October 31st is here again and I’ve collected all my pumpkins into the safety of my green house before the first frosts.
It’s been a terrible year for growing pumpkins and all other Winter squash here in the Lake District. They thrive on late Summer sunshine and, although we had a beautiful Spring, July onwards rained more than I like to admit. The one squash that did well was a tromboncino, a beautiful squash that left the remains of my climbing bean supports draped in little, twisting, lime green trombones.
But Halloween has its needs, and I sacrificed two of my small collection of round squash to light up my clinic window for tonight. These, in the photo, are a delicious Rouge Vif d’Etampes and a little, blue Crown Prince.
Now both of these are far too tasty to throw away, so I’ve put together the recipe for the therapeutic, spicy, pumpkin soup that I’ve made with my pumpkin innards.
Here you go. Remember, the key with pumpkins is to do everything you can to add flavour. These two types of squash are sweet and nutty without too much help, but if you’re carving a big round American pumpkin, then up the quantities of spices a bit and keep tasting
- Cut the top off your pumpkin and scoop out the innards with your hand (very gruesomely appropriate for Halloween!
- scoop out the flesh with a spoon and knife, cut up the big chunks a bit, place on a baking tray with olive oil and salt and pepper and roast until it begins to brown. This step really helps boost the flavour.
- Meanwhile slowly fry up four chopped red onions until caramelising.
- Add four chopped garlic cloves, a half thumb sized, chopped piece of ginger, the same amount of washed and grated fresh turmeric (or three teaspoons of dried turmeric powder) and continue to fry for a couple of minutes.
- Add 3 chopped sticks of celery, three chopped, large carrots, a chopped, red pepper and a small red, chopped, chilli pepper. Stir, add a slosh of water to stop it burning and cook with the lid on and occasional shaking or stirring for 10 mins.
- Add three teaspoons of marigold bouillon, three heaped teaspoons of baharat spice mix, one and a half litres of water and all the baked pumpkin (I hope you started with your biggest saucepan!)
- Add a mug of red lentils and simmer for twenty mins.
- Add 2 cans of chopped tomatoes, a slosh of red wine vinegar and a few handfuls of spinach or chard leaves and cook for another ten mins.
Whizz it before eating and grate some cheese on top when you serve. I like a blob of rose harrisa too.
So from a therapeutic point of view the squash is a fantastic Yin tonic, which is just what we all need for going forwards into Winter with our batteries fully charged! It’s packed with minerals and vitamins; lots of immune-supportive vitamin A, folate, B6 and potassium as well as loads of free radical- scavenging vitamin C. The spices in the Baharat (one of my favourite spice mixes) are warming and help fend off Winter colds. The turmeric is anti inflammatory and the chilli and ginger balance its coolness to keep the soup warming. So delicious and good for you too.
Now off to squeeze into my Witches costume (Oh I’m in it already!)