A tasty Hallowe’en treat

The nights are drawing in, the clocks went back last weekend (for us in the UK), and whether you celebrate Hallowe’en or not it’s definitely the time of year when we all start to hunker down at home and need some more warmth in our lives. As a slightly different post this week I’m sharing my recipe for squash and red pepper soup, which not only is deliciously warming but also gives you a way of putting the innards of a Hallowe’en pumpkin to good use!

Squash and red pepper soup

Serves 4 – takes about an hour if you’re not going to carve the pumpkin afterwards, slightly longer if you want to preserve the pumpkin shell!

Ingredients

You will need:

  • 1 medium butternut squash, or 2 small cooking pumpkins (you can also use the flesh from a larger pumpkin but it won’t be quite as flavourful)
  • 2 red peppers, de-seeded and cut into 3 or 4 large slices
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil (I used rapeseed)
  • 1 white onion, chopped
  • 1 leek, chopped
  • 1.5 pints (about 850ml) vegetable stock
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Method

  • Preheat the oven to 200°C/Gas Mark 7.
  • For the pumpkin: cut off the top, scoop out the seeds (you can roast them and eat them if you wish) and carefully remove as much flesh as you can from the inside. If you’re not planning on carving your pumpkin afterwards, or are using a butternut squash, chop the squash into manageable pieces to remove the skin from the flesh. Cut up the flesh into bitesize cubes and place in a roasting tin.
  • Add the chopped red pepper to the tin, then drizzle over 1 tbsp vegetable oil along with 1 tsp cumin, some salt and pepper. Ensure that the oil and spice mix covers the vegetables well, then roast in the oven for 30 minutes or until the squash is tender and the peppers’ skin has blistered.
  • When the squash and peppers have 5-10 minutes left to go in the oven, using a large saucepan fry the chopped onion and leek gently in the remaining tablespoon of vegetable oil. When the onion and leek are starting to soften, add a teaspoon of cumin to the pan and fry for another minute.
  • Once the roasted vegetables are ready, peel the skin off the peppers and chop them into bitesize pieces. Add the stock, squash and red pepper to the saucepan with the onions and leeks and simmer for 10 minutes to allow the flavours to fuse.
  • Take the soup off the heat and carefully blend using either a jug or stick blender. Serve with freshly ground black pepper and crusty bread and butter or a tasty cheese scone.

I’m not a very frequent pumpkin carver, and this was the first time I’ve carved a pumpkin with the intention of using the flesh for something else. A sharp metal ice-cream scoop did the job well and resulted more in squash “flakes” rather than bitesize pieces. Nevertheless, we still managed to get enough flesh from the two small cooking pumpkins to make the soup work, and with a couple of homemade cheese scones from the BBC Good Food website (made while the vegetables were roasting in the oven) it made for an excellent autumn dinner!

Let me know in the comments if you try the recipe out – I hope you enjoy it!

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