Recipe: A squash on Hallowe'en

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Indy Lifestyle Online
HAPPY Hallowe'en. As a finale to our cooking with pumpkin series, it would be nice to promote some varieties of winter squash. They do exist: hard green New Zealand buttercups, for example; red kuri (very sweet oriental squash), and the huge Atlantic giants or tiny spookies. But they are hard to find. In most greengrocers it is all Hallowe'en orange, which are mildly sweet and predictable. So the only answer is to grow your own. Exotic vegetable farmer Francis Smith of Appledore, Kent, recommends A L Tozer, Pyports, Downside Bridge Road, Cobham, Surrey (0932 862059).

In the meantime look out for the winter squashes such as butternut. According to Mrs Smith, a firm specialising in pumpkins called La Ferme de Ste Marthe, Cour Cheverny, France, produces a recipe booklet advising the cook always to begin by steaming or baking the squash to soften the skin. Then, she says, 'Treat it like you would a parsnip. Roast it.'

This week's winning recipe for pumpkin soup from Alison Davidson of Lymington, Hampshire, calls for butternut, but most varieties will do. Her prize is two bottles of 1991 Avignonesi Bianco from Reid Wines near Bristol.

Pumpkin Soup with Coriander

Serves 6

Ingredients: 1lb/450g butternut squash, par-baked for 20 minutes, deseeded, cubed and peeled

1-2oz/25-50g butter or olive oil

1tbs white flour

1 medium onion, chopped

1 plump clove garlic, minced

1 pint/475ml chicken stock

juice of 1 orange

1tbs tomato puree

4oz/115g smoked streaky bacon, diced

ground cumin to taste

ground coriander seeds to taste

salt and pepper

lemon juice to taste

cream

fresh coriander, chopped

Preparation: Sweat onion in butter, adding garlic just as onion becomes tender and light gold. Add bacon and cook over medium heat for 3 minutes. Add the pumpkin or squash. Cook for several more minutes, stirring. Add stock, orange juice, tomato puree and simmer until the pumpkin is tender. This will vary depending on variety. Blend in food processor, return to pan, add cumin, coriander, salt, pepper and lemon juice to taste. Finish with swirl of cream and chopped fresh coriander.

Next week, the first of our winter stews. Send recipes, stating source if not original, to Emily Green, Recipe, Weekend Features, The Independent, 40 City Road, London EC1Y 2DB. The prize will be a bottle of 1991 Charles Melton Nine Popes, Barossa Valley, South Australia.

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