22 May

I never realised how expensive fresh herbs were until I tried to buy some. Thus far we’ve been lucky enough to receive them as gifts from generous, cashed-up friends and have savoured them over several weeks to get the biggest bang for our (friends’) buck.

But when I went to the supermarket expecting to pick up a bunch of coriander for, say, fifty cents, I was rudely awakened – after all, these are the days of ridiculously high food prices.

Instead the coriander was four times my fantasy price. Two dollars for one or two usages? That hardly seemed fair – unless, of course, someone else was paying. So I came up with a more economical solution.

My flatmate and I discussed getting our own herb garden before we moved in together, and then quickly forgot about it once bills and rent started coming in. It just seemed an unnecessary cost in the grand scheme of things and nowhere near as important as a fondue set or heart-shaped ice cube trays.

Yet seeing pretty little pots at the supermarket hit a nerve and made me reminisce about the good ol’ days where my herbs didn’t come in powder form. The days of vibrant green freshness and intense bursts of flavour. Sigh.

And seeing as the individual pots were only a dollar extra than their packaged bunch counterparts, I figured they’d be much better value – granted we could keep them alive.

So I chose the three I thought would come in most handy: coriander, basil and flat-leaf parsley. There were more that I could have chosen, and indeed if I had more money and plant-rearing skills, I would have, but due to my lack of both I stuck with three as a kind of trial.

They’re sitting quite nicely in the kitchen and are so far pretty easy to keep alive. A bit of water, a lot of sun and voila, fresh herbs at the ready. We’ve only had them for six days but I’m thinking this whole home gardening thing can’t be too hard.

To celebrate (because this is clearly a significant milestone) the addition of our new herbs, I decided on a spiced pumpkin and coriander soup as our first (legitimately paid for) fresh herb meal.

Pumpkin is cheap as chips, making this entire meal cost roughly $3. I suppose it’s not necessary but the addition of coriander takes it to a whole new level – whatever that means.

Spiced pumpkin and coriander soup.

Spiced Pumpkin and Coriander Soup

Serves 2 (with leftovers)

1kg butternut pumpkin, peeled and roughly chopped

2 carrots, peeled and roughly chopped

1 TBSP chicken stock powder

1 litre (4 cups) water

½ tsp cinnamon powder

½ tsp ginger powder

1 tsp cumin

½ cup milk

salt and pepper, to taste

¼ cup fresh coriander, roughly chopped

  1. Put the pumpkin, carrots, chicken stock and water in a large heavy-based saucepan over medium heat.
  2. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer.
  3. Once the pumpkin and carrots are really soft and able to be broken up quite easily, add the spices.
  4. Using a masher, mash up the pumpkin-carrot-water mix. To get it to an even smoother consistency, put the lot in a blender and puree. Or you could use a bar mix. Or, like me, you could attempt to use a hand mixer. It leaves the soup a little chunky but if that’s all you’ve got, it’s fine.
  5. Add the milk and continue to blend.
  6. Season with salt and pepper.
  7. Serve topped with fresh coriander.

2 Responses to “Herbalicious.”

  1. Anonymous May 27, 2010 at 5:19 am #

    This tastes great and even better on cold days! Keep it up! =]

  2. thatjennie May 27, 2010 at 12:58 pm #

    This is great! Have linked to it in my blog.

    Also, funnily enough my Dad was talking about a really cheap spice shop in Liverpool (a bit too much of a trek for you though!) anddd in Bridget Jones’ Diary The Edge Of Reason (book form) she is debating what to do to commemorate Princess Diana when she goes, and she watches a tv show about someone planting a tree in her name and so decides to do the same. But with basil.

    ❤ xo

    We should do dumplings soon *drools*.

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