Around the world in 80 dishes No. 35: Pumpkin and sweet potato soup

Ingredients to serve 8, or 10 as a starter
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1kg pumpkin (about half a medium pumpkin
450g sweet potatoes
2 medium onions
50g butter
1.8 litres chicken stock
2 teaspoons clear honey
300ml double cream
A quarter nutmeg, grated
2 rounded teaspoons caraway seeds
50g unroasted peanuts
2 tablespoons groundnut oil or sunflower oil
1 level teaspoon dried chilli flakes or powder
2 handfuls of coriander leaves
Sea salt and black pepper


Until I went to America I didn't realise that pumpkin was edible, thinking of it only as something to be cut out as a toothy face with a candle inside it for Halloween. I didn't much like pumpkin pie, but in Houston we had a delicious soup like this. Sensually smooth, rich and golden, it's a perfect lunch soup for a cold day.

Cut the skin off the pumpkin, scrape away any seeds or stringy parts and cut the flesh up roughly. Peel the sweet potatoes and cut into smallish cubes. Peel and slice the onions.

Melt the butter in a large, heavy-based saucepan over a medium heat, add the onions and fry until golden brown. Add the pumpkin, sweet potatoes and chicken stock, sprinkle with sea salt and bring to the boil. Cover the pan, lower the heat and simmer gently for 15-20 minutes until the pumpkin and sweet potato are really soft.

Using a blender or food processor, purée the mixture in batches, pouring the purée into a clean sauce saucepan. Stir in the honey, double cream, grated nutmeg and caraway seeds. Bring to the boil again and let bubble gently for 4-5 minutes. Remove from the heat and season with salt if needed and a little black pepper.

Roughly chop the peanuts. Heat the oil in a small frying pan over a medium heat, add the peanuts and stir around for a minute or two, then add the chilli. Stir for another minute, then take the pan off the heat. Before serving, roughly chop the coriander leaves. Throw the chilli peanuts into the soup, followed by the coriander leaves.

Taken from 'Orchards in the Oasis: Travels, Food and Memories', by Josceline Dimbleby (Quadrille, £25). Photograph by Jason Lowe