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


5 basic steps how to make homemade soups

Have you ever thought how easy it is to make your own soups?  Vegetable soups can make an excellent detox meal or a warming comfort food, come cooler weather. Follow these five basic steps and you’re on your way to making hearty soups in time for autumn.

1. Basic ingredient

Most soups start with sauteing the onion and / or garlic or leek (leeks have a milder taste to onions).

When the onion is translucent, but not burnt, add any spices or herbs (if using).  Saute stiring continuously for one or two minutes.

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2. Other ingredients

Once the onion is coated with any spices (if using), tip in the pulses – lentils, beans, dried peas etc.- (wash pulses under running water before use).

Cut the vegetables into small pieces – keep them of a similar size so they cook evenly. If using root vegetables put these in first, cause they take longer to cook. Stir for a couple of minutes until your ingredients are coated with the onion mixture before adding the stock.

3. Stock

Add the stock – you can make your own homemade stock or add hot water to a stock pot or bouillon.  If using the latter, check out the sodium content of the product and go easy when seasoning your soup. You can easily ruin your soup by adding too much salt.

Once you add the stock, bring it to the boil and lower the heat to allow the soup to simmer. Cooking time depends on your choice of ingredients but a lot of vegetable soups cook in just under 30 minutes.

4. How to serve

Serving your soup is a matter of preference.  Some people like chunky soups, others prefer smooth.  Some like thick soups, whilst others prefer a thinner consistency to their soups.  Go for what you prefer; there’s no hard and fast rule.

For a chunky soup squash your ingredients with a potato masher or pulse in a food processor.  A vegetable mill (if you have one) gives your soup a thick, rustic texture.

To obtain a smoother result, process your soup in a food blender or a smoothie machine.

If you’d like to thin out your soup, add some hot water.  If your soup is too runny, add two tablespoons of quinoa, quinoa porridge or bulgur wheat in the simmering stage to thicken the consistency.

You can serve your soup with crusty bread or unbuttered toast to add substance and make it more filling.

5. Benefits of homemade soups

Homemade soups are quick and easy to make.  Once you master the basic steps you will appreciate the benefits of homemade over the convenience of buying ready made soups, anytime.

Homemade soups are

  • a nutritious meal in a bowl;
  • a good lunch box item;
  • good hearty suppers on a cold day;
  • refreshing when served chilled;
  • quick and easy to make;
  • economical.

Try making your own soups and find out how good you are at doing so!

Sharing is caring; share your favourite soup recipe or follow me on Pinterest to get soup recipes and ideas.

My thanks go


The 10-day soup challenge

Have you ever taken on a 10-day soup challenge?  It promises to help you shift that stubborn weight around your waist, in as little as 10 days! Sounds good? Find out more …

Eating soup

Does the soup diet work?

Four years ago, I was out of action for 12 weeks due a major operation.  My greatest concern was not my surgery but the weight gain due to lack of mobility.  I promised myself I was not going to come out of this heavier than when I walked in, so I set myself a plan – go for a liquid diet.

It worked!  At the end of the 12 weeks, I came out weighing 1.5 kgs less than when I went for the operation.  I lost some muscle due to lack of exercise, but in the main, the diet worked.

How does the soup diet work?

I came across this article which I would like to share with you.  It promotes the same concept – a soup diet to help you lose weight, without missing out on your nourishment. I did not stretch my diet to the limit, as is suggested in this article, but I did eat homemade soup for both lunch and dinner.

Obviously, if you eat nothing but soups, the weight will come off faster, but then you cannot live on soups alone long term.  I chose to vary my diet – having porridge in the morning and a piece of fruit in between meals.  I also cooked in advance so I could have different soups for lunch and dinner.

Soups in summer

You may associate soups with winter … true but not quite.  There are a number of soups which can be served cold or chilled and there are others which can be enjoyed at room temperature.

Homemade soups are comforting and quick ‘n’ easy to make.  A bowl-full of soup provides you with all your body needs – carbohydrates, protein, good fat and fibre – all in one.  Opt for thick soups; they keep you satisfied for longer.

Soups can be made from various ingredients.  You can have fish soups, chicken or meat. You can choose to go for vegetable-based soups which cover your five-a-day in a wink.  Or you can opt for grains and pulses.

Would you like to shift those extra pounds / kilos?  

Let’s do this together.  I have figured out four options for you to choose from.

Option A – eating nothing but soups for 10 days

Option B – eating soups for lunch and dinner for 10 days

Option C – eating soups for dinner only for 10 days

Option D – eating soups for five days out of seven / repeat in week two

Go for it and let me know how much weight you manage to polish off.  I am going with Option D – how about you?

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My thanks go to 

Mail Online for article by Ruth Styles; and 

Corbis for image