The clocks have gone back and Halloween looms, a sure sign that winter is well and truly at our door.
(Okay, can we please for the purposes of this piece forget the fact that the temperature outside is touching 30 degrees and the sun is shining mercilessly. Work with me here, people!)
Halloween is a celebration of the old Celtic New Year which welcomes the onset of true winter and has traditionally included the use of divinations to try to predict what the New Year would bring; will CD Tenerife manage to avoid relegation, who will win the free holiday at Sands Beach Resort and how soon will the resort of Costa Adeje spread all the way to Los Cristianos?
Of course, Halloween is also a time when people dressed up to parody the witches and demons who supposedly stood guard over the doors to the spirit world, on Tenerife they’re better known as landlords and landladies (ouch).
But if there’s one thing that transcends the cultural divide between the ancient Celtic lands and our small island in the Atlantic, it’s the wide availability of the humble pumpkin. Apart from being liberally scattered over corrugated tin rooftops in rural hamlets such as Masca to ensure the roof doesn’t fly off, pumpkins are also available in handy cut wedges, minus their seeds and flesh, in most supermarkets. And at this time of year, farmer’s markets have a good supply of the whole pumpkin available. Pumpkins are part of the squash family which is one of the most ancient vegetable families of the world. That’s why they’ve always been a vital ingredient of the autumnal harvest and an icon of Halloween.
As well as the classic decoration of carving a face into the empty pumpkin and placing a night light inside, you could also fill it with earth and plant crimson geraniums for a fiendishly cunning splash of colour for the terrace. Just don’t leave it like that for too long as it’ll start to rot and you’ll have a devil of a job getting rid of the thing.
Pumpkin has a sweet flavour, is high in potassium and vitamin C and contains zinc which is a booster for the immune system. The minerals in pumpkin are also particularly beneficial for the efficient functioning of the prostrate gland so I reckon this soup is one for the men to make.
Devilish Pumpkin Soup
Hollow out the flesh, remove the seeds and make this spicy soup with the flesh. The hollow pumpkin can be used as a tureen to serve the soup in.
Preparation: 10 minutes
Cooking: 40 minutes
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 inch root ginger, chopped
1 kg pumpkin flesh (skin & seeds removed), chopped
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 litre stock
cream or Greek yoghurt to serve (optional)
“¢ Heat oil and fry cumin seeds for 30 seconds as they sizzle and dance in the pan.
“¢ Add onion, garlic and ginger and fry for 5 minutes till soft
“¢ Add pumpkin and soy sauce and fry for 5 minutes
“¢ Add stock and lots of pepper and bring to boil
“¢ Simmer for 20 minutes, then leave to stand for 5 minutes
“¢ Blend the soup until rich and creamy
“¢ Serve with a swirl of Greek yoghurt in the centre or cast the diet to the Devil and go for cream instead.