Not quite pumpkin soup

Halloween happened, and hot on the heels of the spooky chili comes a spicy not quite pumpkin soup.  Pumpkins sold for decoration really don’t have much flavour at all, so we use butternut squash instead (don’t waste the scrapings from your pumpkin though, they can all go in to add bulk and a nice colour, just don’t put in any seeds or stringy bits).

  • 2 butternut squash
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 1 can reduced fat coconut milk
  • 1 tablespoon Thai curry paste (yellow for a milder flavour, red or green if you’re going for hot-hot-hot)
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 500ml boiling water and one vegetable stock cube ( we like mushroom)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Cut the squash in half lengthways and scoop out the seeds and stringy bits.  Brush the cut sides with one tablespoon of the olive oil and put on a baking tray with the cut sides uppermost. Roast in a medium oven for about 40 minutes, or until the flesh is soft. Poke it with a knife to test.

Put the other tablespoon of oil in a large solid saucepan and soften the onions over a low heat for about 15 minutes.  Don’t let them stick or go brown.  Add the curry paste and paprika and stir it all about.

Meantime, scoop all the flesh from the squash and add it to the pan.  Nigella Lawson maintains that you can eat the skin of  roasted butternut squash but I’m not convinced.  If you have any pumpkin scrapings, now is the time to add them.  Pour over the coconut milk and the 500ml of boiling veg stock, give it all a stir and let it simmer for 20 minutes.  Test the pumpkin flesh after this time to see if it’s softened.  Take the pan off the heat if it’s all nice and soft, and blitz with a stick blender to a nice smooth consistency.  If it feels a bit too solid, you can add more stock.  Taste and add salt if needed, and several grinds of black pepper.  Serve with croutons and a swirl of sour cream.

This soup is vegetarian (but do check the ingredients in your curry paste – some contain anchovy), and vegan if you leave out the sour cream.

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a pan containing chocolate chili

spooky chocolate chili sin carne

A staple of our Halloween parties, and (whisper it quietly) also vegan. It’s completely inauthentic but very tasty.

  • 3 red onions, choppeda pan containing chocolate chili
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 3 carrots, chopped
  • 3 sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 3 pointed peppers, deseeded and chopped
  • 3 small red chilis, deseeded and chopped
  • 2 tins chopped tomatoes
  • 1x200g tin sweetcorn
  • 2x400g tins red kidney beans
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • salt and pepper
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 2 mushroom stock cubes dissolved in 500ml boiling water
  • 3 tablespoons red lentils
  • 50g dark chocolate

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan and add the onions. Sweat the onions gently until they are soft but not coloured.  Add the crushed cloves of garlic and all the chopped vegetables,  add the smoked paprika and stir it all around. Put a lid on the pan and leave the veg to simmer for about 20 minutes. Then add the chopped tomatoes, the stock, the sweetcorn and the red lentils and leave to simmer again for a further 20 minutes. Taste and see if it needs any more chili.  Add the kidney beans and the dark chocolate, broken up into pieces. Simmer again for a further 20 minutes, this time with the lid off.  Season with ground black pepper (you may not need salt depending on how salty the stock cubes are), and a squeeze of lime juice.