Now the autumn is upon us (it’s a very chilly 28º in the shade at this precise moment), soup season has officially commenced in our house. We’ve actually lit the fire for the past couple of nights, although it’s quite warm during the day the sun’s rays don’t make it through to our lounge and it’s a tad chilly when we’re flaked out on the sofa at night doing nothing much at all.

Alarge bowl of homemade soup is another decent way to bring the body temperature up a couple of degrees. And if it’s thick and lines the walls of your stomach with a sweet, warm coating, even better. As you’ve probably fathomed by now, I can’t live without pumpkin, whether it be vegan ice cream (recipe and us harvesting the orange veggies here), cake, pie, soup and even by itself, baked whole or roasted in the oven.

Since we have a rather large amount of winter squashes (we’re having to have another room built at home, just to be able to store them all!) the soup I make the most in the cooler months is pumpkin. Well, actually, that’s not quite right. I normally make it with butternut squash but seeing as we had a pumpkin that needed using rapidly I decided to use that instead.

Peeling the pumpkin. I had to cut it into smaller pieces to be able to peel it properly. I used a smaller knife to peel it than the one I’d used to cut it into pieces. If I’d have peeled it with a big knife I doubt I’d have any fingers left now.

There are a couple of reasons why I don’t normally make soup with the round, flat pumpkins. The first is because of their sweetness. Butternut squash (calabaza de cacahuete) isn’t quite as sweet and makes for a better soup in my opinion. The other is because of their skin. It’s incredibly hard and thick and peeling one is a feat in itself. Just cutting it in half can result in the necessity of a session with your physio!

Butternut squash can be peeled with a potato peeler if you want. That is impossible with the flat, round variety. Hence why I normally cut them in half and bake them to use in other ways. But still, it needed using up and I wanted soup so I’d have to confront my fears and attack it with a large kitchen knife.

I started this particular soup by firstly peeling the pumpkin. Five hours later (only a slight exaggeration) I cut it into large chunks and put it to one side.

Almost a kilo and a half of peeled pumpkin, possibly slightly too much for a family of 2.

As you can see in the photo, there is quite a large amount of chopped pumpkin, more than I would normally use. Hence why half way through this recipe’s photos you’ll see a change in saucepans. When I tipped the pumpkin into the first saucepan it completely filled it so I had to tip everything into one of my bigger saucepans. Just a slight glitch and thankfully with remedy. For this post’s recipe below I’ll halve the amounts!!

A good glug of oil gets heated in a large saucepan over a low to medium heat whilst I chop one very large onion into chunks. The chunks don’t have to be too small ’cause it all gets whizzed up in the end anyway, pointless wasting too much time faffing about.

Put the onion into the saucepan and cook with a couple of pinches of salt until it’s softish and translucent. Add the chopped pumpkin or butternut squash and continue to cook. After 10 minutes or so I added two large peeled and chopped potatoes and continued to cook whilst I heated about a litre of water in the kettle.

When the kettle boils, pour the water over the vegetables until completely covered. I like to add quite a bit because most gets strained off after and I use it as a stock in other recipes. Bring it all to a boil, adding a couple more pinches of salt, put the lid on the pan and turn the heat down to low. Cook until the squash and the potato are soft then turn off the heat.

Strain everything into a colander over a large metal bowl to collect the stock. It’s best not to use a plastic bowl or colander ’cause the stock is boiling, I’m not too keen on using plastic at all, but I certainly won’t use it with anything hot.

All the veggies didn’t fit in the colander but the main thing was to strain the liquid into the bowl below

Tip all the veggies back into the saucepan and add some of the stock. Whizz with an immersion blender. The more stock you add, the thinner the soup will be. I add a bit at a time until I reach the consistency I like, which is quite thick, can’t be doing with thin pumpkin soup. Once it’s smooth, test for salt and serve.

Most soups in this house get the obligatory swirl of olive oil but the winter squash kind also gets chopped, toasted walnuts on top (from Pep’s tree in Pinos, the one we planted here this year is a tad too young to be producing nuts just yet). I think walnuts and pumpkin make a very good team and the walnuts bring healthy fats and protein to the table too, amongst other benefits.

This particular soup I served with a gluten free fresh sage cornbread which I adapted from this recipe here. To make it dairy free, I substituted the buttermilk for sunflower seed milk that I quickly whizzed up in my blender, then added the juice of half a lemon and let it sit for 5 minutes.

It could be easily made vegan by substituting the egg with a flax egg I should think, I’ll try it soon, no doubt. In place of the honey I used maple syrup but I only used about half the amount that’s specified in the recipe. The next time I make the bread I will probably use even less. I prefer cornbread when it’s not too sweet, even though it should be, but the pumpkin soup is already sweet enough.

The fresh sage in the bread goes really well with the pumpkin soup. Fresh sage, pumpkin and walnuts are a match made in heaven in my opinion and all are super healthy too. Hence why the following day, to use up the delicious pumpkin stock, I made a vegan risotto using onion, red pepper, fresh sage, nutritional yeast, and topped it all off with more walnuts. The red pepper combines incredibly well with the flavours of the fresh sage, walnuts and pumpkin. Divine and so warming.

The marvellous pumpkin stock, great for using in risottos

I also made this soup a week or so ago with courgette in place of the pumpkin. It too was scrumptious. Oh, how I adore thick soup. Simple things…

Right, that be all for today. I best get some work done. As always I’ll be back on Valley Fm this Saturday between 12pm and 2pm. Listen online here if you fancy. Thanks for reading. And if you have any questions or suggestions don’t hesitate to contact us, we’d love to hear from you. See you very soon. Lots of love, Georgie and Pep xxx