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Eat Caribbean by Virginia Burke
Embodying the flavours of the Caribbean, this gloriously decadent soup is the perfect introduction to a Caribbean feast. 'Calabaza', the Spanish name for pumpkin, is common throughout the islands and a thick, rich pumpkin soup is just as widespread.
Preparation and cooking time: about 1 hour.
Serves 6


• 1 litre (1 3/4 pints) vegetable or chicken stock
• 1 lobster tail
• 2 oz butter
• 1 large onion, finely chopped
• 2 garlic cloves, crushed
• 1 kg (2 Ib 4 oz) pumpkin or butternut squash, peeled, de-seeded and chopped coarsely
• 4 plum tomatoes, peeled de-seeded and chopped
• 1 fresh thyme sprig
• 1 scotch bonnet pepper or 1/2 tsp hot pepper sauce (optional)
• 1/2 cup single cream or full-cream milk
• a few dashes of Sherry
• oil, for brushing
• salt and ground white pepper
• 1 tbsp finely chopped fresh coriander, to garnish

Pour 2 cups of the stock into a medium-Sized saucepan and bring to the boil. Add the lobster tail and simmer for 15 minutes.

2. Remove the lobster tail from the pan and set aside to cool a little. Then remove the meat from the shell. Reserve the stock and the lobster meat.

3. In a large saucepan, heat the butter over gentle heat, add the onion and garlic and saute for 5 minutes. Stir in the pumpkin and cook for about 10-15 minutes, or until it is soft.

4. Add the tomatoes, thyme and the whole scotch bonnet pepper (if using) and pour in all the remaining stock. Bring back to the boil, lower the heat again and simmer for 20 minutes.

5. Remove the pan from the heat. Take out the hot pepper and thyme and discard. Liquidise the soup in a food processor or liquidiser, being careful not to make it too smooth. Alternatively, using a hand-held blender or potato masher, mash the ingredients in the pan.

6. Return the soup to the pan and heat gently. If you have not used a scotch bonnet pepper and wish to add some heat to the soup, now add the pepper sauce, then the cream or milk and sherry. Check and adjust the seasoning.

7. Finally, slice the lobster meat into slices and brush with a little oil. Heat a griddle pan or non-stick frying pan and flash-grill the lobster slices.

8. To serve, ladle the soup into the bowls, place a slice of lobster in each bowl and sprinkle on the coriander.

Cook's tip: If you don't mind spending a little more time on this soup, you might try roasting the pumpkin first. That really brings out its sweet, nutty flavour.


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