Joining the back streets between Deptford and Greenwich, Naomi and I meandered from our old pseudo campus streets of New Cross to the Royal Observatory, both of us indifferent now to the home of Greenwich Mean Time and all the tourists and their selfies. It was the perfect day for soup, and her boyfriend, Mark, had already started making the split-pea and paprika erbsensuppe recipe by the time we got home. You can find the recipe they used for that soup here (be warned, do not try to travel or even move any less than an hour after eating- it's way too filling and delicious for that).
The following day I was inspired to make my own autumn starter soup. Squash soups are one of my favourite kinds (I do really, really love squash soup); while they can get quite claggy in a roast or mash, with stock, the right amount of seasoning and stewing, they transform into a velvet-ty rich consistency perfect for the season they belong in.
If this is your first autumn and winter as a vegan, you might be missing cream and butter already- so this could be a good recipe to try for replacing that richness. Treat the coconut milk like cream for this - you don't need much, perhaps a third of the can- and add it right at the end so you can decide how far to dilute the spice and heat. It will make this very rich, so tastes delicious when topped with coriander to lift it all a little.
Spicy pumpkin and butternut squash soup with coconut, ginger, chilli and coriander
Makes four portions
1 white onion, chopped small
2 inches grated ginger
2 small green chillies
1 tsp dried chillies
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp turmeric
Salt and pepper
1 small pumpkin, skin, pith and seeds removed, chopped into 1 inch squares
1 small butternut squash, skin, pith and seeds removed, chopped into 1 inch squares
1 litre of vegetable stock
150ml coconut milk
Handful of chopped fresh coriander
Heat a little vegetable oil in a big saucepan or wok, and add in the onion on a low heat. Once that's cooked for a few minutes, add in the ginger, chillies, cumin, turmeric and salt and pepper to season. Stir into the onion and allow to saute on a low heat until all the spices are fragrant.
Now add in the pumpkin and butternut squash, and cover with vegetable stock. Turn up the heat and simmer for around 30 minutes, until all the squash and pumpkin pieces are well cooked. Blend with a hand blender or mixer until smooth, and then pour in the coconut milk and stir. Taste and season or add in a little more coconut milk if it's still too spicy, and top with a sprinkling of coriander leaves.