Oh yes, it’s that lovely time of the year when small children dress up and shout boo to each other through the dark. Along with the changing of the clocks, Halloween marks the full launch into deep autumn.
I’m definitely not a Halloween naysayer as the kids round my way are super cute and super polite. We only ever get trick or treaters who are on their best behaviour, so it’s actually kind of a joy when they come round (especially the tiny little ones who really have no idea what’s going on).
There’s a bit of an unspoken code in our neighbourhood… Children will only come knocking if you have Halloween paraphernalia lining the path or lighting up the door. We have a particularly spooky path as it winds underneath some big trees and for small legs the front door seems a long way from the main footpath. We therefore normally have a couple of jack-o-lanterns to guide children to the right place.
This also means there are lots of pumpkin hanging around, which to me says one thing: Halloween pumpkin soup!
Soup really is a perfect batch cooking option, especially as it’s one of those dishes that keeps on giving. It’s often better the day after as the flavours develop AND it freezes well. I think that’s a win-win?
It’s also great food for chillier autumn weather, especially with some comforting spices thrown in. My Halloween version has a couple of secret ingredients for a bit of extra oomph: white miso paste and smoked garlic. White miso is sweeter than the brown version, and adds a gentle umami aftertaste (plus a little pleasurant sweet-sourness). And the smoked garlic? Well that’s just all-round delicious.
So get carving and soup-making. This one is definitely a treat!
Spooky Smoked Halloween Pumpkin Soup
Vegan & Gluten Free – Serves 4
Half a big pumpkin, deseeded & chopped into wedges (about 1kg)
1.5 tsp cumin seeds
Good glug of extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for frying onion and fennel
Generous sprinkle of sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
1 medium onion, roughly chopped
2 big cloves of smoked garlic, roughly chopped
1 medium fennel bulb, chopped (hard base and any very tough skin removed)
400-500ml vegetable stock (depends on how watery your pumpkin is)
1 tsp ground coriander
160ml coconut cream
1.5 tbsp white miso paste (I use Clearspring)
Sea salt & black pepper to season
Top with a few pumpkin seeds and a drizzle of good extra virgin olive oil
1. Pre-heat your oven to 160°C (140°C fan). Pop your pumpkin wedges in a baking tray, scatter over the cumin seeds, salt and pepper, and the olive oil. Use your hands to coat the pumpkin well. Put the pumpkin in the oven and roast for 40 minutes, giving the tray a shake a few times. Take the pumpkin out of the oven and put to the side to cool a little.
2. Gently heat a splash of extra virgin olive oil in a medium heavy based saucepan. Add the onion and garlic, and fry for a few minutes until the onion starts to soften. Add the fennel (and a little water if needed) and fry for another 5-10 minutes to soften.
3. Cut or scoop the pumpkin flesh from the skin and put into the saucepan along with the ground coriander. Give everything a good mix before pouring over the stock. Bring the mix to a simmer and cook for 10-15 minutes (the vegetables should be nice and soft). Put the vegetable mix in a blender and puree.
4. Pour back into the saucepan and put over a low heat. Add the coconut cream and miso paste. Stir them both through and cook for another few minutes. Check the seasoning (add a little pepper and salt if needed) and serve!
Serve in your favourite soup bowl with a sprinkle of pumpkin seeds and drizzle of olive oil
Other flavour options:
– Add 1/2 tsp chilli flakes for some extra autumn spice
– Add a splash of balsamic vinegar or a little lemon juice for an extra layer of flavour
– Use regular garlic instead of smoked garlic
– Swap the pumpkin for butternut squash – or you could substitute half for sweet potato
– The fennel adds a nice sweetness (but not too much aniseedy flavour) – however if you can’t hold of some, just add another onion
So what will yours be – trick or treat?