Pumpkin season is upon us, and what better way to make use of this seasonal ingredient than by rustling up a warming soup? Fiona Beverley shows us how.
As we approach Halloween, pumpkins start appearing in our shops in hoards – a glut of this delicious food, perfect for bulking up hearty meals as the weather gets colder. Rather than enjoying this cheap food, however, 95% of UK pumpkins are used for carving, and in the UK alone 8 million pumpkins are discarded after Halloween, with only a third of pumpkin purchasers cooking the edible innards. So why should we rescue these pumpkins off the shelves and eat them?
Pumpkins have many health benefits:
- Pumpkin is a type of winter squash and is technically a fruit, although is nutritionally more similar to a vegetable than a fruit. It tastes great, but is also packed with nutrients that you won’t want to miss out on.
- Vitamin A – vitamin A is important for healthy vision throughout your life and the normal function of your immune system. Pumpkins also contain high levels of beta-carotene (the reason they are orange), which helps the body absorb this highly important vitamin.
- Antioxidants – Antioxidants are important for reducing oxidative stress in your body, potentially reducing your risk of chronic illness, such as heart disease and cancer.
- Immune-boosting nutrients – Pumpkins are packed with vitamins such as vitamins C and E, as well as iron and folate. All of these play important roles in boosting your immune system – especially important around this time of year.
- Fibre – Diets high in fibre have been linked to a lower risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and cancer. Not only this, but having a healthy gut is also linked to better mental health, so high-fibre diets are very important for all-round health.
The environmental waste charity Hubbub, found that more than half of Halloween pumpkin buyers in the UK would welcome recipes to help them make more of the leftovers, so here are two of our favourites. If you have any waste from your pumpkins, make sure to compost it or throw it in your food-waste bin.
How to make pumpkin soup
200ml vegetable stock
100ml cream or soy cream
1tbsp butter or vegetable spread for vegan option
3-4 garlic cloves
Salt and pepper
- Preheat the oven to 200 degrees
- Cut the pumpkin in half, remove the seeds (don’t chuck!) and pith and cut the halves into three each.
- Score a crisscross pattern into the quarters and place on a baking tray
- Drizzle olive oil the the pumpkin and season with salt and pepper
- Roast for 30 minutes until soft when poked
- While the pumpkin is cooking, dice the onion and garlic and fry until softened in a saucepan
- Add the vegetable stock and leave simmering until the pumpkin is done
- Remove the pumpkin from the oven and leave to cool enough to touch it
- Cut away the flesh from the skin of the pumpkin and dice into inch cubes
- Add to vegetable stock and onion mix and pour in the (soy) cream
- Blend (handheld blender will work fine)
- Add salt and pepper to taste and serve
This soup will last in the freezer for several months, or stored in the fridge for around a week.
To use the seeds:
- Wash using a colander and remove the pith (the orange gooey bit) from them.
- Dry the seeds
- In a bowl, coat the seeds in olive oil, salt and any other seasoning (I love a little curry seasoning for this).
- Spread on a baking tray and cook until crunchy and very lightly browned (around 20-30 minutes). Make sure not to burn! Enjoy as a healthy snack or in salad.
Discover more ideas for what to do with your pumpkin waste after carving.
Try Melissa Hemsley‘s Squash Soup with Crispy Sage.
Find more seasonal and low-waste recipes.