by simply boiling the pumpkin flesh, but you could throw the chunks into a roasting dish with some garlic, rosemary and oil and roast them for 20 minutes before adding them to your soup pot, bringing out a sweetness in the soup.

Pumpkin + Gruyère Soup

Serves 4

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cooking Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients

1 onion

2 carrots

3 cloves of garlic

Olive or vegetable oil

Half a small pumpkin (or a quarter of a large one)

1 fresh sprig of rosemary

500ml of good quality vegetable or chicken stock

100g of Gruyere cheese

Salt

Pepper

Hazelnuts or walnuts

Method

1. Peel and roughly chop the onion, carrots and garlic cloves.

2. In a good heavy-based saucepan or soup pot, heat a little drizzle of oil over a medium heat. Throw in the onion, carrots and garlic, and gently fry for about 10 minutes or until the onion is translucent.

3. While the onion is cooking, peel the pumpkin and remove the seeds. Slice into chunks about 2cm wide and thick.

4. When the onions are cooked, add the pumpkin to the pot along with the fresh rosemary. Stir and cook for a couple of minutes before adding the chicken stock. Make sure the pumpkin is just covered by the stock, topping up with a splash of hot water if you have to.

5. Let the soup bubble away for 20 minutes, or until the pumpkin is tender and cooked through. Then, take the soup off the heat and remove the rosemary sprig before using a hand-held blender to blitz the soup until smooth. Add a good generous pinch of salt and pepper, too.

6. Roughly grate the Gruyère cheese into the soup. stir it around until it’s deliciously melted. Serve the soup with a bit more grated Gruyère on top, a few finely chopped hazelnuts or walnuts and a bit of fresh rosemary on top.

Storecupboard Essential: A hand-held blender

These little guys are a versatile tool, essential for a well-functioning kitchen. They an inexpensive piece of kit that allows you to blitz up soup. Some of the better ones can even whizz up hummus. As winter envelops us, it’s time to dust off your handy blender.

This recipe first appeared in The Irish Independent on Thursday 3rd November 2016

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