Ingredients to serve 8-10:

Freshly grated nutmeg
1-2 level tsp large-flaked sea salt
1 x 4kg pumpkin
2 medium onions, peeled
black pepper, to taste
125g butter
1.7l chicken stock
1 cinnamon stick
3 tbsp sherry

The delight this soup used to cause seemed immeasurable. Dad would tie on his stripy pinny and close the kitchen door. Muffled crashes and bangs would echo through the house. Finally, when it was time to eat, he would carry in the whole pumpkin. Holding the stalk, the top would come off and a billow of steam would shoot up. God it was good, the theatre and the eating.

Carefully cut a lid off the pumpkin and keep it. Remove the seeds and fibres from the middle. Carefully hollow out all the flesh with a knife and a spoon. It is critical that you do not cut right up to the inside of the skin or pierce it, or it will no longer be usable as a tureen; so leave at least 2cm of flesh on the sides. When all the flesh has been removed, roughly chop it and put it to one side.

Chop up the onions nice and finely. Melt the butter in a large pan and throw in the onions, cooking them slowly until soft, about 15 minutes. Add the pumpkin flesh and all the remaining ingredients except for the stock and sherry. Put the heat to medium and the lid on the pot, occasionally stirring the contents, until the pumpkin is cooked, which takes about 40 minutes.

Add the stock and then either blitz the mixture in a food processor. Bring the soup to a low simmer and cook for half an hour. Then, 45 minutes before eating, preheat the oven to 170C/150C fan/gas mark 3.

Pour the soup into the pumpkin shell and stir in the sherry. Put on the lid and place in the pre-heated oven for about 45 minutes until the soup is hot. Lift the whole pumpkin on to a suitable tray and carry it to the table, with a ladle. You don't have to bolt the soup before midnight; it will not be drawn away by a team of harnessed white mice.

Taken from 'Celebrity Chefs' Favourite Family Recipes', £2 from Morrisons, all proceeds to Childline and Help the Aged. 'What To Eat Now' by Valentine Warner (Mitchell Beazley)

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