Halloween Soup

A somewhat piratical-looking Halloween lantern.

Him indoors put mint into a salad the other day, which was a pleasant surprise.

So, I started to think about other unexpected combinations using mint… and since it’s Halloween and we all have to think of something to do with the inside of the pumpkin, here’s a recipe for pumpkin and mint soup.

If you have time, it’s worth making your own veggie stock. Simply wash and save in a bag in the fridge the outside layers of your onions, and the peel and stalky bits that you cut off your veggies. Once you have about enough to half fill a medium sized saucepan you have enough to make a litre of stock.

Place these unloved bits of veg in your saucepan with enough water to just cover them. Add a little salt and pepper and a sprinkle of herbs such as oregano, basil and thyme. Bring to the boil and then simmer for about 45 minutes to an hour. Allow it to cool and pour the liquid through a sieve into a jug – there’s your veggie stock. If you have bones left over from a meat dish, such as a chicken carcass from Sunday roast, you can throw that in with your veg cuttings to make a meat stock.

Ingredients for the pumpkin and mint soup for 4 people

The flesh of one medium-sized or 2 small pumpkins

A piece of ginger root about the size of your thumb, sliced very thinly

Enough fresh mint leaves to fill a coffee mug without squashing them.

Salt and pepper.

1 litre vegetable stock.

Enough cooking oil to cover the bottom of a medium sized saucepan

What to do. …roughly speaking:

 Getting the flesh out of a pumpkin isn’t easy, especially if you want to keep the outside of pumpkin to make a lantern, so give yourself plenty of time. First, scoop out the seeds and stringy bits. (You can set the seeds aside, clean off the fibres and roast the seeds gently in the oven with a little oil and salt for a snack, or to sprinkle on salads or cooked green veg such as broccoli).

Then scoop out the flesh from the pumpkin and chop it into small pieces. If you don’t plan to make a lantern this is easier if you cut the pumpkin into quarters or even smaller pieces and simply remove the skin, and it’s even easier still if you pop the pumpkin in the oven for 15 minutes, let it cool and then slice and peel it.

Cover the bottom of a saucepan with a thin layer of oil (I used basic olive oil), heat the oil and before it gets smoky drop in the pumpkin. Keep the pumpkin moving to coat it with oil and start frying it gently. After frying the pumpkin for about 5 minutes, add the sliced ginger root and keep moving it around for another 3 or 4 minutes.

Pour your veggie stock over the pumpkin and ginger and add the mint leaves. Bring it to the boil, turn down the heat, put a lid on the pan and simmer very gently for about 20 minutes. Taste one of the bits of pumpkin to make sure that it’s melt-in-your-mouth tender. Check the seasoning level in the broth and add more salt and pepper if you like.

When the pumpkin is cooked, let it cool for a few minutes before whizzing it with a wand blender to meld all the flavours.

You can serve the soup hot or cold.

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