I am always surprised when people tell me they didn’t realise you can eat all those pumpkins that get carved into lanterns at Halloween. Of course you can – flesh, pulp and seeds. It is all good. You can use any basic soup recipe but this one is vegan and includes making emergency stock just from onion peel, so it is very cheap and efficient.
To make a large pot of soup
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 5 onions
- 1 or 2 pumpkins – flesh and pulp scraped out – keep seeds for roasting
- 2. litres of water
- a selection of herbs, such as parsley, lovage, celery leaves, fennel leaves, thyme, rosemary, any combination and amount
- cayenne pepper or chilli powder
Firstly peel and chop the onions and pop the peel and the ends into a pan large enough to hold 2. litres of water. Add the water and bring to the boil.
While that is going on, sweat the onion in a frying pan for a few minutes and remove from the heat. Chop up your pumpkin flesh into chunks so that it cooks a bit quicker, then go foraging in your store cupboard or the garden for whatever herbs you can find.
Once your onion peel is boiling, turn down the heat and allow to simmer for about 25 to 30 minutes. Strain this into another large pan and discard the onion peel in your food waste bin or compost caddy.
Split the liquid between your two large pans and add half your fried onion to one and half to the other. Split the pumpkin chunks, pulp and herbs between the 2 pans, bring them to the boil again, then turn down to simmer. Add in the cayenne pepper or chilli powder. You might want to be cautious at first and add just a teaspoon as you can always add more.
Cook until the pumpkin is soft, which will be around 20 minutes. Stir and taste every now and then to check for spiciness and add a little more if you want to increase the heat. Remove the herbs before blitzing with a hand blender: if you mix green and orange you get brown, and I think that pumpkin soup looks nicer when it stays orange.
Taste the soup and season with salt and black pepper and a little more spice if needed. You can sprinkle some chopped herbs on the top and some people like to add a swirl of cream too.