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Halloween Pumpkin & Pear Soup

Pumpkin & pear soup with onion scones
Pear in soup? It makes a really light, fresh addition to this hearty, earthy autumn dish andthe melted cheese on top hits every tastebud on your tongue. And let’s face it – we all have a lot of pumpkin around today!

50g unsalted butter
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
400g onions, coarsely chopped
1kg pumpkin, cut into pieces
1.2 litres vegetable stock, hot
50g pumpkin seeds
2 firm pears
freshly ground black pepper
100g mature cheddar (such as Isle
of Mull, Loch Arthur or Anster),grated, to serve

Heat the butter and olive oil in a large pan over a medium heat, then addthe onions and fry gently until translucent. This will take about 10 minutes.
Add the pumpkin, stir well, then season with salt and add the hot stock.
Reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes until the pumpkin is tender.Meanwhile, put the pumpkin seeds on a baking tray in an oven at180ºC/350ºF/Gas 4. Turn the seeds occasionally, until toasted. Set aside.

Peel the pears and chop coarsely, then add to the soup and heat through.
If the pears are ripe, they won’t need to be cooked but if they are hard,simmer for 5 minutes to soften them. Transfer the soup to a blender oruse a hand-held stick blender to blend until smooth, then add salt andpepper to taste. Serve sprinkled with plenty of cheese and the toastedpumpkin seeds to add a little crunch. Onion scones straight from the ovenare the final touch.

onion scones

Savoury scones with a hearty bowl of soup make a heavenly lunch atany time of the year but it really hits the spot in these autumn months

MAKES 10-12
150g unsalted butter, chilled, plus extra,softened, for greasing
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, very finely sliced
300g self-raising flour, plus extrafor dusting
1 tsp baking powder
100g Isle of Mull or similar maturecheddar, finely grated
1 egg
15g chives, finely chopped
200ml natural yogurt
1 tsp cayenne pepper
egg wash made from 1 egg, beaten

Heat 20g butter and the olive oil in a large pan. When they are hot, addthe onion and fry gently until translucent. This will take about 10 minutes.
Set aside. Preheat the oven to 220ºC/425ºF/Gas 7 and grease a baking tray.
Sieve the flour and baking powder into a large mixing bowl and coarselygrate the remaining chilled butter on top. Dip the butter into the flour to stop itsticking, then add the grated cheddar and rub the mixture with your fingertipsuntil it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add the egg, chives, yogurt and cayennepepper. Mix until the ingredients come away from the sides of the bowl.

Transfer to a floured surface and knead lightly. The mixture should be softenough to handle. The yogurt can make the mixture sticky so don’t be shyto add more flour if it is too sticky to handle. Roll out to about 2.5cm thick,then use a small scone or biscuit cutter to cut out the scones. Place on thegreased baking tray, brush with the egg wash and sprinkle with the friedonions. Bake for 10-12 minutes until risen and golden.

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