Steve Drake pumpkin soup recipe

Warm the cockles with some pumpkin soup. Image: Getty/Istock

Warm the cockles with some pumpkin soup. Image: Getty/Istock - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Try this seasonal, warming recipe from the Michelin-starred chef at Sorrel in Dorking

Comfort food: the gastronomic equivalent of a warm hug. As the leaves fall and the weather gets colder, it got me thinking… what exactly is comfort food?

We all know that it’s generally simple, high-carb dishes, but it’s so much more than that. It’s sometimes nostalgic or sentimental, and always reliable - you know the next mouthful will taste almost exactly the same as the last.

Food like this tends to have lots of umami, which is the Japanse word for the fifth taste. It’s generally savoury, and characterized by cooked broths and meats. You’ll find umami present in the likes of parmesan cheese, mushrooms, and tomatoes.

This isn’t the kind of food I typically do at Sorrel.

At Sorrel I steer towards dishes that bring a different taste with each mouthful. Every forkful is a new flavour; from sweet to acidic, and my favourite, bitter. This creates an interesting taste profile that lets the dish dance across your palate throughout the meal.

We do, however, have one dish that I would describe as comfort food. Pumpkin espuma (soup) is my take on “home cooking”, and it’s the ideal dish for this time of year. Pumpkins seem to signify the change in season, bringing that feeling of nostalgia with them - you can almost imagine yourself as a child rushing through piles of orange and brown leaves.

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My last Ripley christmas fair, I made 100 Litres of the soup and it all went… every last drop. That is a lot of soup! I had to ration it at 25 litres per hour! It will be available at Sorrel throughout October as an appetiser, and it remains the most commented on dish on the menu. It’s made with small crown prince pumpkins, which are dark green on the outside. Cook these with onions and butter for an hour, then add the pumpkin and 30 month-aged parmesan cheese. Finally add stock and cream. You get an incredible flavour of pumpkin ,which gives you the umami taste and leaves you scraping the bottom of the bowl.

My pumpkin espuma recipe is below, its a bit cheffy and I would halve the quantities for home, unless you are planning on giving some away at a Christmas fair.

Pumpkin Espuma


3.5kg small diced pumpkin

2 onions

250g salted butter

200g grated parmesan (24 month)

2L white chicken stock

1L double cream

For pumkin seen crumb:

100g pumpkin seeds

100g sugar

2g smoked paprika

5g Maldon salt


Dice the onion very small and cook in the butter for approx. 20 mins until there’s no colour and it tastes sweet.

Add the pumpkin and increase the heat to allow the liquid to evaporate until it is thick and lumpy.

Add seasoning and the cheese and allow it to melt for a few minutes before adding the cream and stock.

Bring to the boil and simmer for 5 minutes.

Liquidise and adjust the seasoning - add a few drops of sherry vinegar if a little sweet.

Dry toast the pumpkin seeds, make a caramel with the sugare and add the seeds, salt and paprika.

Mix and pour to a crumb consitency and sprinkle over the soup.

Sorrel can be found at 77 South Street, Dorking RH4 2JU. See for up to date opening times and reservations.

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