Autumn and autumnal produce just go together. The chill air and autumn aromas of decaying leaves require some mellow, tasty food. It is the time of harvest and harvest festivals when people bring pumpkins, peppers, marrows and courgettes along with jars of home made chutney and jam.
For those who are unable to bring produce a shop bought tin or jar from the supermarket is just as welcome. Baskets are made up to reach the more disadvantaged in the community or simply to make a gift for someone, who could do with some love and cheerfulness, which a carefully chosen gift of food can bring. This may sound like nostalgia, but it does still happen in some villages and close knit town and city communities. Food is nourishing and a gift of food can nourish the heart and soul too.
Some groups of people get together for a harvest supper, celebrating the abundance of food and sharing in it. Breaking bread together is a tradition as old as humanity and is still a solid and important part of our culture. At the same time as sharing food, recipes may also be swapped, especially if the harvest supper is a ‘bring and share’ or ‘pot luck’ supper where everyone contributes a dish to the event.
Harvest suppers are community events where people share food and swap produce and autumn recipes – like this pumpkin and red pepper soup recipe
An array of colour and different shapes and sizes of fruit and vegetables, brought together by the local community is still a wondrous sight and it should be celebrated that in spite of the demise of communities and local shops, that there is still a will to come together in this way and recognise this important season in preparing us for the long winter months.
Once chutney and jam making, picking and preserving was a normal part of the years calendar which fell away with the growth of supermarkets. But now it does seem to be making a comeback as people reconnect with food, are living on tighter budgets and recognise the value in some of the ‘old ways’. Not to mention that home made jam or chutney tastes far more real and fresh. Every batch will be slightly different reflecting the variable ingredients. This is refreshing after the uniformity of supermarket produce that they strive so relentlessly to achieve.
The more I cook and experiment with different combinations and ingredients, the more confidence I have in my own tastebuds, and my own instincts. So when it comes to the autumn harvests, it becomes easier to put things together that I think will taste nice. I do trawl around the internet and my cookery books for ideas and then put together something combining a few of those ideas – always trying to keep it simple – and low cost.
So do have a go at ideas that you think will work – use a recipe or two as a guidance and then make your own variations. If you do make your own recipe – it would be great if you share it – just as people do at large ‘bring and share’ suppers.
This recipe came from my desire to find tasty pumpkin recipes, and my need to use up a delicious looking sweet red pepper that I had bought, just because it looked so good, from our local food shop Real Food Exeter and that came from their supplier Shillingford Organics. But there was something congruous about the autumn colours and the tastes I though they would make together. The addition of a little cayenne pepper just gave it a little extra spice too!
Pumpkin And Red Pepper Soup
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 750g / 1.5lb pumpkin, chopped
- 1 red pepper, de-seeded and sliced
- 1 onion, peeled and sliced
- 750ml vegetable stock
- 2 teaspoons paprika
- Pinch cayenne pepper
- Preheat the oven to 190 degrees C
- Place the chopped pumpkin and red pepper on a roasting dish
- Drizzle with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and stir a little to ensure ut covers all the vegetables
- Place in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes until the vegetables are starting to car slightly
- Meanwhile, heat the remaining olive oil in a saucepan
- Saute the onions
- Add the pepper an pumpkin and cook for 2-3 minutes
- Add the stock, paprika and cayenne pepper
- Bring back to the boil and simmer for 20 minutes
- Process in a blender
- Reheat and serve immediately with crusty bread
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