Friday, 20 November 2009

The Crown Prince and the naked pumpkin

I think of the seasons in terms of food. I love Autumn because it's the time of year for my favourite foods: casseroles, stews, pot roasts, root veg and hearty soups. Comfort food I suppose. To me it's the mash & gravy season.

As regular readers of this blog will know, I am extremely lucky to be on the receiving end of my sister's hard work on her allotment. During the Summer we had no end of goodies. And now Autumn is here I've been taking delivery of leeks, parsnips, onions and some smashing pumpkins (weren't they a band in the 90s?)

These plump beauties are a variety called Crown Prince. Their extremely tough, light grey exterior, is such a contrast to their bright orange flesh. They're fantastic just roasted with a little oil and butter, salt and pepper and served as a veg accompaniment, but they make the most wonderful soup. It's like you've liquidised an orange velvet cushion. It's so silky, warm and comforting. The recipe I use is from a very old Covent Garden Soup cook book, which my sister bought for me years ago. (Recipe below)

The other variety that she's been growing is a 'naked seed' variety. Now, a naked seed pumpkin means that the seeds lack the slightly tough husk that other pumpkins have, therefore they're much nicer to eat.

This gnarly 'naked' brute is a variety called Lady Godiva (great name eh?) It really is only good for its seeds as the flesh is quite tasteless.

And here they are. Aren't they gorgeous? Silky, pearly little critters - like little legless green beetles.

Once they're out of the pumpkin you just dry them off and roast them. You can obviously leave it there, but after roasting I ground up some celery seed, rock salt black pepper and chilli and mixed it into the seeds. They were delicious on top of the soup, but they are great to just nibble (terribly healthy)

One of the baby pumpkins still in the nursery aaaaah.

Some of the older ones having a little go on the trampoline

Pumpkin Soup

25g (1oz) butter
1 medium onion, finely chopped
200g (7oz) potatoes, peeled and chopped
900g (2lb) pumpkin, diced
250g (9oz) carrots, diced
1.2l (2 pints) vegetable stock
150ml (1/4 pint) milk
demerera sugar to taste
finely grated nutmeg to taste
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Melt the butter and cook the onion gently for 5 minutes in a covered saucepan, without colouring. Add the potato, 700g (1 1/2 lb) of the pumpkin, the carrots and the vegetable stock. Cover, bring to the boil and simmer gently for about 20 minutes until the vegetables are tender. Cool a little, then puree in a liquidiser. Return to a clean saucepan and stir in the milk. Meanwhile, add the remaining pumpkin to a saucepan of boiling salted water and cook for 2 minutes. Drain and add to the pureed soup. Add the sugar, nutmeg and seasoning to taste.


  1. Really interesting post Jan. Pumpkin is something I really neglect to cook. I also didn't realise that a go on the trampoline is important - perhaps adds to the flavour?

  2. An orange velvet cushion, legless beetles, and all so delicious! Not to mention trampolining tendencies. Ace.
    country mouse xx

  3. I've really gotten into pumpkins the last couple of years. And they are so pretty, I love having them around the house! I've seen a few recipes for using up the seeds and this seems the most sensible. The others have you pre boiling or putting them in the oven so you have a spit second between raw and charred. Thank you!

  4. Ive got that book too - its lovely. Ive never toasted pumpkin seeds so I will give this a go. We are also loving the mash and gravy season!!

  5. Dan - Give it a go. Just roasted it's delicious. It's also brilliant in a curry with chickpeas & spinach.

    rockinloubylou - Glad I gave you a chuckle :)

    Fran - My sister has them on shelves and bookcases in her lounge and they look lovely!

    Diane - Do give them a go, they're nutty and delicious.

  6. I love different types of squash they look so nice though I'm not sure the flavour varies that much but who cares when they look so stunning. You are lucky to have a supply of goodies from your sister. I love squash roasted and any leftovers then are a great in spicy soups the roasting and spices are delicious together. Mmmmmm.

  7. Actually, Just found out today that there is a huge pumpkin festival near me every year, in a little village called Slindon. Just missed it unfortunately but next year - I'm there!

  8. Ralph Upton the Pumpkin man of Slindon sadly passed away in June. His pumpkin farm was very well known in the veg growing community. He ripened many of the pumpkins on the roof of the barn and people came from all over the UK and some from abroad the see the display put on every year. He once said that Crown prince was his favourite pumpkin and I tend to agree, which is why I grow it every year and Jan makes fantastic soup from them.