Did you know that only 1 in 9 people regularly cook their decorative pumpkins, and 40% of people aren't even aware that you can eat them?!
Pumpkins can smell a little funny on carving, but don't let this put you off - once cooked they are a delicious, nutritious and cheap food that can be used to bulk out a variety of dishes. They taste similar to butternut squashes or sweet potatoes, and you can even eat the seeds!
It's estimated that £32 million worth of pumpkins will go to waste in 2022, which is shocking especially given the current cost-of-living crisis! Why not turn yours into a lovely soup at no extra cost? If you're not ready to cook your pumpkin right now then simply chop it up and freeze until you have the time!
This soup recipe uses leftover veg meaning you can adapt it to what you have at home that needs using first. I like to make a weekly habit of going through my fridge, chopping up and freezing any veg which is nearing the end of it's life - this way I'm saving money on my next shop and preventing waste.
There's no need to blanch or pre-cook your produce before freezing, some recommend it for improved flavour but I've never noticed a difference. I use old takeaway containers or Nom Nom Pouches to store my veg. I typically do this right before I go food shopping so I know what I need. There's nothing more frustrating than realising you wasted money on something that simply went off because you didn't eat it in time.
There really is no limit on the veg that can be used! I almost always add potatoes as I rarely get through a large bag, and they help to bulk out any soup for cost-efficiency without compromising on flavour. In the past I've used broccoli, aubergine, spinach, parsnips, courgette, garlic and swede - once you understand the basics of a soup, this recipe can easily be customised to suit the leftover veg you have that week!
If you're adding plant-based cream, then simply stir it in at the end - don't boil it! I find it's best to add to individual bowls as needed, as the soup freezes better without cream in it.
- 3 tablespoons plant-based butter
- 2 onions
- Leftover veg (I used carrots, potatoes, green beans and caulifower)
- Medium-sized pumpkin
- 1.5L vegetable stock (you can even use gluten-free stock cubes)
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp paprika
- Salt & pepper
- Olive oil
- Plant-based cream alternative (optional) - I used Alpro single soya
- 1 tbsp sugar (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 200C/180C fan/gas mark 6.
- Dice the onion and chop your large leftover veg into 1-2cm cubes. I cut my green beans in half and my cauliflower into medium florets.
- De-seed your pumpkin, putting the seeds to one side for later. Peel and chop into 2cm cubes.
- Melt the butter in a large saucepan, and add your onions, leftover veg and pumpkin. Cook for around 3-5 minutes, stirring regularly.
- Add your cumin, paprika and sugar, cooking for another 5 minutes, stirring regularly, until lightly browned.
- Add the vegetable stock and boil for 15 minutes, until the veg is soft all the way through.
- Whilst this is boiling, place a small pan of water on the stove to boil, and wash your pumpkin seeds until clean.
- Boil the pumpkin seeds for 8-10 minutes, then drain and pat dry.
- Place the seeds in a baking tray, lightly oil and season as required, then shake them into a thin layer on the tray. Place in the oven for 5-10 minutes until golden brown.
- Take the soup vegetables off the heat and blend. I find a stick blender best for this, blend to your desired consistency - I chose super smooth.
- Place the soup back on a low heat and season as desired. You can add more water or stock at this point if it is too thick. It really depends on the amount and types of vegetables used, so each batch can vary.
- Serve the soup hot, mixing in your cream as desired, and sprinkling with pumpkin seeds. The seeds are also delicious on their own as a snack!
- You'll likely have leftover soup, so portion it up into Nom Nom Reusable Pouches and freeze!