Pumpkin soup on a cold day

We’ve just had one of the coldest winters for years. Something like this:

Snow, snow and more snow – it has all been very festive, but until last week it looked like the thaw had arrived and spring as around the corner. Then on Friday…snow flurries! More snow! It turned out to be just a light dusting, but the cold weather is back with us for a while.

I realised that all my posts so far have been sweet treats, but that cold weather calls for something warm and filling. The time has come to try a pumpkin soup recipe I picked up in Denmark in December 2008, but using butternut squash in place of pumpkin. I find Pumpkin looses its colour when cooked and turns pale yellow, whereas butternut squash keeps its great luminous orange colour. To top off the soup, I toasted some pumpkin seeds in the oven with oil and spices to add a little extra crunch and flavour.

When you can eat things like this, cold weather has some appeal!

HOW TO MAKE IT

• olive oil
• 1 butternut squash
• 3 white onions
• 3 fat cloves of garlic
• sea salt
• freshly ground pepper
• 1.5 litres water
1-2 tablespoons of plain yoghurt or cream (optional)

Heat the olive oil and all the finely chopped onions and garlic. Add a pinch of salt and black pepper to taste. Sautée gently for 15 minutes, until the onions are light brown and caramelised. In the meantime, peel the squash, remove the seeds, and chop into small pieces. Once the onions are cooked, add the chunks of squash and cook for a further five minutes. Add the water, and leave on a medium heat (not boiling) until the squash pieces are soft. Once the soup in ready, blend the soup until smooth. That’s it – but if you like, add a couple of spoonfuls of plain yoghurt or cream and stir well.

For the pumpkin seed topping: mix 100g of shelled pumpkin seeds in a tablespoon of olive oil, and add salt, ground pepper and whatever spices you like (I used curry powder, cumin and paprika). Mix well and cook on a baking sheet at 200 degrees centigrade until the seeds are well toasted. Remove from the oven, allow to cool briefly, and add a generous spoonful to each bowl of soup before serving.

WOULD I MAKE IT AGAIN?

100% yes. This is a really easy recipe and tastes great. The slow cooking of the onions makes it quite sweet, but this goes nicely with the spicy seeds and crusty wholemeal bread.

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