Pumpkin and chestnut soup with ginger

There are a lot of pumpkins in our house following our visit to the Fiera della Zucca di Piozzo last weekend so I’ve been hunting down new pumpkin recipes. This one for a rich creamy pumpkin soup also makes great use of the sweet chestnuts that have started to fall in the woods around our house and which I gather up and stuff into my pockets on our morning walks. I’ve made many pumpkin soups over the years but this one, adapted from a recipe by Everyday Delicious, is by far my favourite. What makes it different is the addition of ginger and a squeeze of lemon at the end which adds layers of flavour and lightens the dish. I replaced the cream with grated creamed coconut – you could use coconut milk – which means this recipe is also vegan.

As with all smooth soups you will need a hand blender for this dish.

Ingredients

800g of pumpkin, around 400g once peeled and deseeded
200g chestnuts
A large white onion or 2 small ones
30g creamed coconut or half a tin of coconut milk
A knob of butter
A lemon
3 cloves of garlic
A piece of fresh ginger, around 3cm long
A vegetable stock cube

Method

Start by preparing your pumpkin. Slice the pumpkin into segments, remove the peel, deseed and cut into rough chunks.

Place the pumpkin chunks onto a baking tray and drizzle over a little olive oil. Season well with salt and pepper and then mix everything together. Place the tray in a hot over for around 20 minutes or until the pumpkin is soft and just starting to brown on the edges – this adds extra flavour. Remove from the oven and set aside.

Now it’s time to prepare the chestnuts…

Anyone who has done this before will know that it’s a terrible job so you may prefer to buy yours ready prepared. If you are able to buy fresh chestnuts, which are often available in the run up to Christmas, this is the best method I’ve found so far.

First you need to make an incision in the flat side of each chestnut making sure to cut through the inner skin as well as the outer shell – and taking care not to cut yourself in the process!

Place the chestnuts in a pan of water and bring to the boil. After 10 minutes, take the pan off the heat, drain the water and place the chestnuts onto a baking tray. Pop the tray into a hot oven for around 15 minutes or until the chestnuts split open, then remove from the oven and allow to cool for a few minutes, just until the chestnuts can be handled. If you leave the chestnuts too long everything will close up again.

Now it’s just a matter of getting the shells off. Don’t worry if the chestnuts break up, most of mine did. But it’s very satisfying when a whole one pops out!

Once you’ve prepared the pumpkin and chestnuts it’s time to make the soup.

Chop the onion and fry it in the butter in a large pan for around 7 minutes until it goes transluscent. Then add the ginger – peeled and grated – and the crushed garlic cloves. Cook gently for 5 minutes making sure the garlic doesn’t burn. The smell will be amazing!

Add the roasted pumpkin chunks and chestnuts and mix everything together.

Dissolve the stock cube in half a litre of boiling water. Add the stock and the grated coconut or coconut milk to the pan and simmer for 20 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and allow to cool before blending everything together. If the soup is too thick you can add a little extra water or stock. Put the soup back back into the pan and rehew gently before serving. Add a squeeze of lemon juice and season to taste.

I served my soup with a dollop of natural yoghurt and a sprinke of fresh coriander. Apparently this soup freezes well but mine never got that far!

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