Roast pumpkin soup with blue cheese

Ingredients to serve 4

1kg pumpkin, peeled and cut into chunks
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
2 garlic cloves, whole and unpeeled
1 rosemary sprig, leaves stripped
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 litre vegetable or chicken stock
4 slices of good-quality bread
120g blue cheese, Picos Blue or similar

The pumpkins we get in Extremadura can grow into monsters, sometimes 40 kilos in weight. So eating one is a village endeavour: whenever my mum harvests one, she distributes pieces to all her friends and neighbours. My dad grows two types – a long, marrow-shaped one which is better for roasting, and the round, Halloween variety, which is best for soups, as in this recipe.

I like to use Picos Blue with this soup, but Stilton or Gorgonzola make good alternatives.

Preheat the oven to 220C/gas 7.

Take a large baking tray or two and, using your hands, mix together the pumpkin chunks, olive oil, garlic, rosemary and salt and pepper thoroughly. You want the pumpkin nicely coated with oil to ensure that it browns evenly. Spread out in a single layer on the tray.

Put the pumpkin into the oven and bake for 25 minutes, until it has started to caramelise round the edges.

Once cooked, remove the garlic and the rosemary before decanting the pumpkin into a large pan. Add the stock, then bring to a gentle boil and let it bubble for 5 minutes to blend the flavours. Take off the heat and purée the soup using a hand blender. Adjust the seasoning.

Toast or fry the bread. Ladle out the soup into four warmed bowls. Crumble the cheese onto the toast, then gently float the slices on the soup, drizzle with a little olive oil and serve immediately.

Taken from 'Seasonal Spanish Food' by José Pizarro (Kyle Books, £15.99).

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