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.