When I was a kid, we always used a big knobbly turnip to make the scary lantern we carried from door-to-door (rehearsing our little song or poem along the way - nobody got away with simply telling a joke back then!) in the hope that we would get some sweets, a tangerine, a few monkey nuts and maybe even a few sixpenny bits for our efforts!
What a relief it is now that we have generally accepted the American habit of using a pumpkin rather than a turnip as they were mighty hard to scoop out and carve!
And of course, the huge advantage here is that all that pumpkin flesh you laboriously scoop out can be turned into a deliciously spicy soup, a warming curry or a mash!
Super-Smooth Pumpkin and Sage Soup
(makes 4 bowls)
Boy is this good - my resident soup tasters have given it top, top, top marks! I started using sage when roasting pumpkin and/or squash in the oven and decided that it was such a great marriage that it was time to experiment and make a soup that celebrates this perfect pairing and not only is it a delight to look at with the chilli and sage topping but it also tastes divine!
1 red chilli, de-seeded and very finely diced
10 sage leaves, finely sliced (4 for the topping, 6 for the soup)
Light olive oil
500g pumpkin flesh - just chop it up - doesn't matter how roughly!
500mls chicken or vegetable stock
1 medium onion, peeled and very finely sliced or diced
Pinch of sugar
1 level tablespoon cornflour
150mls double cream
50g soft butter
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
- Sauté the chilli and 4 of the sliced sage leaves in a little olive oil until both are slightly crisp around the edges then remove from the pan to a small plate, cover and set aside.
- Sauté the pumpkin in 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a medium-sized soup pot until lightly coloured and ever-so-slightly caramelised.
- Add the stock, onion and sugar, bring slowly to the boil, quickly turn the heat to very low and simmer for 15 minutes before turning off the heat and allowing the soup to cool a little.
- In a bowl, mix the cornflour into the cream and whisk until smooth then very gradually add to the pot, stirring all the time.
- Bring the soup very slowly back to the boil, stirring continually until it slightly thickens then turn off the heat and stir in the rest of the sage.
- Transfer the soup to a blender with the butter and lemon juice and whizz until really smooth and frothy then return to a clean pot (through a fine sieve), season to taste with salt and white pepper and very gently reheat until piping hot.
- Serve with the chilli/sage topping.
- NB: white pepper powder is a great deal more pungent than black pepper so watch how you go - add it pinch by pinch until you are happy with the result!