Spicy Pumpkin Soup with Cheesy Toasts

Soups are simple, doable and tasty. This can be made with butternut squash too. Be really fancy pants and serve in tiny little pumpkins. If not, bowls are just as good. 

Never one to be completely on time with anything, I'm afraid to say I missed on the goulish, penny-sweet-laden and pumpkin-ish Halloween bandwagon last week. The bandwagon steamed right past without me noticing. No sexy witch/ cat/ pumpkin outfit for me panic bought on Amazon or arising with an agonising punch hangover and black face paint over those once white bed sheets. One thing I am pleased to say I am still on time with are pumpkins and butternut squashes.

Autumn brings a bounty of fleshy, earthy and filling root veg which not only taste great, they last aaaaages in the cupboard or fridge. Which is another reason I figure it's finer than fine to share this recipe with you this week. Pumpkins and squashes are EVERYWHERE, and nice and cheap because of that. Pumpkins and squashes are very similar, both with a soft, nutty and buttery taste. The squash is ever so slightly sweeter and smoother, in case you were wondering the difference.

They make excellent soup because they have such a comfort factor to them and are robust so can carry a good hit of spice. I'm actually not that big a fan of spicy food. But it's somehow needed in this soup. I was also up against a pumpkin/ squash hater at the dining table. Insanity I know. My dad declared that he hated pumpkin. Based on the solid foundation that he thought 'it may taste like marrow'....! Ever rising to the challenge to convert a food hater, I wanted to convince him otherwise with this soup. It worked. So get down to the green grocer, try not to trip over the root veg, I tell you it will be everywhere and make a soup everyone will like. Well in time for Halloween 2016.

Note: You can get these little pumpkins at this time of year - mine were from Lidl of all places.  They are a bit tricky to actually eat - looking better as a table decoration or serving vessel as I have done. So what I did is use one separate large pumpkin to make the soup and just carved the little ones out for serving.

This soup lasts up to 3 days in the fridge or can be frozen and lasts up to 3 months.

Approx 1.75 kg butternut squash or pumpkin

2 garlic cloves crushed or finely chopped

1 onion sliced

5 medium sized carrots chopped roughly

2 tsp ground coriander

1 tsp dried chilli flakes

Olive oil

1 tbsp butter

800ml chicken or veg stock

Salt and pepper

Creme fraiche for serving

For the cheesy toasts - (quantity really depends on how greedy you are!).  Bread for toasting and a couple of handfuls of grated cheese. I used parmesan and a mature cheddar. Stilton would be nice too.

1. Peel and chop the pumpkin/ squash into approx 2cm cubes (rough chopping is fine!)

2) Heat a good glug of olive oil in a large heavy bottom pan and add the garlic and onion. Cook until soft on a medium/ low heat.

3) Add the butter and wait until melted.Add in the coriander and chilli flakes and stir. Cook for 5 minutes.

4) Add the carrots and chopped squash and stir until coated in the oil and spice mix. Add the stock, bring to the boil. Turn the heat down and cover.

5) Cook until the veg is soft. You test this by poking in a knife to the veg, if it feels soft or falls apart it is done.

6) Put the mixture in a liquidiser or liquidise with a hand blender until smooth.

7) If serving in tiny pumpkins, you can serve with round cheesy toasts. First toast the bread, then cut into rounds - just stamp the rounds out with an upside down mug. Cover in cheese and grill. If not, just make regular cheese on toast.

7) Serve the soup in the hollowed out tiny pumpkins with the rounds on  top or serve in bowls with chunky cheesy toasts on the side and a dollop of creme fraiche.