when the greenhouse is trashed make soup

When the trashed greenhouse is waiting for you to get your ACT together, the weather is foul and you just don’t fancy dragging yourself  out and up the hill to the allotment I’ve found time spent in the kitchen satisfies – as does soup, aka potage au potiron.

Thank you for all your messages of support, it means the world to me and I know having friends like you guys is precious. How can I thank you? A start would be inviting you all to share a bowl of soup with me. Imagine sitting down to lunch with you all – that would be one hell of  a lunch party!!

Crown Prince 2The recipe comes from Jane Grigson who in turn snaffled the idea from Orléanais region. That’s the way with recipes, they are once tasted, later tested and promptly passed on.  A bit like the naming of pumpkins; we start out in Central America where pumpkins originate from but move to Europe for a modern day definition –  the word pumpkin originating from the Greek “Pepon”  which roughly  translates as large melon (more of melon’s later). The French later adapted the word Pepon to Pompon, the British changed the French Pompon to Pumpion and the Americans changed it to Pumpkin.  So where does the Potiron come from – the modern day catch all French for winter squash. There’s time travel in international language for you!

Back to the Greek for large melon – have you ever cut into a pumpkin and smelt the flesh – it smells of melon, sweet and honey-like and yet when cooked not a trace of melon remains. The Greeks knew what they were on to.

Crown Prince halved and slices

I’m using Crown Prince, an Australian Blue pumpkin, whose flesh is firm, dense  and bright orange, the skin thin and the seeds large, it cooks well and holds shape, isn’t  stringy, stores well and simply put is the best pumpkin variety that I grow. If I could only grow one variety of pumpkin it would be Crown Prince – reliable, a good size and tasty, remember the most important element is the taste!  It needs room  to grow as it sends out long vines, I’ve seen them reach 20 feet, they produce 2 or 3 good sized fruit per plant (so not overly prolific) usually weighing in at a respectable 1.5kg. Am I overselling it? Probably.

This one was, admittedly a bit of a brute to cut into – it took a sharp heavy knife, a few attempts and a lot of pressure to cut into it. Peeled and de-seeded it morphed into Pumpkin Bread, Savoury Pumpkin Pie, Pumpkin Cake and of course the leftover parts went into soup.

For a change I used a recipe and I’m glad I did. Leeks paired with Turnip cosied up nicely with pumpkin – smooth, satisfying with a hint of leek and not an over powering sense of pumpkin. For me the surprise was the lack of seasonings, I’d normally load a soup up with lots of herbs, garlic and anything that take my fancy on the day. I resisted the urge to veer from the recipe and in doing so learnt that not everything needs garlic or white wine adding to it to “enhance” the flavour.

I decorated the soup for the photo with a few snips of fresh chives from the garden. The chives are the first herbs to make a re-appearance, a welcome sight after the rains of winter. The fresh green shoots lighting up the bare earth and delighting my tastebuds once brought indoors into the kitchen.

Crown Prince soup

Potage au Potiron

Simple French Pumpkin Soup by Jane Grigson

serves 4 as a starter


  • 20g butter
  • 1 leek, sliced
  • 100g turnip diced
  • 350g pumpkin diced
  • 3/4 litre of vegetable stock
  • 1 tbs crème fraiche
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 tbs chopped chives


  • On a low heat melt the butter in a large pan
  • Add the sliced leek and gently soften it in the butter *approx. 10 to 15 minutes)
  • When the leek is soft and the turnip and pumpkin and continue to cook and soften the vegetables (another 5 to 10 minutes)
  • Add the vegetable stock and bring to a simmer, partially cover the pan, turn the heat down and cook for 30 to 40 minutes until the pumpkin is very soft
  • Blend the mixture to a fine smooth soup
  • If the soup seems a little thick add some water to thin it down (a bit at a time)
  • Return the soup to the heat, add a generous tablespoon of crème fraiche  and mix it in
  • Check the seasonings and add salt and pepper as needed
  • Pour into bowls and sprinkle some chopped chives on op


  • I was so sorry to read about your green house….and glad you have turned dismay into an amazing sounding soup! Our chives are up, and oh that happy green glow is a welcome sight. I haven’t seen these blue pumpkins before – thank you and wow!

  • I’m pretty sure this is the type of pumpkin we used in our cooking class in Lyon a couple of years ago; if I recall correctly it has an enormously hard skin and is brutal to cut through. We put scallops browned in butter into the soup for garnish. It was glorious! I didn’t think of growing pumpkin but I might!

  • another true culinary delight! Beautiful results, and pics!
    I also learned a new word…”snaffled”. Like that one a lot and will be using it as soon as the situation warrants!

    • Snaffled is a great term 🙂 I’m sure you will find plenty of opportunities to use it and no doubt with great fun results ! Hope you have a great week

  • The soup looks delicious even if turnips and pumpkins are not my first choice for ingredients. The Crown Prince pumpkin sounds pretty special.

