Spiced pumpkin and lentil soup

I do hate Halloween. I think it’s the coward in me. Even my two year old nephew is braver; he loves to search for dragons in the coat cupboard. Personally, why would I want to be reminded that witches and ghouls could be flying about at night? Especially when I have to walk the dog in the dark. ‘Such an Americanism’, my mother would say.

Yet goblins and warlocks aside, All Hallows’ Eve does have its plus points. A bit of hideous Halloween orange for example, can go a long way in the kitchen. The fun of carving out and lighting your pumpkin is quite good; you can create gruesomely iced pumpkin cakes and biscuits, while the event itself does make a great excuse for fancy dress, which can never be a bad thing can it?

Let’s not forget pumpkin soup either. An Autumn stalwart, its soul warming qualities shouldn’t be underestimated. Especially when it’s mixed with a little (or a lot of) spice.

So next Wednesday evening while you're out there having a ball, I’ll probably be at home, hiding in the coat cupboard with the dragon and looking forward to bonfire night. Burning a staked imaginary man on a fire? Equally scary, but in a traditionally twisted British way.

Spiced pumpkin soup

This also works brilliantly with butternut squash. You can omit the spice if you like but it really is much better for it.

Equipment:Large heavy based saucepan
Sharp knife
Chopping board
Big wooden spoon
Hand blender or potato masher

2lbs fresh pumpkin, chopped into large chunks (this is a small - medium sized one)
150g red split lentils
3 tbsp olive oil (not extra virgin)
1 clove garlic, chopped finely
1 medium sized knuckle fresh ginger, grated finely
1 tbsp rogan josh curry paste (I use Pataks)
1 tbsp brown sugar
1tbsp Swiss bouillon stock powder (Gluten free)
3 pints water
Salt and pepper
1. Put the pan on a medium - high heat and heat the oil. Once hot, add the pumpkin and fry off, stirring for five minutes. Add the curry pate and allow to coat the pumpkin all over, keep stirring for two minutes, the pan should be making a noise if hot enough. The idea is to 'roast' off the veg and the spices to bring out their flavour.

2. Now add your garlic, ginger, sugar and the water, you can then add the stock powder. Bring up to a simmer and add your lentils.
3. Once simmered for 20 minutes remove any scum from the lentils and check your pumpkin for softness. It may need 5-10 more minutes to become soft.
4. Season the soup then blitz with a blender. If you don't have one you can use a potato masher.Check for consistency, you could add a little more water if it's too thick.

When you serve it you can add freshly chopped coriander to the top, or a little coconut milk swirled in would also go well. Enjoy!


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