Recipe | Pumpkin, saffron and orange soup

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Pumpkin, saffron & orange soup with caramelised pumpkin seeds - an Ottolenghi recipe

The chilly winds and dark evenings of autumn can dull our mood as well as our skin, but it is also a season bountiful in rich, re-mineralising foods which can bring back a peachy complexion.

Soup is a favourite for autumn, simple and warming, and a pumpkin soup is full of seasonal goodness. Pumpkin contains high levels of Zinc, which helps control hormone levels and oil production, making it a wonderfully balancing ingredient to use at this time of year, when the unsettled weather can disrupt your body and apocrine system. Rich is essential fatty acids and Vitamin E, it supports the good barrier function of skin, regulates sebum production, and aids in skin healing. Pumpkin is rich in anti-oxidant vitamins A and C, which help to soften and soothe tired skin with a boost of collagen.

This recipe serves 6, making it a wonderful choice for a warming feast with friends, or for keeping extras in the freezer for nights when you’re just too tired!

2 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, finely diced
550g pumpkin flesh, cut into 2cm cubes
2 medium carrots, thinly sliced
1 tsp saffron fronds
1 litre water or vegetable stock
2 tsp grated orange zest
6 tbsp crème fraîche
Salt and white pepper

For the pumpkin seeds:
1 tbsp sunflower oil 
60g pumpkin seeds 
1 tbsp golden (or maple syrup) syrup
½ tbsp soft brown sugar
½ tsp salt
1 pinch ground black pepper
1 big pinch cayenne pepper

First prepare the seeds. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4. Line an oven tray with greaseproof paper and brush with sunflower oil. Put the pumpkin seeds in a bowl with all the other ingredients, spread over the tray and bake for 12-15 minutes, stirring a few times, until a nice, golden colour. Leave to cool down.
Heat the oil in a heavy-based saucepan, add the onion, season and sauté over high heat for a minute, stirring all the time. Reduce the heat to low and cook for 10-12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until soft, sweet and golden brown, but not very dark.
Add the pumpkin, carrot and saffron, pour in water or stock to cover the vegetables and bring to a boil. Lower the heat, cover and simmer for 15 minutes, until the pumpkin and carrots are almost tender. Add the orange zest and simmer for five minutes longer. When the vegetables are thoroughly cooked, blitz the soup with a hand blender or liquidiser - you want it with a bit of texture, not too smooth. Add extra water or stock if it is too thick. Season to taste.
Serve in shallow bowls with a dollop of crème fraîche and a sprinkling of the caramelised seeds.