You can’t have Halloween without pumpkin. If we’re not carving it in our house, we’re finding all kinds of recipes to make with it. This Itsy Bitsy Pumpkin Soup is just the trick for tiny (and not so tiny) tummies. Serve in little bread bowls to tempt even the fussiest of eaters.
Halloween week and you can’t go anywhere near a supermarket or shop without being assaulted by displays of pumpkins right by the door. My kids always get excited at the prospect of carving their own. Lots of effort goes into choosing, buying and then finally carving the pumpkin. But have they actually tried eating pumpkin? I’m ashamed to say, until very recently, the answer to that question was no.
I’m not sure why I let so much time go by without introducing pumpkin into my kids’ diets. When you see how good it is nutritionally you realise why it’s such a fantastic food to incorporate into meals. It’s an incredible source of vitamin A which is beneficial for eyesight and also for healthy skin, teeth and bones. It’s also packed full of fibre for good digestive and heart health. And it’s a rich source of the amino acid tryptophan which helps our bodies make serotonin – the so-called “feel good” chemical.
Just like butternut squash (see our Butternut Squash Brownie recipe), pumpkin is really versatile. You can plonk it in starters, soups, snacks, dinners and of course, desserts like the ubiquitous pumpkin pie.
As a puree, pumpkin is a fantastic baby food all on its own. Here I’ve taken the puree one step further to make a lovely pumpkin soup suitable for children over the age of one (if you want to make this for a baby, skip adding salt and pepper and substitute the chicken stock for salt-free homemade stock or use a salt-free baby stock cube which are available in some supermarkets).
Like most foods for kids, making a meal look fun and interesting really helps, especially if you’re introducing it for the first time. These little bread bowls are so simple to make but are downright irresistible. Cut a hole in the top, scoop out the insides and put a little soup into each. My kids loved the novelty of taking the top off to reveal the soup underneath. This worked even for my fussiest eater – my daughter – who dipped the bread top into the soup and actually tried it and liked it. The best part – no washing up. The soup soaks into the dough at the bottom of the bread bowl, so once the soup is eaten, the bread is a lovely treat.
I also tried roasting the seeds for the first time. I’m going to be honest – it was a lot of faff, cleaning all the pumpkin off the seeds, rinsing, drying, boiling and then roasting. The end result was absolutely delicious though so, yes, worth the effort if you have a lot of seeds going spare, but maybe wait until you have a clear morning or afternoon – not something I recommend if you’re already pushed for time or stressed.
- 1kg pumpkin, peeled, deseeded and cut into chunks
- 2 onions, finely chopped
- 750ml chicken or vegetable stock
- a pinch of salt and pepper
- 2 Tbsp olive or vegetable oil
- crusty bread rolls
- Heat the oil in a large saucepan over a medium-high heat.
- Add the onions and cook for around 5 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent burning. Cook until soft but not brown.
- Add the pumpkin and cook for a further 10 minutes until the pumpkin is very soft (a fork should pass through easily).
- Add the chicken or vegetable stock.
- Season with a pinch of salt and pepper to taste.
- Bring to a light boil and then turn down the heat to simmer for a further 10 minutes.
- Remove from the heat and use a hand blender to puree to a smooth consistency. You could also transfer to an upright blender for this step.
- If you'd prefer a smoother texture, pass through a fine sieve or muslin into another pan to remove any small lumps.
- Take a bread knife and carefully cut a circle into the top of each roll. Remove the disk of bread and gently scoop out the insides of each roll. You don't have to go mad - just create enough room to add the soup.
- Spoon the soup into each bread bowl and serve immediately.
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