Pumpkin soup

Halloween isn’t really celebrated in earnest here in the UK. Each year a few people decide to have a fancy dress party, and of course most kids get to troop around their immediate neighbourhood in shop-bought costumes asking (usually nicely) for sweets. And various things that happen every week anyway get to be horror themed this week, just like The Simpsons.

Still, I always carve a pumpkin. It’s my one observance, a restrained outlet for my creative juices when I’d rather be up on a rain-washed heath with a coven of sexy witches engaged in some serious blood-letting in the name of Hecate. Did I say that out loud?

This year I’ve gone trad, with an ugly face. My favourite ever was the tiger from a couple of years back. The secret weapon is a scalpel. You can get some pretty fine detail done with one of them. Don’t ask me why I have a scalpel, I can’t remember. Nor where the blood stains came from.

And of course once you’ve hollowed out your pumpkin you might have up to a kilogram of sweet flesh to deal with. Pumpkin soup time! But if you’re bored with pumpkin soup, I can totally recommend Nigel Slater’s recipe for a Pumpkin Scone. It’s excellent, and totally fitting for a brightly cold or miserably rainy evening at the end of October.

Of course, even after this we still had enough left for pumpkin soup! I like it spicy…

Spiced pumpkin soup
500g pumpkin flesh
1 small onion, roughly diced
1 small apple, cored and chopped into chunks
3 cloves garlic, skin on
1 pint vegetable stock
1 tsp cinnamon powder
1 tsp cumin seeds, dry-fried
1 tsp dried thyme
1/4 of a habanero chilli (or less if you don’t like spicy, or just omit)

  1. Put the pumpkin bits in a roasting tray, stick the garlic cloves and apple amongst them, pour on a little olive oil, season with salt and pepper, then roast at 160C for 20-30 mins. Basically, don’t let much of the pumpkin go black.
  2. Fry the onion in butter for a few minutes, then throw in the pumpkin, apple and the garlic flesh (squeezed out of the cloves like toothpaste!).
  3. Add the stock, the cinnamon, the chilli and the thyme. Simmer for 20 minutes or so – longer is fine.
  4. Blend! Serve in a bowl, sprinkled with cumin seeds.

I had some spare blue goat cheese, and this also worked very well crumbled on top.

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