26 February 2008

Marmite Soup

It had to happen sooner or later. Butter and Marmite go so well together. The base for them is usually toast, but in this case, pumpkin puree makes a nice, mellow base for those flavors. Too easy and absolutely delicious!

3 tbsp butter
1 15 oz can pure pumpkin (Libby's)
1-4 tsp Marmite, to taste
Salt, to taste
Stale baguette
Sour cream

Heat a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Add butter and cook until the solids are decently brown and foam has subsided. Add the pumpkin a spoon at a time to the butter. This will stop the butter burning, and will also caramelize the pumpkin a little bit, developing more flavor. As the pumpkin dries out and begins to stick to the pan and brown a little bit, add about a quart of water. You want a pretty thin soup for what comes at the end.

Bring the soup to a simmer and stir in Marmite, stirring well so that it is completely incorporated. Add salt to taste.

Put pieces of stale baguette into a deep bowl. (I used a baguette that was nearly a month old!) Pour soup over the bread, and garnish with a little sour cream and some fresh ground black pepper.

 Careful, the bread will soak up the soup really quickly and very well. Even if you think the soup is really thin, you're likely to end up with a fairly thick concoction at the end.

Serves 4. Do me a favor and serve this to people who hate Marmite.

Update: This is by far my most popular blog post/recipe. I felt the need to update it to reflect what people have said about it.

First, tastes differ, so I've made the amount of Marmite variable.

Second, there's an odd trans-Atlantic issue with this recipe. Here in the US, we can readily find canned pumpkin because pumpkin pie is traditional. But we can't always find Marmite easily. In places where Marmite is readily available, you might not easily find canned pumpkin.

What do do? As my hero Jacques Pepin says, The art of cooking is the art of adjustment. Mostly, you just want something to add body. There are several options:

  • boil chunks of fresh pumpkin or butternut squash after adding the Marmite, then puree with a hand blender
  • substitute a can of white beans, added after the Marmite, and puree with a hand blender
Whatever you do, don't skip browning the butter. That's a necessary step for flavor.

If you have any comments or additions, I'd love to hear about them in the comments. It's wonderful to have comments on this recipe pop up in my inbox every few months.

If you're looking for other recipes, here's my recipe for gumbo and here's my recipe for curry. Would love some feedback on those.


cralbert said...

I can personally attest to the transformative power of this soup. I tried Marmite once before, on toast, at the hands of Rich, many many years ago and although I no longer have the memory of the taste, I've faithfully carried my resolve never to try it again since that day nearly 20 years past. But I can now consider Marmite to be within the realm of possibility. This soup was absolutely yummy. I appreciate the coagulative capacity of the bread as soup tends to be a bit too liquidy for my taste.

goodheavens said...

Hello :) This recipe looks like something I'd really like to try to make. I live in a country where I cannot get this tinned pumpkin though. If I use fresh/raw pumpkin what else do I need to add to substitute for the tinned one? Asia

Rich said...

Just add some water at the same time as the cubed pumpkin/squash. Just enough to cover, then puree once it's soft. I'd recommend a butternut squash.

goodheavens said...

Thank you!

DaveW said...

I tried this but wasn't thrilled. the recipe is very easy, but the end result was terribly bland and watery - and required a lot of salt just to give it taste. Ladels over the bread gave it some body, but my was very close to brown water tasting.

It was simple enough that I may try it again with a lot less water and a lot more scortching of the pumpkin...

Rich said...

Huh, that's odd. I'd suggest adding more butter or more Marmite, if it's flavorless. I tested these ratios pretty well.

Yoruneko said...

Marmite, the miso of the west!

Rich said...

Yeah, I was also intrigued by the French Onion Miso Soup in the Times blog recently.

Rich said...

I'm going to test this tonight and make sure the recipe is sound. I refuse to remove DaveW's comment about thinness, so have to go back to the drawing board. There's plenty of stale baguette on hand.

Anonymous said...

Hey you just made me think.. Marmite would be perfect to make a vegetarian verion of french onion soup!! I love onion soup its one of the first things i learnt to cook and make it every time I'm ill, or someone in my entourage is ill, or when it's particularly cold, or just when I fancy one (or husband requests one!). I usually just chop onions and garlic, briefly fry in the pan with bit of oil and mixed herbs (any herb does the trick but thyme is particularly good) then pour over beef broth (from stock cubes). Do you think marmite and hot water would work as well?? I have a feeling it might! It would add even more vitamins to the whole thing, plus I could now make it for my vegetarian friends when they're ill!!

Rich said...

Hmmm. I don't think Marmite can carry the entire flavor of a French onion soup. I suspect it would turn out thin and acrid. I think it's a welcome ingredient, but I would add miso and the soaking water from good dried porcinis to build a vegetarian French onion soup.

morri said...

Made this soup today, as I had a tupperware full of pumpkin puree in need of quick processing. The short ingredients list and the no-fuss procedure was a much-welcome bonus. I added a little less water, as I was afraid of losing the pumpkin flavour, but... wow, the soup thickens like a charm the very second your pour it over the baguette chunks. *insert my amazed face here*. Unfortunately, I couldn't serve it to people who do not like Marmite, as I don't know any. My folks love it, and they - predictably - enjoyed the soup, but they said that it was likely to leave both Marmite lovers and Marmite haters disappointed, because the brown stuff is barely there. I added a whole tablespoon and the flavour still wasn't too strong. I served the soup garnished with chives for an extra flavour kick. I reckon I'll probably add it to my usual repertoire, as it's so quick to make.

I adore the name of the blog, BTW. Gotta love the puns :)