October marks the beginning of the cozy season. The nights grow long. The sky takes on a constant shade of grey, and even the sunshine seems faint. It is the perfect time to embrace warm and comforting foods. Soup is quick, easy and warm. Exactly the right sort of food for a cool fall night. While there are endless options for healthy and delicious soups, here are 3 recipes that feature one of the stars of October: The pumpkin!

Preparing pumpkin for soup:
All of these recipes can be made with either whole pumpkin or cans of pumpkin purée. Feel free to replace the pumpkin with either butternut squash or kabocha squash. Both will give the soup a pumpkin-like flavour that is actually more flavourful than using real pumpkin.
It’s easy to prepare pumpkin for soup. All that is required is a really good, heavy duty knife and a peeler.

1. Using a strong, sharp knife, cut the pumpkin in half. If you are using butternut squash, this might require some hammering.
2. Scoop out the seeds and take off the top and tail ends.
3. Using an ordinary peeler, peel the pumpkin. You don’t need to take off a thick layer of skin—it is perfectly edible, so don’t worry about any small remnants. Remove any rough-patches, because they aren’t tasty.
4. Chop the pumpkin as indicated in each recipe. For these, large chunks, about as thick as a carrot, are fine.

Mexican Bean and Pumpkin Soup
(Total Time: 40 Minutes)
This soup has a rich, sweet pumpkin base that is complimented by the addition of a Mexican flavour. The toppings are optional, but I recommend having all of them! Serve with corn chips and sour cream.

Soup Base:
1 onion
4 cloves of garlic
1 small pumpkin (or 2 cans of pumpkin purée)
2 Tbsp oil
1 Tbsp smoked paprika (or chili powder)
½ tsp ground cumin
4 cups of broth
1 Tbsp oregano
1 can of black beans
1/3 cup of cream
½ tsp salt, to taste

Toppings:
1 red pepper, finely diced
2 tomatoes, chopped
3 spring onions, chopped
¼ cup of cilantro

1. Peel the garlic. Coarsely chop the onion. If using whole pumpkin, prepare as described above.
2. Sauté vegetables until the onions are sweating.
3. Add the spices and toss to coat the vegetables.
4. Add the broth and the oregano.
5. Bring to a boil and simmer for about 15 minutes, until the pumpkin is soft.
6. Purée the soup using an immersion blender.
7. Add the black beans, cream and salt. Taste, and adjust the salt as needed.
8. Allow the soup to simmer for another 5 minutes to make sure the beans are warm.
9. Serve with your choice of toppings.

Posh Pumpkin Soup
This pumpkin soup has bacon and blue cheese for a posh pub-style soup. It is delicious with slices of buttered bread. If blue cheese is a bit too strong for your children then replace it with grated cheddar cheese or crumbled feta.

1 small pumpkin or 2 cans of pumpkin purée
2 shallots (or 1 small onion)
2 Tbsp butter
½ tsp ground cinnamon
1 pinch ground ginger
1 pinch ground nutmeg
4 cups of broth
½ tsp salt, to taste

Toppings:
6 pieces of bacon
1 cup crumbled blue cheese

1. Dice the shallot. If using whole pumpkin, prepare as described above. Sauté the vegetables in the butter until the shallot is soft, about 2 minutes.
2. Add the spices, and toss to coat the vegetables.
3. Add the broth and bring to a boil. Simmer until the pumpkin is cooked, about 15 minutes.
4. Purée the soup with an immersion blender. Add salt, and adjust seasonings as required.
5. While the soup is cooking, fry the bacon over medium heat until crispy. Crumble the bacon.
6. Top each bowl with crumbled bacon and blue cheese.

Curried Pumpkin Soup
Curried pumpkin soup is a sweet, creamy and flavourful soup. Make it as spicy as you want. Serve the soup over rice or with a piece of naan bread, for a complete meal that is warm and filling.

2 Tbsp oil
4 medium carrots
1 small pumpkin or 2 cans of pumpkin purée
1 onion
3 cloves of garlic
2 Tbsp fresh ginger
1 tsp curry powder (omit for a non-spicy soup)
8 cups of broth
2 cups of red lentils
½ cup soy sauce
1 can coconut milk
Toppings:
Cilantro
Chopped red pepper
Toasted pumpkin seeds
Sriracha

1. Coarsely chop the vegetables. If using whole pumpkin, prepare as described above.
2. Heat the oil and sauté the vegetables until the onion starts to sweat, about 5 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, peel and grate the ginger.
4. Add the curry powder and ginger, and toss to coat.
5. Add the broth and the lentils.
6. Bring to a boil and simmer for 15 minutes, until the vegetables are soft and the lentils are cooked.
7. Use an immersion blender to purée the vegetables.
8. Add the soy sauce and the coconut cream.
9. Serve with the toppings. This soup isn’t very spicy, even with the curry powder, so adults will probably enjoy a dash of sriracha.

Emillie Parrish loves having adventures with her two busy children. She lives in Victoria and is the author of the fermentation-based blog fermentingforfoodies.com.