A pumpkin soup for after Hallowe’en

AS THE old saying goes, waste not, want not.
You can make the most of your Hallowe’en pumpkins with this creamy and silky, garlicky and smoky soup. Beyond your Hallowe’en celebrations, it is a perfect recipe for autumn and winter days that cry out for cosy suppers,
You can make it with any squash, and with or without the bacon. Serves 4.

1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 large onion, roughly chopped
1kg (2lb) of pumpkin or butternut squash, skinned, deseeded, chopped into chunks
4 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
A litre of chicken (or vegetable) stock
4 to 6 rashers of bacon or about 200g pancetta/lardons (optional)
Ground black pepper; salt
Teeny pinch of cinnamon
120 ml of whole milk or cream

Heat a large pan/stockpot over a medium heat then add and fry the onion gently for 5 minutes; add the garlic and cook together until soft, golden and caramelly.
While they’re cooking, prepare the pumpkin chunks. Add them and your stock to the pot then season with black pepper and salt to taste. Bring to the boil uncovered, then simmer for 30 mins or until the pumpkin’s soft.
Meanwhile, if adding bacon, chop, fast fry and set aside. Remove soup from the heat, blend until silky smooth, return to mediium the heat and stir in the milk or cream with the tiniest pinch of cinnamon then add the bacon if using.
Taste to check it’s properly seasoned. Stir and serve in generous bowls with a swirl of cream and crusty farmhouse bread or black olive focaccia.

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