After a glorious autumn the pumpkins have ripened well.  I left them in the pumpkin patch to catch as many sun rays as possible.

I

harvested them just before a spell of rain was forecast because I didn’t want them to get too wet.  The leaves were also beginning to rot.  A handy tip is to leave the stalk and part of the stem attached like a handle when you harvest the pumpkins to stop any decay spreading to the fruit.

I leave them in a tray in the greenhouse to properly dry out for a couple of weeks before putting then in the cellar.  They will last for months in a cool dry place.

We grew two varieties: Winter Festival  which has fairly small fruits  – around the size of a honeydew melon.  The largest weighs just under 1 kilogram.  They are not the traditional, bright orange halloween pumpkins but what they lack in size they make up for in flavour.  They’re also much more manageable being small – we cut them into quarters and roast them as a side dish.  We had eighteen fruit from just three plants.  The butternut squash – hawk – has not done so well: only four fruit from its three plants.  There’s more from the pumpkin patch here.

Pumpkin soup may not fully compensate for the cold, short days of winter but it comes pretty close.  It’s nutty and sweet and compliments many other flavours such as bacon, coconut and orange.  This recipe combines it with nutmeg and cream.  There’s also a cheeky splash of marsala wine – medicinal of course…

Pumpkin Soup

IMG_2409 soupServes 2

  • 1 butternut squash or small pumpkin
  • light olive oil or rapeseed oil
  • 1 large onion chopped.
  • 25g butter
  • 500ml good quality stock – chicken or vegetable
  • level tsp grated nutmeg
  • 1 tbsp double cream
  • dry marsala wine or sherry (optional)

 

Method
Heat the oven to 180C, gas mark 5.  Cut the pumpkin into wedges.  Remove any seeds but leave the skin on. Drizzle with the olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Bake in the oven for 40 minutes until the pumpkin starts to caramelise and is soft. Remove from the oven and peel off the skin.  It should come away easily and is much easier than trying to peel the pumpkin when it is raw.

Fry the onion in the butter over a low heat so it softens but does not go brown.  Add the roasted pumpkin flesh, grated nutmeg and the stock.  Bring to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes.  Liquidise and adjust any seasoning to taste.  Stir through the cream but don’t let it boil.  Serve in bowls and add a “splash” of marsala to taste…