Facebook has just reminded me that five years ago I spent the day at the Luton Hoo Pumpkin and Apple Day, retreating from the crowds from time to time to sit on the haystacks and feed my 6 month old daughter. Today I have been in the town square enjoying our community garden Apple Day. We’ve been selling apples, pears, quinces and our juice (made with windfalls and unwanted apples collected from local gardens and orchards), running craft workshops for the children and chatting to Hitchin shoppers about all things apple related.
Within a couple of hours many of the apple varieties had sold out
Throughout October our house has had an underlying scent of apples – cooking apples stewing, crab apples boiling for jelly and cupboards full of apple boxes stored for eating or cooking later in the year. Our recently harvested quinces have added to the aroma and at the Stotfold Steam Fair last weekend we bought a mammoth pumpkin from a local grower. This has pleased the kids no end as last year I was late to the shops and we ended up celebrating Hallowe’en with a carved watermelon (on the grounds that any cucurbit was better than no cucurbit!)
There’s no doubt that October brings the excitement of the autumn harvest and related festivities, but it also brings wastage on a grand scale as much of the pumpkin flesh removed prior to carving goes straight in the bin. Sara Venn, co-founder of Incredible Edible Bristol, highlighted this waste at the beginning of the week in her article ‘Please don’t play with your food…’ with the appalling figure that 80,000 tonnes of pumpkin flesh went to landfill in 2014. She has been blogging with pumpkin recipes all week and has asked readers and fellow bloggers to add their recipes and ideas to the mix. So here are some pumpkin soup recipes with a bit of apple thrown in for good measure. The spices in the first soup and sweetness of the apple in the second help to add flavour to commercial Hallowe’en pumpkins bred for size and colour, not for taste. The soups are based on recipes in the Luton Hoo ‘Pumpkin and Apple Gala Cookbook’, bought from the Apple and Pumpkin Day five years ago and much used since…
Pumpkin, Prawn and Coconut Soup
400ml can coconut milk
1 lemongrass stalk or several leaves, bruised
2 tsps Thai green curry paste
4 Kaffir lime leaves
500ml hot chicken stock
1 tbsp nam pla fish sauce
About 500g peeled pumpkin flesh, chopped
250g pack MSC (Marine Stewardship Council) prawns
Juice of 1 lime
1 chilli, deseeded and chopped
A bunch of shredded spring onions or chopped chives
Add the coconut milk, Kaffri lime leaves and lemon grass to a pan and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the Thai green curry paste and hot stock. Stir gently until the paste has dissolved.
Add the pumpkin and simmer until tender (10-12 minutes). Add the prawns and cook for a further 5 minutes. Remove the lemon grass and Kaffir lime leaves. Add lime juice and fish sauce to taste.
Serve topped with shredded spring onions/chives and chilli.
Roast Pumpkin and Bramley Apple Soup
1 large pumpkin
2 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 small Bramley ( or other cooking) apple, peeled and chopped
700ml vegetable stock
Salt and pepper to taste
Cut pumpkin into quarters, scoop out seeds (rinse and save), brush flesh with olive oil and roast for 25 minutes at 180ºc or until flesh is soft. Once cool, scoop flesh out of skin.
Melt the butter in a pan and add the onion. Soften for 10 minutes without browning. Add stock and pumpkin flesh. Simmer gently for 15 minutes. Add the apple and simmer for a further 5 minutes until tender.
Blend the soup, add salt and pepper to taste and serve with natural yoghurt and ground black pepper.
As a tasty extra treat, the discarded pumpkin seeds can be toasted for 20-25 minutes at 180ºc spread out on an oiled baking tray. Remove from oven when toasted. Toss in seasoning and herbs or spices to taste (we used salt, pepper, cumin and paprika) and scoff as a pre-dinner snack.
The pumpkin and apple harvest adds a sparkle to October meals – there are so many delicious ways to make the most of these hearty ingredients
For more apple recipes, try some tasty Apple and Cinnamon Butter, Spiced Crab Apple Jelly and Crab Apple Fruit Leathers or our family favourite – Rhubarb and Apple Sponge.
If you have other cucurbits to use up, try Stuffed Summer Squash, Courgette and Chilli Cornbread or Courgette Tea Bread.
I’d love to hear about other favourite pumpkin and apple recipes – with all that pumpkin flesh going spare in the next few weeks, every delicious recipe counts. And if you’d like to explore more recipes with me, you can follow the blog below: