I thought I was getting paid last Friday. I woke up early and eagerly checked my bank balance, expecting that horrible tiny minus to have vanished in front of my funds. But wait, it was still there – what the hell? I needed to pick up my dry cleaning and buy some tights that didn’t have holes in the crotch – I pity anyone whose had to walk behind me up on an escalator in recent weeks.
“Nah, we get paid Monday, babe,” Libby says, in her lovely Australian lilt.
“Monday?! I could be dead by then!” I say dramatically, as I pull an oat cake out of my bag and angrily chomp on it – so dry.
“Well, there’s usually food to take home here on a Friday, so fill your boots,” she says lazily, as she spins her chair away from me and back to her computer – she’s bored of me now.
Covered in oat-cake crumbs and feeling upset that I wouldn’t be having my pay-day pizza treat, I wait for the kitchen to announce ‘the trolley’. Every Friday in my office, any produce that hasn’t been used in the cooking of, or the testing of, recipes gets laid out on ‘the trolley’ for the office folks to take home – ie, me. It tends to consist mainly of vegetables and fresh herbs, but occasionally there’s the odd bit of sausage or a tub of yoghurt. But, of course, I was in then loo when the trolley was announced, so all that was left was an entire pumpkin and a pot of clotted cream – no one wants to carry home a pumpkin on the tube, it seems.
But these are desperate times and I needed me some dinner, so I decided the lug the damn thing home, chop it up, roast it and blitz it into a delicious soup. Maybe I won’t die after all? I then raided my kitchen cupboards for all the ingredients I needed to makes scones to go with my clotted cream and dined like a king all weekend. Maybe pay day can wait until Monday after all.
Roasted pumpkin & garlic soup with kale and feta
Serves 4 or 6 as a starter / Hands on time 30 mins / Total time 1hr 5 min / V Gf ❄
You’ll need: A food processor or hand blender
1.4kg pumpkin, sliced into big wedges and deseeded
2 tbs olive oil
Handful fresh sage leaves
4-5 large garlic cloves, pressed slightly using the back of a knife to break open the skins
1 large onion, roughly chopped
1.25 litres vegetable stock, I use 2 Knorr stock pots
2 handfuls of kale
200g feta, crumbled
1. Preheat an oven to 200°C/180°C fan/400F/gas mark 6. De-seed and slice the pumpkin into large wedges and evenly space them out onto 2 baking trays lined with baking paper (you can peel the pumpkin if you wish but if the skin is particularity tough, remove with a knife after roasting). Season well with salt and pepper and add the pressed garlic cloves still in their skins – this stops them from burning. Sprinkle with a handful of fresh sage leaves and drizzle both trays with olive oil. Give it a good shake and a toss and roast in the oven for 30 mins.
2. After 30 mins, give the pumpkin a little shake in the oven and continue to cook for a further 10-15 minutes until soft. Meanwhile, peel and chop the onion and add to a large cooking pot with the butter. Season with salt and cook with the lid on over a low to medium heat, stirring frequently until softened.
3. Remove the pumpkin from the oven and leave to cool for a few minutes. Squeeze the garlic cloves out of their skins carefully with your fingers or with the back of a knife and into the onions – discard the skins. To remove the pumpkin skin, I use a fork to pin down the segment with one hand and slice around the edge with a knife in the other. Dispose of the skins.
4. By now the onions should be nice and soft so add the roasted pumpkin to the pot along with the stock and a good crack of salt and pepper. Simmer for 15 minutes.
5. Finally blitz well in a food processor or with a hand blender until smooth and creamy in texture. If serving topped with kale and feta, cover the soup to keep it warm and steam or boil the kale for a few minutes before diving the soup into bowls and topping with the kale and crumbled feta.
If you’ve had a go at making my pumpkin soup or any of my other recipes, I’d love to hear about it @corrieheale email@example.com
V – Vegetarian
Gf – I use Knorr vegetable stock pots because they are gluten free but other stock pots/cubes may not be. Always check the label. Please substitute wholewheat pasta for a gluten free alternative.
❄ The soup is suitable for home freezing once cooled. Consume within 3 months.