Following yesterday’s stormy weather and feeling in need of warmth, I couldn’t resist buying a fat wedge of pumpkin for soup making. There is one particular stand that I head to at our market; a producer who started work as a young employee at a local market garden but after many years of dedicated work, inherited the business. Twice weekly queues snake either side of his large stall where the wait for service can be considerable but no complaints are aired, instead everyone patiently stands in line for some of the best fruit and vegetables of the season. Creamy cauliflowers, huge pink shallots, knobby tomatoes, fragrant strawberries and over the summer months there are the most delicious, plump raspberries. The produce isn’t supermarket-perfect aesthetically but I adore the individuality of each rugged piece where flavour is the primary concern.

As an autumnal chill increases, so does soup making and recipes2share has lots to choose from, just type into the recipe search: Pumpkin & Mussel, Cream of Cauliflower & Bacon and Carrot & Sweet Pepper, Jerusalem Artichoke & Celery plus many, many more. Along with being both economical and nutritious, soups are a great mode for experimenting with flavour combinations and today’s concoction is no exception – a velvety Pumpkin & Walnut soup, the slight bitterness of walnuts to temper the natural sweetness of the pumpkin; a great light meal and easy to transport in a pretty jar for a healthy working lunch, too.

Pumpkin & Walnut Soup
serves 6-8

50g walnuts
1tbsp olive oil
1 onion, roughly chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
1kg pumpkin flesh, roughly chunked
500ml hot chicken stock
1tbsp crème fraiche
Sea salt & white pepper

Begin by toasting the walnuts in a large saucepan over a high heat; keep tossing them about and take care that they don’t burn. Set aside to cool then roughly chop.

Add the oil to the pan and sweat the onion and garlic over a medium-low heat until they have softened but not coloured; add the pumpkin, walnuts and stock. Bring to a boil, cover the pan and reduce the heat to a gentle simmer for about 15 minutes after which the vegetables will be cooked and soft.

Allow to cool before adding the crème fraiche. Process to smooth with either a hand blender or liquidizer before checking seasoning then reheat to piping hot to serve.