  • It’s the stock and the butter that adds to the flavour. Like you, I’m always changing the original recipe. But you get into the habit after forty odd years in the kitchen. Your recipe sounds simply delicious. Think I’ll add some red lentils and barley to it when I make the soup. 🙂

    • red lentils are a favourite of mine. I used barley recently and to make you laugh as I hadn’t used them in ages I completely forgot how the swell and generally take-over. You can imagine the results 🙂

  • Claire, your photos … and your posts – is just so beautiful … Love pumpkin soup.
    What a fantastic recipe you have served us here. Easy and not too many ingredients.
    Wonder if I can get any pumpkins this time … and not too big. Thank you so much for the “pumpkin” lesson. I really like the word – “Pepon”
    I wish you a pleasant weekend.

  • Deeelish! And doesn’t the pumpkin look so much like one of those sweet melons (charentais? honeydew?) Pepino in Spanish is a little cucumber – similar word to Pepon and I guess from the same family!

    • Yup from the same family Chica 🙂 I haven’t had a Charentais melon in years – I need to plan my life a bit more as they remind me of my very first meal in France (a gazillion and one years ago) 🙂

  • I’ll bring bread, and how about a fresh, light wine? 🙂

    Since coming back ‘west’ I’m revelling in the subtle flavours of unadulterated cooking – this looks very interesting, with the turnip doing the alchemy with the sweetness of the pumpkin. Looking forward to winter to give it a go.

    • definitely bring some wine 🙂
      and its interesting isn’t it about east-west flavours, I eat a lot of Indian or south east Asian food, love it but sometimes I just want the truly simple vegetable taste to shine through – mind you there was a LOT of butter to help with the flavour of this soup 🙂

  • What a beautiful informative story to go along with a soulwarming soup which we Australians tend to think of as almost one of our national dishes. The ‘blue’ is a beautiful pumpkin but my weak wrists have a fight with cubing it each and every time . . .have to try your recipe as use leek but have not included turnip . . . actually parsnip gives the concoction a lovely flavour also . . .

    • Of course you Aussie would be right to consider/think of it as a national dish!
      I wonder, I’ve never tried this but might just have to one day, about using these pumpkins when they are a bit younger? I mean this pumpkin was brought indoors in autumn and has been sitting around for at least 4 months so the skin would have toughened up a lot in that time, an din using them when younger the skins my not be so tough for your weak wrists. Hope you have a super week Eha x

      • Well, I do not have enough garden space to grow my own – so they come from the supermarket, boo-hoo!! However, I oft get around this by buying the already cubed version: not as fresh, but . . .

  • What a beautifully rich soup, Claire. It just sounds so comforting and satisfying. And the color is gorgeous. I love the idea of sharing a meal with you–one giant party with all your blogging friends together would be a dream. 🙂 I really enjoyed learning more about “pumpkin history.” And “potiron” is completely new to me! I like learning new words. I hope before long the weather gives you the necessary inspiration to get back to your allotment and the beginnings of a spring garden! ox

  • potage au potiron sounds so much more elegant than pumpkin soup, doesn’t it? And, ah, creme fraiche! What could be more delightful in any vegetable potage.

  • Mmm this soup just looks so breadly dippable!
    And that pumpkin is so wonderful from how you describe it! 😀

    Choc Chip Uru

    • I find pumpkin so versatile in the kitchen and I especially love the ones that store so well so you don’t have a monster sized glut on your hands!

    • 🙂 I think the turnip’s “pepperyness” lightens the sweetness of the pumpkin…. so maybe you could forgive me a little more 🙂

  • Alas the squash is all gone for the season now at our house. But I do think soup-making is a fine comfort activity. Considering some myself today…

    • we’ve been making/eating fridge soup this last few days – a real melange and finished off with a sprinkling of parsley from the garden 🙂

  • I was totally unaware of the storm’s impact on your allotment and shed. I don’t blame you for not wanting to go over there just yet. It’s still a shock. You’ve put a lot of work in that allotment and seeing it in this shape isn’t easy. This will surely pass but give yourself a little time to come to terms with what happened. Making soup sounds, to me, like a step in the right direction. In fact, if you lived near here, I’d bring over a pot of soup for you. And then tomorrow we’d take care of that shed together. Once completed, we’d have little choice but to go to the pub to celebrate with a pint — or three. 🙂

    • John, you are so kind, thank you x I’m sure one day very soon, I’ll be putting my boots on and getting on up there to have a good old Spring Clean.
      Now back to this soup and the imminent trip to the pub, do you think we could get away with only three beers…..

  • I didn’t know it had that name. I know it as Kabocha or Japanese pumpkin. Way better than the typical American we carve for Halloween. Naturally sweet. Soup looks just yum. I’ll have to cut ours open soon.

    • Hi there, I know what you mean about the carving pumpkins – they really are tasteless. Good to hear you can get interesting pumpkins though, I’ve grown Kabocha types in previous years and found them tasty, I believe they are a different variety – but as I said tasty too!

  • Soup to nourish the heart and soul- yours and of the greenhouse. Very sad to see that photo in the last post. And I’m sorry I haven’t been your way in such a while- my blogging is going through feasts and famines. Happy Spring cheers… wendy

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