Pumpkin and bacon soup

Since college is sucking my will to live at the moment, the meals I manage to make are usually ones you can completely ignore until you remember you were making dinner 30 minutes previously.
When I was wandering around eason’s the other day, I came across a cute little soup book: 1 Stock, 50 Soups. It had a particularly yummy sounding recipe for bacon and pumpkin soup. I had pumpkin, and I had bacon. This is a simple recipe for soup. I made it quite lazily and just shoved everything into the pot and left it, but if you have more time, I recommend you cook it as directed. If you’d like to see the recipe for this hearty and comforting autumnal soup, just click below to have a nose around. Enjoy!

2tsp olive oil
2 onions {I used just one}
600g canned pumpkin {I used 3 cups of pumpkin puree}
200g smoked bacon, diced
pinch of grated nutmeg
1.2 litres basic stock
salt and pepper

Heat oil in a large saucepan. Add the onions and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes, until softened. Add the pumpkin, bacon and nutmeg, stir well, then cover and simmer, stirring occasionally for 5-8 minutes. Pour in the stick, increase the heat to medium and bring to the boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes.

While that is cooking, make the bacon croutons. Heat the oil in a frying pan. Add the bacon and fry for 4-6 minutes on each side, until crisp and it has released all its fat. Meanwhile, cut the bread into 1inch squares. Remove the bacon from the pan and drain on kitchen paper. Add the bread squares and cook, turning and tossing until golden brown all over. Remove from the pan and drain on kitchen paper.

Transfer soup to a food processor {or use hand blender} and blend until smooth. Remove the soup from the heat and ladle into warmed bowls. Sprinkle with the croutons, crumble the bacon over and serve immediately.

NOTE: I did the first step all in one go. Shoved everything into the pot and left it. The soup turned out gorgeous. Yum, yum.

Click here for a handy cooking calculator, should you prefer to measure in cups, mls, oz etc.

Oh my, pumpkin pie

Before you dump or compost your pumpkin, don’t let it go to waste. You know – the one you savagely hacked into over the weekend? It can be made into a plethora of yummy, healthy and unusual dishes for you and your family. Variety is the spice of life.

This is the perfect time to puree your pumpkin that you have carved into – any later and the inside of your pumpkin will start to get moldy. For pumpkins you have not carved, they can last for a number of months, depending on where you have them placed in your home {sunny or warm area = less time}.

The most basic way to store your pumpkin is to cook and puree it. So many pumpkin recipes call for pureed pumpkin – pumpkin pie, soup, sauce, cookies, bread, cheese, chili, fudge, mashed with potato, etc.

To puree your pumpkin: cut a lid in the top and scoop out the seeds and stringy membranes. Cut the pumpkin in half  and place cut side down on tin foil. Cook for 40 minutes at 350F/180C. To check if your pumpkin is ready, pierce it with a knife: knowing if it’s cooked will be the same as checking a potato. Don’t be surprised if your pumpkin needs more time, since the size and density of all pumpkins vary.

When your pumpkin has cooked and is cool enough to handle, peel off the skin and place the pumpkin flesh into a bowl. My weapon of choice is a hand blender. Blend that baby into a smooth puree. From here, you can use the puree immediately in a recipe, or you can freeze it for future recipes. I’m all about freezing. Freeze in small batches in stead of one big bowl. You’ll only ever need two cups of puree at a time in one recipe.

We had two pumpkins this year, so I’m hoping to try as many recipes as possible. Last night I made a scrumptious and simple pumpkin pie. A perfect and hearty accompaniment  for cold autumn nights. To check out the delicious recipe I used and tweaked where I found necessary click below to see more …

Additional note: a point my dad has made in the past – for when pumpkins are not in season and you have a hankering for pumpkin pie, make a substitute using butternut squash. Your taste buds will be none the wiser.

1 1/4 cups of pumpkin puree
1/2 cup of sugar {the original recipe called for 3/4 cups, which would be over bearingly sweet}
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/4 teaspoon of ground/dried ginger
1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon 
1 teaspoon of all-purpose flour
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup evaporated milk {I used soya cream as an alternative}
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1 blind baked pastry shell {basic pastry recipe is perfect, or if you’re lazy, store bought pastry pack will do plenty}

Pumpkin pie is really straight forward. Add all ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Pour into pastry lined pan and carefully place into the oven. Bake at 400F/200C for 15 minutes, then lower to 350F/180C for 45 minutes or until center is set. To check this, take a clean knife and insert into the center of the pie. If the knife is clean when you remove it, then the pie is perfect. If not, cook further in 10 minute shifts until set.

For a real treat, enjoy pumpkin pie with whipped cream tainted with either maple syrup or Baileys. YUM.
Click here for a handy cooking calculator, should you prefer to measure in cups, mls, oz etc.

Setting the mood

These are my most favorite movies to watch to get in the mood for Halloween. Most are from when I was younger, but there are a few recent favorites. I grew up watching Beetlejuice – the movie as well as the tv show. When I watch it these days, it makes me wonder how censored current-day children’s movies are. Beetlejuice is an effed up kids movie. But it’s awesome.
Only two of these movies truly scare me. One for good reason since I’m nyctohylophoblic, and the other thanks to a rather horrid babysitter I had when I was younger {I was barely able to google image search the movie poster}.