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Carpet of leavesRed leaves
The leaves are turning, the nights are drawing in and rich, autumnal food awaits. It’s amazing how nature reflects its bounty — when the earth is a carpet of reds, browns and golds, we’re blessed with juicy cranberries, sweet chestnuts and glorious squash of every shape and size.

Coincidentally, it’s just at this time of year, as the days turn crisp and chilly, that we crave steaming bowls of soups — a form to which squash adapt rather well. This recipe was just made by what I had to hand, but any similar squash or root veg would work just as well.

Pumpkin & carrot soup
Serves 4

Bowl of soup1 medium cooking pumpkin, peeled and deseeded
4 medium carrots
1 yellow pepper
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 vegetable stock cubes
½ nutmeg
3 sprigs fresh tarragon, leaves removed
sour cream and chives, to serve

Carrot & pumpkin soupRoughy chop the pumpkin, carrots and pepper and tip into a large saucepan. Add the garlic, crumble in the stock cubes and pour over 1.5 litres of boiling water. Stir well until the stock cubes are dissolved. Simmer for 20-30 mins until all the veg is soft, then take off the heat and leave to stand for 5 mins.

Grate in the nutmeg, add the tarragon and blend together until smooth, then season to taste. You probably won’t need extra salt as the stock cubes are quite salty, but a good grinding of black pepper will pep it up a bit. Ladle into bowls, and swirl through 1 tbsp sour cream. Finish with a few snipped chives on top.

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