Great news, the pumpkin season is not over yet! Do you love their vibrant color, fruity smell and gentle flavour, like I do? They come in different shapes and sizes and winter is the best time to make the most of them!
Pumpkins are not just props for Halloween. They shouldn’t be, as they’re not only pretty and effective looking decorations, but also can be used in variety of meals and desserts, or at least their edible species.
Before sharing my recipe for a delicious pumpkin soup, let me first tell you a story.
My mum and great-grandma taught me about the use of pumpkins when I was a kid. Great-grandma would grow pumpkins in her garden and then store them in her basement for several months (they last very long in a dark, dry and cool place).
Her basement was magical and scary at the same time. It was dark and cold. There were rooms, which looked like from a horror movie. One of them was an old (no longer used) dirty bathroom with a big bathtub covered in dust. Another room was a storage of wood, which needed to dry properly before it could be used in a fireplace. The air there smelled of burnt wood. When you came closer to the fireplace, you could watch the flames and little orange and red sparks flying away from them.
We’d be running around playing hide and seek with my brother and cousins. Until this day, I also remember seeing a few big pumpkins sitting there somewhere on the floor in a room which served as a food storage (was full of jars and tins).
Great-grandma would usually give us one of the pumpkins. Mum would then make an amazing compote and cake out of it. Mmm, yummy!
Later in my teenage years, I always had to persuade my parents to grow our own pumpkins in the garden (seeds go in the soil in April). What an awful idea, they thought, as the plant was just going to grow big and will be needing way too much space, meaning it’ll block part of the garden from having other produce, before eventually blooming into the vegetable as we know it (by the end of the summer).
Now, you understand growing them is a long process, but the joy of having self-grown pumpkins is amazing and worth every argument!
These days, I live in a flat, and without a garden there is no space to grow my own veg, as my balcony is too small, but pumpkins are still my favourite autumnal and winter ingredient. And luckily, some of them are widely available in shops here in the UK all year round!
Finally, here comes my favorite pumpkin (butternut squash) soup recipe, which is ideal for this time of the year.
Deliciously warming pumpkin soup
For 6-8 servings you will need:
- 1 butternut squash (or medium size pumpkin***)
- 3 bigger carrots
- 2 bigger potatoes
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1 onion
- 1,5 l chicken stock
- 200ml low fat crème fraîche
- 6 tbsp olive oil
- 2 slices rustic style, or sourdough bread
- 1 tsp thyme
- 1 tsp rosemary
- salt, black pepper
- Pre-heat the oven to 200C/Fan 180C.
- Start with the squash (or pumpkin): Very carefully cut it in halves, peel it and remove all seeds. Then cut it in equally-sized dices (1,5-2cm big).
- Mix the diced squash with 2 tbsp of olive oil, make sure it’s all covered in the oil and place it on a baking paper on baking tray, in a single layer. Put in the oven for 25-30 mins, or until slightly brown on top.
- In the meantime, prepare the rest of the vegetables: Peel and dice the onion, peel and roughly chop the garlic. Peel and wash the potatoes and carrots and cut them into same-sized dices.
- Add 2 tsbp of olive oil to a (deep enough) stock pot, bring to high heat, add the onion and garlic, lower to medium heat and let it soften.
- When the onion and garlic are soft enough, add the carrots, potatoes and stir the mixture properly.
- When ready, add the roasted butternut squash.
- Turn up the heat and add the chicken stock, and season with thyme and rosemary. Bring to boil, then lower the heat so it simmers and leave for 20 mins.
- Whilst the soup is cooking, prepare the croutons: Cut the slices of bread into same-sized dices. Add the remaining 2 tbsp of olive oil to a large frying pan, bring to high heat and add the diced bread. Fry the bread on high heat for 2-3 mins, turning occasionally, so it is brown from all sides. Set aside when hard and seemingly crunchy enough.
- Take the soup off the hob and blend it all with a stick blender, until you get a completely smooth texture. Taste it and add salt and black pepper if needed.
- The soup is now ready for dishing up: Serve in a bowl, add a spoon of crème fraîche and handful of crispy croutons on top.
Enjoy, have fun and let me know how you liked it!
What are you family’s favorite recipes? Tell me in the comments!
*** Technical note: In the recipe, I talk about pumpkin and butternut squash. They are from the same family of vegetables and can be easily substituted – use the one you prefer or whichever is easier to get. Butternut squash has got seeds only in the wide (bottom) part, whereas basic cooking pumpkin has them all over on the inside. The difference also is in the taste, butternut squash offers slightly stronger flavour than a basic cooking pumpkin. There are many types of pumpkins/squash, ie. Hokkaido which can be cooked with the skin on, as it dissolves during cooking, but the list could go on…