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.Rinse 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.Add 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.
Add 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.
Turn 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
Google images for jack-o’lanterns pics