All Things Halloween
For most October 31st is known as Halloween and is a night for dressing up, telling ghost stories, having spooky parties, trick-or-treating and pumpkin carving. What most people don’t know is that Halloween is actually based on an ancient Celtic holiday known as Samhain, which means “summer’s end”.
It was the end of the Celtic year, starting at sundown on October 31st and going through to sundown November 1st. It was a night to honour loved ones that had passed on since apparently the veil between their realm and ours is at its thinnest on that night.
Celebrated for centuries by the Celts of old, Witches and many other nature based religions, it is the most magical night of the year. It is the Witches’ New Year, and the Last Harvest. Although the religious significance of it may have passed, Halloween is a “magical” night for all!
Halloween festivities are not complete without a pumpkin carved into a jack-o-lantern. When you’ve carved your masterpiece use the fleshy inside to make a delicious soup. Check out our video below to see how you do it.
- 4 tbsp plive oil
- 2 onions, finely chopped
- 1kg pumpkin or squash peeled, deseeded and chopped into chunks
- 700 ml of vegetable or chicken stock
- 142 ml double cream
- 4 slices of wholemeal seeded bread
- Handful of pumpkin seeds
- Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a large saucepan, then gently cook 2 finely chopped onions for 5 mins, until soft but not coloured.
- Add 1 kg peeled, deseeded and chopped pumpkin or squash to the pan, then carry on cooking for 8-10 mins, stirring occasionally until it starts to soften and turn golden.
- Pour 700 ml vegetable stock into the pan, then season with salt and pepper. Bring to the boil, then simmer for 10 mins until the squash is very soft. Pour the 142 ml pot of double cream into the pan, bring back to the boil, then purée with a hand blender. For an extra-velvety consistency you can now push the soup through a fine sieve into another pan. The soup can now be frozen for up to 2 months.
- While the soup is cooking, slice the crusts from 4 slices of wholemeal seed bread, then cut the bread into small croutons. Heat the remaining 2 tbsp olive oil in a frying pan, then fry the bread until it starts to become crisp.
- Add a handful of pumpkin seeds to the pan, then cook for a few mins more until they are toasted. These can be made a day ahead and stored in an airtight container. Reheat the soup if needed, taste for seasoning, then serve scattered with croutons and seeds and drizzled with more olive oil, if you want.
Did you know?
A pumpkin is really a squash, and comes from the same family as the cucumber. They can be grown all over the world but most popularly in Illinois, America. Pumpkin carving was taken to the US by the Irish, who started carving turnips for their annual Samhain holiday. They soon found that pumpkins were easier to carve than turnips.
There are over 50 different types of pumpkin and they have great names such as Spooktacular, the Funny Face and the Munchkin. The smallest pumpkins can weigh as little as 2 lb, whilst the largest you can commonly grow can weigh over 150 lbs. You’ll need a big garden for that one!
The biggest pumpkin ever grown weighed in at over one tonne! In fact it weighed 2009 lbs and was grown by a man from Rhode Island who already held the record for growing a beast of a pumpkin weighing 1500 lbs. Perhaps we should give him a run for his money in our allotment.