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There is definitely a nip in the air these last few nights, as we close in on Halloween with winter close behind. The farmers markets are bursting with richly colourful vegetables and every variety, shape and size of pumpkin. With my basket full of the finest organic produce, grown by 14-year-old Ella Quinn of Castleruddery Organic Farm, I was inspired to turn it into steamy bowls of delicious nourishment. This recipe makes a huge pot of soup – enough for about 10-12 people. The flavour improves with time and it will keep for a few days in the fridge. It freezes really well, too. Pumpkins, part of the winter squash family, are an excellent source of carotenes – the richer the colour the higher the concentration. They are also great for vitamin C, potassium, dietary fibre and a host of other goodies.

Serves 10–12 

Lightly Spiced Pumpkin, Red Lentil and Coconut Soup

  • 80 grams red lentils
  • 1 kilo prepared pumpkin, diced small 300 grams
  • 1 large) onion, finely diced
  • 1 stick celery, finely diced
  • 100 grams ginger, finely grated
  • 80 grams (4 cloves) garlic, finely grated
  • 4 teaspoons toasted cumin seeds, freshly ground
  • 1 level teaspoon turmeric
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon cardamom
  • 1200 ml chicken or vegetable stock (2-3 Kallo stock cubes)
  • 2 x 400 gram cans coconut milk
  • 4 tablespoons lemon juice
  • Sea salt and freshly crushed pepper
  • Coriander to garnish

Chilli and Garlic Bruschetta

  • One slice of sourdough or GF bread per serving
  • ½ clove cut garlic
  • ½ red chilli, finely sliced in rings
  • Good quality olive oil
  • Soup
  • Family Friendly
  • Vegetarian
  • Low GI
  • Vegan
  • Diabetic Friendly
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Method

  1. Rinse the lentils in a sieve under a cold tap.
  2. To make soup, place a large saucepan over medium heat. Add oil, then garlic and cook for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Add ginger and cook for another 30 seconds to 1 minute, then add onion and celery, cover with a lid and sauté until soft and translucent, about 10 minutes.
  3. Add spices and cook for 1 minute, next add lentils and mix into onion mixture. Stir in the pumpkin and stock.
  4. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer gently for 20 to 30 minutes or until pumpkin and lentils are soft.
  5. Remove the saucepan from heat and puree until smooth. Add coconut milk and bring soup back to a simmer, stirring gently. Add lemon juice and seasoning. Taste to check that you have the right balance. Divide soup between bowls and serve the chilli and garlic bruschetta on the side (optional).

Method: Chilli and Garlic Bruschetta

  1. Using your fingers rub olive oil lightly over both sides of bread.
  2. Cut garlic clove in half and rub over both sides of bread.
  3. Sprinkle 3-4 rings of finely sliced chilli on one side of bread.
  4. Heat a char-grill pan until very hot. Place chilli side of bread straight on to pan and char-grill for 1-2 minutes until slightly blackened, then repeat for the other side. Remove from heat, set aside on a wire rack until required.

Maggie's Tips

  • This can be served hot or at room temperature
  • Boost protein by scattering some chickpeas over squash.
  • Alternatively, use other members of the squash family.