Spicy Pumpkin Soup

A tasty end result when cooking with pumpkin
A tasty end result when cooking with pumpkin

Pumpkins aren’t just for Halloween and Jack O’Lanterns. As I have recently discovered they are super tasty oven roasted, stuffed in homemade tortelli (courtesy of an Italian friend’s mother) or made into soup.

Ready wedged pumpkin
Ready wedged pumpkin

The owner of Mircey regularly tries to get us to buy new season or unusual vegetables. In the past we’ve bought stunning looking romanesco cauliflowers, round courgettes, custard apples and black turnips. Recently he’s been attempting to persuade us into buying pumpkin (of the Crown Prince variety I think) which he conveniently sells ready wedged and wrapped in cling film.

Ready for turning into soup
Ready for turning into soup

I had been resisting as I had never cooked with pumpkin (other than its close relation butternut squash) before. But then, inspired by my friend Graham‘s tweet about pumpkin soup, and jealous he was getting to eat it and not me, I relented and decided to make my own.

Fragrant cumin and coriander seeds
Fragrant cumin and coriander seeds

As pumpkin is fairly sweet, I wanted to offset the soup with some spice – both fragrant and hot. I used cumin and coriander seeds which are very typical in Indian cooking to give a warmth to the pumpkin, and dried red chilli for the heat. I normally put two teaspoons in – this is really hot, but just how I like it! One teaspoon will give a good kick, but use less if you’re not accustomed to chilli. A tablespoon of plain yoghurt can be added when serving to give a contrasting coolness to both the temperature and spice.

A perfect lunch or light supper on a cool Autumn day.

Spicy Pumpkin Soup (serves 4)

The best lunch
The best lunch

1kg (doesn’t have to be exact) pumpkin flesh
3 tbsp olive oil
1 white onion
2 large garlic cloves
3 tsp cumin seeds
3 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp dried chilli flakes (or to taste)
1 litre hot vegetable stock
Handful coriander

Peel the pumpkin and remove the seeds and soft pulpy bits. Chop into chunks approximately 4-5 cm in size. Keep aside.

Heat the oil with the dried chilli in a heavy based pan. Finely chop the onion, crush the garlic and add to the pan. Cook on a low heat until soft (approximately 10 minutes).

Meanwhile, place the cumin and coriander seeds in a small frying pan and toast gently for a few minutes to release their oils. Grind them until they are almost fine in a pestle and mortar. Keep aside.

Add the pumpkin to the onion pan with 4 teaspoons of the cumin/coriander mix and stir. Cook for a couple of minutes stirring every now and then. Add the stock, bring to the boil, and then allow to simmer for around 30 minutes or until the pumpkin is soft but not mushy.

Puree in a food processor or blender. Check the seasoning – I don’t normally add anything if I’ve used stock cubes. You could stir in a little cream at this point if you like, but I think this dilutes the taste of the pumpkin.

Divide the soup between 4 bowls. Sprinkle with a little of the remaining cumin/coriander mix and garnish with a little chopped coriander. Serve with toasted slices of sourdough rubbed with a little garlic and drizzled with olive oil.

Any leftovers can be frozen for a later date.

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