Try and find a tasty pumpkin (i.e. not one of the huge varieties grown to make lanterns) or failing that a butternut squash will do. This makes an absolutely delicious starter or lunch served with some crusty bread.
Roasted pumpkin and thyme soup – to serve 4
- 1.5kg unpeeled pumpkin, or butternut squash
- sunflower oil
- 40g butter
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- leaves from 4 small sprigs of thyme, plus a few extra to garnish
- 1.2 litres vegetable stock
- 150ml single cream
- 75g Gruyère cheese, coarsely grated
Preheat the oven to 200ºC/Gas Mark 6.
Cut the pumpkin into chunky wedges and scoop out the fibres and seeds. Rub with oil, season well with salt and pepper and put into a small roasting tin, skin-side down. Roast for 30 minutes or until tender.
When the pumpkin has cooled down a bit, slice away and discard the skin and cut the flesh into small chunks.
Melt the butter in a large saucepan, add the onion and half the thyme leaves and cook gently for about 10 minutes or until very soft but not browned. Add the roasted pumpkin, any pumpkin juice from the plate, the stock and ½tsp of salt. Cover and simmer gently for 20 minutes.
Leave the soup to cool slightly, then blend with the rest of the thyme leaves until smooth. Return to a clean pan and bring back to a gentle simmer. Stir in the cream and adjust the seasoning if necessary. Serve in warm bowls with a pile of grated cheese and a few thyme leaves in the centre.
(Original recipe from Rick Stein’s French Odyssey, BBC Books, 2005.)