Percy Pumpkin Soup, version 2, 15p a portion, and top quality singing for the price of an internet connection

Oct 25, 2014 | 0 comments


A variation on Percy Pumpkin soup today. We don’t really ‘do’ Halloween, so after the fun of yesterday, Percy was roasted off in the oven this morning, peeled and turned into soup.

Forgot to weigh him, but he was a small one. I used 200g red lentils, twice as much spice and lots more water.
I didn’t want soup tasting of coconut today, so just left that out. It was lovely, similar to Curried Parsnip Soup.

So taking the recipe from yesterday, and just leaving out the coconut, it comes to a very good value 59p, or 15p a portion

Spiced Pumpkin Soup – sans coconut
1 Tblsp oil, £1.25/litre 2p
an onion, chopped, 5p
the innards of a carved pumpkin, probably 200g, Asda £1.50 per pumpkin, 1/8 = 20p
clove garlic, 5p
tsp grated ginger, Asda TRS brand, £1.00/300g, 2p
tbslp curry powder, Asda Rajah brand hot or mild Madras 65p/100g, 5p
100g red lentils, £1/500g 20p
Total 59p, serves 4, 15p a portion

Cook the onions in the oil until transparent. Add the garlic, ginger and curry powder and sizzle for a minute. Add the pumpkin, lentils and 400ml water. Simmer gently for 15 minutes.

Whizz everything until smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste.

The ladies suggest sprinkling over toasted pumpkin seeds or toasted coconut to serve.

As yesterday, variations include leaving out the red lentils, or adding any other cooked bean. Leave them whole, whizz them up or do half and half. The curry can be anything at all. So a tblsp of any curry paste, say Balti, Rogan Josh or Jalfrezi, or any curry powder mix. Or you could use any separate powders. If I was doing that, I would use a tsp each of coriander, cumin and turmeric, and a bit of chilli from the greenhouse.

I added a couple of small apples to my big mix, cored and chopped, not peeled.

Some leftover roasted vegetables would be lovely in this.


The opera yesterday was interesting. I’m glad I saw it, as it was a new one to me, but I don’t think I would go to see it again.   Turn of the Screw felt too discordant and there were no striking, set piece arias. The voices were marvellous, and there were two children in the cast of just  six.  A girl, who could have been a young woman, I couldn’t tell, and a young lad of choir boy age, who did his stuff beautifully.

But I prefer the soaring, melodic romance of the Italian composers – Verdi and Puccini especially. Verdi’s  La Traviata is my favourite opera and one of the two I first came to love,  today it is one of the most popular of all opera’s. There is one small piece in it where the dying Violetta is leaving her lover Alfredo (who doesn’t know yet) as his father has deemed her not good enough for him, as a courtesan.  As she leaves, she sings ‘love me Alfredo, love me as I love you’, and every single time, it makes me cry. I am even tearing up writing this! Then there is Rigoletto,  the towering Aida, Nabucco, with the very popular piece Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves,” Va, pensiero, sull’ali dorate, and many other works.

Puccini wrote  Tosca, Madama Butterfly, Turandot and La Boheme, the very first opera I came to love. What an incredible legacy to leave the world. They have some of the most gorgeous, best loved arias and duets sung by many of the best singers in the world.  How about  Che gelida manina, more commonly known as ‘your tiny hand is frozen’  from La Boheme, sung by the magnificent Luciano Pavarotti, in his prime, as Rodolpho, and with Fiamma Izzo d’ Amico as Mimi, singing “Si, mi chiamano Mimi, ‘Yes, my name is Mimi’ .  Ten minutes of sheer perfection. In the full opera, they go on to sing of their newly minted love, in another magnificient duet.

You don’t need much money to enjoy such glorious stuff. If you have access to an internet connection and YouTube,  you will be able to find huge amounts of top quality opera. I find it emotional, magnificent and very very uplifting.  Well worth the effort of getting to know it.

You may hate it of course, and shudder at the very thought. It’s not for everyone I know.




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