Pumpkin soup with crunchy walnuts and pepitas

To feel safe and warm on a cold wet night, all you really need is soup.

Laurie Colwin

In my part of the world pumpkin soup is synonymous with winter. Everyone has a favourite recipe and there are almost endless variations that enhance the rich, buttery flavour of pumpkin. My preferred pumpkin variety to use to make soup is the Kent pumpkin. It seems to have the right degree of sweetness and makes a superbly smooth soup. I like spicy enhancements – either Indian or Thai influences work spectacularly well. But sometimes the classic flavours are what is called for.

Pumpkin, garlic and onion, roasted with some good olive oil and fresh thyme until the pumpkin is deeply golden and starting to caramelise on the edges, and then pureed with stock and a little cream speaks to me. Topped with salty sweet walnuts and pepitas and served with crispy croutons, this classic pumpkin soup is lifted to a level that brings joy to whomever eats it.

Serves 4 – 6, with crusty bread on the side

  • 1.5 kg peeled, de-seeded and roughly chopped pumpkin
  • 2 red onions, peeled and cut into wedges
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 3 sprigs thyme
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • freshly grated nutmeg
  • 2 – 3 cups good quality chicken or vegetable stock
  • 100 ml runny cream
  • 1/3 cup walnut pieces
  • 1/3 cup pepitas
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup

Preheat oven to 180 C. Place the pumpkin, onions, garlic and thyme in a large, shallow roasting tray and drizzle with the olive oil. Season well with sea salt and black pepper and then roast in the oven for 40 – 45 minutes until the vegetables are soft and a little caramelised around the edges. While the pumpkin is roasting make the crunchy walnuts and pepitas. Place them with the maple syrup in a small bowl and mix well. Season with a couple of good pinches of sea salt and then tip onto a shallow baking tray lined with silicon baking paper and roast for 15 minutes until toasted. Set aside to cool.

Once the vegetables are cooked, remove the thyme and then tip them into a large saucepan. Using a stick blender puree the vegetables with the stock until the soup is very smooth. If you like a thicker soup use less stock, and if you like it a little thinner, add more. Finally stir through the cream and season well to taste with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Serve piping hot with the crunchy walnuts and pepitas on the side, and some crusty bread or crunchy croutons.