Smashing pumpkins

It was time to clean out the remnants of the summer vegetable garden this week. The patch had descended into a variety of browned off, shriveling plants and an infestation of weeds. Its quite cathartic bringing order to chaos in the garden. Under the supervision of the brown dog (pictured) I ripped out the dried out corn plants standing sentry, the shriveled tomato plants that will no doubt self seed again next year, and the exhausted zucchini. I picked the dried beans off their vines to plant next year crop and foraged for pumpkins. I compost all the waste.

Once I’d cleaned out the weeds I raked over the beds with a three pronged cultivar to loosen and aerate the top few inches of soil, fertilized with some manure and blood and bone, added a load of compost then covered the beds with pea straw to leave for a week or two.

This year I got a bumper crop of butternuts and kent pumpkins. You need to harvest them when the stem goes woody and preserve about 5cm of stem as it helps to keep them longer. You can store pumpkins in a cool dry place for about 30-90 days. So I’ll be making loads of soup in the next few months. Here is the recipe for the first soup I’m making this season – Pumpkin and roast red capsicum.

Ingredients:

  • 4 red capsicums halved and de-seeded
  • 1/2 large butternut pumpkin, peeled and diced
  • 1 onion diced
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 litre vegetable stock
  • 1/2 red chilli, de-seeded and chopped or 1/2 tsp chilli flakes
  • Handful of chopped parsley or coriander

Method:

  • Preheat oven to 180 C
  • Spread capsicums, onion and pumpkin on a large oven tray, season and drizzle the tablespoon of oil over them
  • Bake the vegetables in the over for about 20 minutes until the edges start to blacken to give the soup that nice roasted flavour
  • When the capsicums have cooled remove most of the blackened skin and chop roughly
  • Heat the rest of the oil in a large saucepan and add the baked vegetables
  • Add the stock and chilli, bring it to boil them simmer for about 20 minutes until all the veggies are soft
  • Blend the soup with a hand blender or food processor

Re-heat and serve with a handful of coriander or parsley. You can also add fried diced haloumi and/or roasted nuts if you want a richer flavor.

Image: Jarrah the brown dog showing off the pumpkin harvest

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