Pumpkin soup, the best you ever tasted?

The wee lads have a beloved book, it’s called Pumpkin Soup. It is impossible to say how many times this book has been read. One particular stanza has stuck in my mind.

‘Pumpkin Soup. The best you ever tasted. Made by the Cat who slices up the pumpkin. Made by the Squirrel who stirs in the water. Made by the duck who scoops up a pipkin of salt, and tips in just enough.’

This mantra is always in the back of my mind when making pumpkin soup. (Or as the Yak and I call it, snoup…no idea why.) Naturally, the children won’t touch the stuff.

Now, this may not be the best pumpkin soup you ever tasted but it ain’t half bad.

You could have a pumpkin soup recipe you love so much that no other can or will, hold a candle to it. If you have a hankering to try something new, this soup is buttery and softly sweet with a mild undercurrent of warming Indian spices. Feel free to add half a teaspoon of red chilli powder if you fancy a hit of the good stuff. Hearty autumnal soup, good for the soul and just the thing for the gobshite horrid weather that has descended upon us recently.

Spiced pumpkin soup

2 tbl oil
1 onion, roughly chopped
1 carrot, roughly chopped (I don’t peel, lots of goodness in the skin!)
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tsp dried coriander
1/2 tsp dried cumin
1/2 tsp dried ginger
1/2 tsp dried turmeric
2 tsp sea salt (or a pipkin)
1 potato, roughly chopped (don’t bother peeling)
butternut pumpkin (my 1.4kg pumpkin yielded 900g chopped pumpkin)
6 cups water
1 cup dried red lentils, rinsed under cold water
Salt and pepper to taste

Sauté onion and carrot for 3- 4 few minutes over medium heat.
Add garlic, spices and salt and cook for one minute, stirring.
Add the pumpkin and potato and stir through.
Add the water, lentils and a few grinds of black pepper.
Bring to the boil then reduce to a simmer and cook on medium heat.
Whilst cooking, check for salt, you may need to add a bit more.
When cooking lentils, sometimes a ‘frothy scum’ rises to the surface. Don’t go nuts but do skim off some of it whilst cooking.
Once the vegetables are soft and collapsing (about 40 minutes), take off heat and blend with a stick blender until smooth.
Add water to get the consistency of soup you prefer and gently heat through. I added about an extra 3/4 of a cup as I don’t enjoy overly gluggy soup. This soup does thicken quite a bit as it cools.
Garnish with a sprig of coriander and a dollop of plain yoghurt if you have it and serve with crunchy toast or your favourite crackers.
Great for the next day and for freezing.

A cheergerm recipe

A quick note on stock, many years ago I used to make my own chicken, seafood and beef stock. Then I had children. That is my excuse and I am sticking to it. Store bought ready made stock is very salty, so when I do use it, I either water or it down or try and buy the reduced salt variety. Frozen meat or vegetable stocks from butchers and gourmet food outlets are also a great alternative.

For veggie soups, I often don’t use any stock and try and let the natural ‘vegetable flavours’ shine through. (Although I will use a spoon of Massel veggie stock powder which is gluten free and vegan, sometimes.) Lately I have had a hankering to try making my own veggie stock. Stay tuned for that.

Book photo credits: ‘Pumpkin Soup’ written by Helen Cooper, published by Picture Corgi Books Transworld Publishers Ltd. Copyright 1998 by Helen Cooper.

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