The texture of this soup is so velvety, it feels like it has cream in it, but in fact it's a healthy mixture of vegetables, and the creaminess comes from the silky texture of the pumpkin. It's flavoured with a collection of Lebanese spices, but if, like me, you like a kick of heat, add a whole dried chilli to the stock while it is simmering. It's not traditional but I think it gives a great punch.
- 2tbsp olive oil, plus extra to serve
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 1 garlic clove, crushed
- 1 celery stick, finely chopped
- 1 small carrot, finely chopped
- 900g pumpkin or butternut squash, peeled, deseeded and chopped
- Seeds from 3 cardamom pods, crushed
- Pinch of ground cinnamon
- Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
- 1.2l hot vegetable or chicken stock
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- To serve:
- Drizzle of tahini and olive oil
- Sprinkle of za'atar
- Small handful of chopped flat-leaf parsley
- Toasted bread
Heat the oil in a heavy-based pan and add the onion, garlic, celery and carrot. Season well with salt and pepper and gently sauté over a low heat for around 10-15 minutes until softened and starting to turn golden.
Stir in the pumpkin (or squash) and the cardamom, cinnamon and nutmeg and cook for a couple of minutes to warm the vegetables through and toast the spices.
Pour in the stock, cover with a lid and bring to the boil. Simmer for around 15 minutes until the vegetables are soft. Leave to cool a little, then transfer to a blender and whiz until smooth. Return the soup to the pan, check the seasoning and reheat gently.
To serve, divide between serving bowls. Drizzle with tahini and olive oil, then sprinkle the za'atar and parsley over the top. Serve with bread.