Season of mists and pumpkin soup

I love this time of year.

If, like me, you’re a temperate climate sort of girl, then autumn is everything you could ask for. The days are still warm but the sun isn’t sledgehammering you into the ground; mornings and evenings are cool and fresh and perfect for walking the Deputy Editor, aka Molly the cockerpoo.


I have to admit that Molly is not a morning dog, and some days I end up having to tip her out of bed to get her up to make it to the park for her morning constitutional. Teenagers, eh? Lazy slug-a-beds.

The trees3 in our local park (a plot of land Molly regards as her own and that she guards fiercely against invading squirrels) are just starting to turn yellow. Another few weeks and they’ll be that glorious russet red that my hair never quite achieved, even with the help of henna. Conkers are everywhere in the park this year—a bumper crop, if only children these days knew what to do with them—and walking under the trees poses a real risk of your being bonked on the head by acorns hurling themselves enthusiastically ground-ward. I have started my usual collection of conkers and acorns to fill bowls in the house. There’s an old 1920’s teacup full of shiny brown conkers and one sprig of turkey oak leaves with its acorn still attached, right beside the computer to remind me of autumn every time I lift my head.

I marked the change of seasons tonight with my first vat of spicy squash soup. It’s a staple of my diet from the first days of autumn through to the first days of spring. Nothing says the year’s turning its face towards its close louder than sitting with my feet up, sipping on a big mug of bright orange soup while watching Eggheads on the telly.

I’m very rarely domesticated. But here’s the recipe, so you too can have a bowl of spicy autumn-ness.


2 medium oniopumpkinsns
50g butter
1kg pumpkin or butternut squash
1 tbs coriander seeds
2 tsp cumin seeds
1 litre vegetable stock


Peel and roughly chop the onion.

Peel the pumpkin or squash, taking out the nasty stringy bits and seeds. Chop into rough cubes. Any bits that fall on the floor are fair game and Molly will eat them. She’s a gannet, that dog, and adores crunchy vegetables.

Toast the coriander seeds and cumin in a small pan over a low heat for about two minutes. Grind using a pestle and mortar – it’s good exercise and the kitchen smells divine.

Right then.

Melt the butter in a large, heavy-based saucepan and cook the onion until soft and translucent. Add the pumpkin/squash cubes and spices and let them brown for a minute or two, but there’s a lot of pumpkin/squash and very little butter and honest, I often don’t worry about it browning and just toss in the pumpkin-soup-for-blogstock.

So. Add the stock. Simmer for 20 minutes or so until the pumpkin/squash is tender. Blitz and whizz with a blender until it’s smooth. Check the seasoning.

Serve piping hot. If you’re feeling devilish, you could swirl some single cream through it and scatter crispy-fried bacon bits on top, but it’s almost as lovely without. Serves 4. At least.


Have a lovely autumn. Enjoy this very best part of the year.



  1. Mmmm. I frequently refer to autumn as the beginning of my Holy Season. 🙂 It is without a doubt my favorite time of year. I love the scratchy sound of leaves skittering down a sidewalk, and the mulchy wet smell of damp earth, and the crisp mornings when the air has a bite to it. I love sweaters, and fires in the hearth, and pumpkin. OMG, I love pumpkin. I eat it like mad until I’m utterly sick of it and then by the time autumn rolls around again, I’m ready for it once more. I’m going to have to try my hand at making this soup!


  2. Molly’s obviously been taking her editing responsibilites very seriously – she looks worn out! Last autumn I went conker collecting in the hope that the old tales had some truth in them and conkers would deter spiders. They didn’t work as advertised, but doing so took me back to many happy childhood days and the joy of finding half-open prickly cases with a shiny new conker nestled inside. I’m taking my bag and going again this year.


    • Our local park is a cornucopia of conkers. It has several different species of oak, as well, so I always have sprigs of oakleaves and acorns around at this time of year. I’ve also just come back from walking Molly on the NOSE, bringing home bright scarlet rose hips and some odd pinkish red seedheads with hot orange seeds inside. No idea what those last ones are. I *love* this time of year.

      The NOSE, by the way, is a long thin green walkway that runs from the Abbey Mills pumping station to the river at Becton – the Northern Outfall Sewer Embankment. Yes, indeed. A huge tube of shit with a green walkway on top of it. Sometimes the smell makes you wish your nose would fall off, but no wonder the berries are plump and shiny. Naturally fertilised.


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