Autumn days wouldn’t be the same without the occasional bowl of comforting pumpkin soup for lunch, and on Bonfire night, I cradle a steaming mug of soup to keep my hands warm while I watch fireworks. I know it’s tempting to just buy a tub of ‘fresh’ soup, but this recipe is really so quick, easy and nutritious that you can’t go wrong.
I often look at soup recipes and discover I’m missing a crucial ingredient, but the beauty of this recipe is that the ingredients are truly store cupboard essentials (ginger, turmeric, black pepper, lentils, onions, garlic, coconut milk and stock). It also importantly enables me to put the leftover Halloween pumpkins to good use.
The recipe is nutritious and great for immune system support, mainly due to the large amounts of Vitamin A (in the form of beta-carotene) it contains. The other ingredients also benefit the immune system but in different ways – antimicrobial onions, garlic and coconut and anti-inflammatory turmeric and ginger. If you can, opt for purple onions for their higher antioxidant levels, and choose homemade chicken stock, which in itself is immensely nourishing and immune supportive. Lentils and pumpkin seeds are two of the best plant sources of zinc, another crucial nutrient for the immune system – so it’s worth making the effort to roast the pumpkin seeds to scatter on top of the soup (they’re not just a pointless garnish!)
Contrary to popular belief, pumpkins are also a great vegetable to use if you’re trying to maintain a healthy blood sugar level; they’re a low Glycaemic Load veg – the type of fibre they contain helps to lower blood sugar but also improves the action of insulin. Adding red lentils to the soup adds more fibre and protein, so that a large bowl for lunch can be a meal in itself. If you’re serving the soup as part of a larger meal, simply serve smaller portions.
Given that I’m inherently lazy, the very thought of peeling pumpkins with a vegetable peeler is enough to put me off a recipe, so for this soup I don’t bother, and instead cut the pumpkin into large wedges with the skin on, and roast in the oven. It’s then really easy to just scoop the flesh off the skin and add directly into the soup. Alternatively if your pumpkin skin is thin, you can just add the chunks as they are – although you may need to blend the soup in a processor rather than with a stick blender for a smooth consistency.
I also find that recipes asking for ‘exactly’ 800g of pumpkin flesh are a pain, so my recommendation is to just weigh your whole pumpkin – if it’s much more or less than the weight of the pumpkin in our recipe then don’t worry too much, but just adjust the volume of liquid up or down as needed.
I usually make up a large batch of this and freeze in individual portions for those times when I need food but the cupboards are bare.
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