Squash, Pumpkin and Halloween

Halloween is but a few days away and the first thought that springs to mind is the jack-o’-lanterns. But pumpkins are not just for nicely carved out lanterns. Together with squash they make heart-warming meals – a treat in cooler autumn weather.


Pumpkin vs Squash – what’s the difference?

Pumpkin is a type of squash.  There are four different species of squash, but they all belong to the same family – the cucurbitaceae.  By the way, pumpkins and squash are fruit! Most pumpkins are kind-of flattened spheres whilst squash are often elongated.  Both squash and pumpkin come in a variety of colours, ranging from very pale yellow, to bright orange, yellow or green.  Pumpkins come with a stiff, spiky stem and their seeds are a good source of protein and fibre.

How do you know which to use for your recipe?

Different people have different views; personally, I prefer using pumpkin in soups with a watery base, like minestrone.  For stews, salads and thick soups I use squash because it is less watery and gives a better consistency. Before I start with my recipe, I roast the squash to bring out its nutty flavour.

Roasted squash can be used in various dishes – from soups to salads, to pies and purees.  It has a richer taste than pumpkin and is less liquidy which makes it a better choice when making puree and pie.

How to make butternut squash and lentil soup

Last Saturday I felt like being adventurous with my pumpkin soup.  I only had butternut squash in the house and felt like tweaking my typical pumpkin and walnut soup recipe to include lentils.

If you like a chunky, heart-warming soup, that’s full of earthy flavours, here goes.

Scrub the butternut squash, prick the skin with a sharp knife and roast in an oven 250 degrees Celsius for 60 minutes or until the squash is soft.  Let it cool down and chop into chunks.  I left the skin on but removed the seeds.roasted-squashRinse a cup of green lentils and boil for 10 minutes – drain and set aside.

In a pan sautee the white part of a chopped up leek, three crushed cloves of garlic and half a cup chopped walnuts.chopped-leeksAdd one heaped teaspoon of smoked paprika and one level teaspoon of ground cumin – mix well and sautee for one minute.

Add the chopped squash and lentils to the pan and mix well until the squash is covered with paprika and cumin.  Cook for a further two minutes, stirring continuously so the mixture does not stick to the pan.

squash-and-lentilsAdd 1.25 litres of vegetable stock, stir and bring to the boil.  Lower the heat and simmer gently for 20 minutes or until the lentils are cooked.

soup-to-boilTurn off the heat and using a potato masher, reduce the squash to a pulp.  If you prefer a smooth soup, whiz everything in a food processor.

Serve in warm plates with a dallop of Greek yogurt and a sprinkle of chopped walnuts.


If you love a soup full of earthy flavours, I promise this will not disappoint. Try it.

My thanks go to

Ask Florine



Food 52

Google images for jack-o’lanterns pics


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