Orange crush: Alice Zaslavsky’s one-tray roast pumpkin, sweet potato and carrot soup recipe

<span>Alice Zaslavsky’s orange vegetable soup is ‘like a hug in a mug’, and can be garnished with curry leaves, mustard seeds and a swish of coconut cream.</span><span>Photograph: Benjamin Dearnley</span>
Alice Zaslavsky’s orange vegetable soup is ‘like a hug in a mug’, and can be garnished with curry leaves, mustard seeds and a swish of coconut cream.Photograph: Benjamin Dearnley

We’ve all been there. You see someone across the room and think, “They look interesting – just my cup of tea.” And when you finally work up the courage to chat to them, it’s like you’ve known each other forever.

This recipe is that, in a soup. Lovely sweet, creamy flavours, like a hug in a mug, plus a bonus garnish to take the menage to the next level. And did I mention it’s easy? Sit back my friend, because no heavy-duty chopping is required. Just pile in the veg for a warm, snug sit in the oven while you put the kettle on and slip into something a little more comfortable.

If you’ve scanned the ingredients list and have most of the orange bits and bobs, but maybe only one type of pumpkin, fewer carrots, or a turnip instead of a swede, worry not! The veg is easily substituted. Just take a squiz at the photo (below) of the tray and try to fill yours with about the same amount of whatever veg you do have.

Related: Gourd almighty! Alice Zaslavsky’s recipe for pumpkin fritters with spiced chickpea couscous

You have carte blanche to roast any colour-coordinated veg combos and blitz to a soup: tomatoes, capsicums, red onion; all sorts of greens and herbs.

For a Fodmap-friendly option, sub out the onion and garlic for half a teaspoon of asafoetida – a spice which mimics the flavour of alliums.

Don’t stress about making stock from scratch. I’ve had friends with romantic notions of writing down their bubba’s chicken soup recipes, only to discover the “secret ingredient” isn’t love: it’s stock cubes. These canary-yellow cubes and powders, be they Massel, Vegeta or similar, are a brilliant way to add flavour and that special something to all sorts of dishes. Many stock cubes are also vegan, even if they’re called “chicken flavour”. But be sure to taste your dish after adding the cube as it will invariably mean you’ll need to add less salt. This is especially true if you’re using a shop-bought liquid stock, as these are usually jacked up with sodium.

Another thing that gives this recipe extra flavour is the schmaltz – the Yiddish word for chicken fat (or any fat, actually). You can apply the same schmaltz-making principles to plant-based dishes. When roasting veggies, just double down on the olive oil and toss in some extra juicy veggies such as capsicum. The juices can be used afterwards in a sauce for a pasta.

Orange vegetable one-tray soup – recipe

In this recipe I’ve suggested some “accents” that will help bring another dimension to your veg-packed soup. Feel free to choose one, depending on your mood – curry leaves and coconut for fragrance, lime for spikiness, pomegranate seeds for pop-in-your-mouth astringency, cream and chives for cream-and-chive-iness. If you choose to garnish this soup with accent 5 , note that rice seasoning is more of a sprinkle – like a Japanese dukkah Asian grocers sell different varieties, from nori-rich savoury–sweet furikake to spicy shichimi togarashi (“seven peppers” or “seven spices”).

Serves 4–6, plus generous leftovers

1kg kent pumpkin, cut into wedges
½ butternut pumpkin
, halved, seeds removed
2 medium carrots
, unpeeled
1 sweet potato
, unpeeled, halved
1 swede
, halved
1 onion
, skin on, halved
4 garlic cloves
, skin on
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp sea salt
6 cups (1.5L) vegetable stock or water
1 good-quality stock cube
½ tsp ground white pepper
A rasp of nutmeg
Juice of 1 orange
1 thumb-sized knob of fresh ginger
, peeled and finely grated

Accent 1
20 fresh curry leaves
, fried with 1 tsp brown mustard seeds, or 40 dried curry leaves, gently warmed in 1 cup (250ml) olive oil and left to infuse for 5 minutes
Coconut cream

Accent 2
8–10 lime leaves
, finely sliced
Coconut cream
Lime juice
Thai basil

Accent 3
Pomegranate molasses
Fresh pomegranate seeds
Ground sumac

Accent 4
Single (pure) cream
Chopped chives

Accent 5
Miso paste
Rice seasoning

Related: Soups, stews and king congee: eight cosy recipes for a rainy weekend

Preheat the oven to 180C. Arrange the pumpkins, carrots, sweet potato and swede on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Nestle in the onion halves and garlic cloves. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and toss to coat. Roast for 45 minutes or until all the veggies are extremely relaxed and very susceptible to forking. Remove from the oven.

Once cooled, take the skin off the pumpkins and scoop out the flesh from the sweet potato and swede. Slip the skin off the onion and pop the lush softened garlic cloves out of their skins with a squeeze. Be sure to scrape all the syrupy goodness from the bottom of the pan, too; this is veggie schmaltz.

Bring the stock or water to the boil and dissolve the stock cube in it.

Allow the roasted veg and stock (or water) to cool briefly, then combine and blitz until super smooth, using a stick blender or in batches in a blender.

Season to taste with salt, white pepper and nutmeg. Add the orange juice and stir the ginger through to give it some fresh bite, and serve with your chosen accent.

• Alice Zaslavsky is the author of The Joy of Better Cooking, published by Murdoch Books in Australia (A$49.99) and the UK (£25), which is available as Better Cooking in Canada and the US, published by Appetite by Random House (US$35)