I had a fight with my mum over this soup. Specifically, the coconut milk in this soup. (Yes, I'm living back at home for this Sydney stint, and yes, I probably am too old to fight with my parents, but there you go). "When I was young and trying to lose weight," she sing-songed to a tune of passive aggression, "I never would have used coconut milk." Cue instant, disproportionate rage. Oh, mum. You really know how to push my little hot-wired, weight-sensitive buttons. "But you ate green apples for three days when you were dieting," I shot back, trying not to screech. "You can't tell me that's healthy!" Oh, it was on. "Well, I lost weight!" she fired back. "I see you trying so hard and getting nowhere." THANKS FOR THE ENCOURAGEMENT, MUM.
I actually haven't been trying that hard - I've been working out on the reg, but I haven't been in the zone with my eating. There have been too many treats. Way too many treats. I hadn't put on any weight, but I hadn't lost any, either, and I know that with PCOS, I have to work super hard to shift the kegs (and there are many to shift). So, I've decided to go back to Whole30, or a variation of it - a "lifestyle change" (come on, we all know it's a flippin' diet) that's kind of Paleo-ish, where you cut out sugar, dairy, grains, legumes and alcohol for a month. When I've done it in the past, I've felt great and managed to lose a bit of weight, and I've loved eating a ton of avocadoes and coconut milk and olive oil as part of it. Yeah, FAT. One of the things that blew my mind when I was diagnosed with PCOS was that fat helps our hormones run smoothly - I'd been on and off some variation of a low-fat diet which didn't work for years (Weight Watchers, 12WBT) and had no idea. It's also, apparently, better for PCOS ladies to avoid sugar and dairy as much as possible because of their neg effects on blood sugar levels and hormones, so Whole30 ticks those boxes for me. Oh, and even though grains (and quinoa) are off the table, you can have unrefined carbs like sweet potatoes. And I love a sweet potato. Bung on some olive oil, bake the shit out of it, and I'll be anyone's sweet potato.
Anyway, this is all background to the moment I found myself meal-prepping for the week and defending my can of coconut milk. Coconut milk is high in fat, true! But when you've cut so much else out (like the crusty bread and butter that would be anyone sane's accompaniment to soup) and you need a lunch that will keep you full (fat = no need to snack in a couple of hours), AND you know a bit of fat is actually doing good things for your insides, you stop giving a shit about it. So keep your apples, Mum, because I loved this tangy, rich soup and it kept me full until dinner. Plus! As I smugly told her later, when I was still stewing over our fight, it only has 298 calories per serve, which is totally reasonable for a lunch (buttery toast not included, but go on - just don't let your mum see).
PUMPKIN, COCONUT & LEMON SOUP
1 whole, medium butternut pumpkin
1 tbs extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp turmeric
4 cups of vegetable stock
2 cans of coconut milk
Zest of one lemon
Salt & pepper
Makes 6 servings
First up, preheat the oven to 180 degrees c to roast your pumpkin (roasting makes it sweeter but you can also microwave it, or skip this step altogether and just chuck raw chunks in after the onions and before the liquid). Split the pumpkin, scoop out the seeds, and pop it on a baking tray and into the oven for about an hour, or until it's nice and soft.
Dice your onion, and saute it in the olive oil - adding the cumin and turmeric - until it's soft and translucent. Now scoop out your cooked pumpkin and add it to the pot. Chuck in the stock and coconut milk, and bring it to the boil. Lower the heat and let simmer for half an hour. Meanwhile, zest your lemon. As you turn off the heat, add the zest to your soup and stir it through. Grab your stick blender (or throw batches in a blender/food processor) and blitz until it's smooth and silky. Enjoy!