Slowly Does It - Pumpkin Pie Porridge

This is my submission for 'Go Ahead Honey It's Gluten Free!', the gluten free baking event started right here on this humble lil old blog and carried aloft by the great and good of the gluten free community - God bless you every one (and all the other gods too, they bless you - and if you're Buddhist like me then you know that attachment to being blessed is counterproductive.....ah, I seem to have lost my train of thought).

Ah yes, the theme this month being slow food - the kind that takes hours to meld into something way more than the sum of its parts, the kind that celebrates sitting down with family and really tasting what's on your plate, a celebration of the chef's time and talent, the kind of food that is hopefully sourced from as near your house as possible and carried home in a re-usable bag......

Just lately, an idea for a breakfast soup has been bubbling away on the back burner of my creative stove. It may sound like a bizarre concept to those who rely on cereal, toast or even eggs for their morning meal, but I am about to prove to you that even the reluctant can be persuaded and then even converted to this warm and delicious way to start the day.

I've had cherry soup before, and chilled yoghurt soups too, why a smoothie ain't so far removed from a soup when you come to think of it? So why did I meet with such resistance when I shrugged on my apron and tossed some carrot in a pan this morning?

You know the kind of sweetness that emerges from roots vegetables when you cook them slowly in a little spoonful of fat? That's what I was after for this soup that was sweet and cinnamon kissed and emerged slowly, as we sat in the warm kitchen and watched the frost lift off the grass, under the first rays of sun slinking into the garden.

When the buttery apple had given off that fantastic autumnal scent and the carrots melded with the squash almost to collapse, I tweaked the final cinnamon note and blitzed away with the food processor until everything was an unctuous velvety orange. It was delicious and hugely reminiscent of that pumpkin pie I shared so reluctantly with my boys.

As a soup, or even a sauce it was both hearty and yet delicately flavoured - but it became something much more breakfasty when I stirred in a few spoonfuls of freshly ground almonds. The soup became a warmly spiced fruity porridge, slightly sweet, nutty and satisfying enough to see me through until lunch time. It would have been delicious with a spoonful of yoghurt or creme fraiche - but my yoghurt maker still had another 12 hours to complete in the 24 hour SCD yoghurt marathon, ho hum.

"Hey guys you have to taste this soup!" I ventured enthusiastically - whilst fearing that I had made a rather small test batch.

Fin and Nick peered dubiously at the bowl I was photographing and started to mutter excuses about not being that hungry and planning to eat just a morsel of something else that definitely wasn't soup - for breakfast.

Unperturbed, I sat down to eat my delicious bowl of porridge with a great deal of lip smacking and appreciation while Fin hovered about and Nick scarfed down a rather conventional looking bowl of oats.

Eventually the performance got the better of Fin and he leaned in for a taste of the intriguing gloop. And then like a trained killer, he swooped in silently - before I had a chance to shout, "stop thief!", and snatched the whole bowl - like Goldilocks finding she did like the little bear's porridge - whisking it off to the other side of the table to gobble up before it got cold. Humph! I guess the lesson here is not to call this soup, or gloop - spin it a little and your audience will be swallowing down their breakfast food prejudices before you can say pumpkin.

If you want to eat this any time before 10am, make it the night before - it won't be rushed! In the morning, heat thoroughly and stir in your ground nuts until it has the right porridgy consistency before spooning something cool and creamy on top or adding a drizzle of your favourite honey. Porridge, it ain't - but it does seem to fit right in that place porridge used to occupy and I'm looking forward to many a steaming bowl of this on a cold winter's morning to warm my spleen and bring a hint of pumpkin pie to the day.

Pumpkin Pie Porridge (three modest portions)

1 sweet eating apple
1 tsp butter
1 tsp coconut oil
6 oz carrots (peeled weight)
half a small squash (about 6-8oz peeled and de-seeded)
1/2 tsp cinnamon

1 extra tsp coconut oil to finish
Approx 9 dessertspoons of ground nuts
(I used almonds with skin on)

Peel, core and chop the apple roughly.

Melt both butter and 1 tsp coconut oil in a saucepan and add the apple, saute over medium heat until it starts to soften.

Chop carrots and add to the pan. Turn the heat down low and stir every now and then as they start to soften.

Chop squash and add this to the pan. Keep the heat low and stir occasionally until everything is soft and starting to colour. It will take about half an hour.

Then add enough boiling water to cover the veg, sprinkle over cinnamon and simmer for about an hour with the lid firmly on. If the liquid level drops then top it up, but don't add too much - you can always thin it down at the end.

When the hour is up, pour everything into a blender and process until velvety smooth. Add the remaining coconut oil and process again. Does it need more cinnamon, a little honey, or is it just right?

Either chill overnight or eat straight away with three spoonfuls of ground nuts added to each bowl and stirred in, perhaps sprinkle a little ground cinnamon over the top and the afore mentioned optional extras spooned generously over the top.