- Heat the oil in a large saucepan. Add the onion and cook over a moderate heat for 5 minutes until softened. Add the pumpkin and cook for 4–5 minutes or until softened but not browned. Use a draining spoon to remove 100 g (3½ oz) of the fried onion and pumpkin mixture and reserve it for the muffins.
- Add the potato, garlic and rosemary to the pan. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally, then pour in the stock and add seasoning to taste. Bring to the boil. Reduce the heat, cover the pan and leave to simmer for 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, make the muffins. Preheat the oven to 220ºC (425ºF, gas mark 7). Finely chop the reserved fried pumpkin and onion, then place in a bowl. Add the hazelnuts, flour, baking powder, butter, chopped rosemary, eggs and milk. Use a fork to mix the ingredients together until evenly combined.
- Place 12 deep paper muffin cases in a muffin tray with cups 5 cm (2 in) in diameter and 3 cm (1 1/4 in) deep. Divide the mixture among the cases. Bake for 12–15 minutes or until risen, golden and cracked across the top. Remove the muffins from the tray and wrap them in a clean tea-towel to keep them warm.
- Purée the soup in a blender or food processor until smooth, or purée in the pan using a hand-held blender. Return the soup to the pan, if necessary, and stir in the milk and fromage frais. Reheat gently but do not boil. Taste and adjust the seasoning.
- Ladle the soup into warm bowls. Garnish with fromage frais, paprika and sprigs of rosemary, and serve with the warm muffins.
For a spicy pumpkin and sweet potato soup, use peeled and diced sweet potato instead of ordinary potato. Add 1 tsp coarsely crushed cumin seeds, 2 tsp coarsely crushed coriander seeds and a 2.5 cm (1 in) piece of fresh root ginger, peeled and finely chopped, with the garlic instead of the rosemary. Just before serving, add a dash of chilli sauce, such as Tabasco, for a hint of chilli heat. Garnish the soup with fromage frais, a sprinkle of ground cumin and chopped fresh coriander.
As well as being an excellent source of beta-carotene, pumpkin also provides several other antioxidants including lutein and zeaxanthin. These are believed to help protect against age-related macular degeneration (AMD), an eye disease that affects 20% of people over the age of 65 and is the leading cause of blindness in the western world. * Hazelnuts are a rich source of vitamins B1, E and niacin. They also provide useful amounts of calcium, iron and zinc, and are a good source of the essential fatty acids.
Each serving provides
B1, E * A, B2, B6, niacin, calcium, potassium, zinc * C, folate, iron