With a father who played and refereed rugby, I grew up with the sport. I was never going to be a player, what with my two club feet and general lack of athletic ability, but I have always been a very good rugby fan. One of the first journalism jobs I did was reporting for my local paper on the 1991 Rugby World Cup at the age of 15 – I fear my career may have peaked too soon… Anyway, over the decades, I’ve watched indecent amounts of rugby, either at grounds around the world, or on telly. And that’s where this recipe comes in – I can time it around watching a rugby union (or rugby league…) match on TV. I do the prep before the broadcast, roast the vegetables during the first half, blend it all together at half time and then put it on a low simmer during the second half. By full time, there’s a lovely pumpkin soup ready to devour. Don’t be afraid to try other herbs or spices in the soup – pumpkin works really well with all manner of seasonings so do some experimenting. I have also included the ingredients for a spicy, Thai-style variation within the recipe – I have made this for Christmas dinners in Australia and the UK. Both times, I was able to win over sceptical elderly relatives who weren’t sure it was a festive starter. It’s damn festive, I say!

Rugby match roast pumpkin soup


  • 1 pumpkin or butternut pumpkin, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 large carrot, sliced
  • 1 large potato, cubed
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 30g butter
  • Olive oil for basting
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • A sprinkling of nutmeg (substitute chilli powder and dried or powdered coriander for the Thai-style variation)
  • 4ooml stock (I prefer vegetable stock but any stock will do the job)
  • 2ooml double cream or creme fraiche (or 400ml of coconut cream for the Thai-style variation)


  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.
  2. In a soup pot, fry the onion in butter until soft and set aside.
  3. Arrange the chopped pumpkin, carrot and potato on a baking tray and baste with olive oil. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg (or the Thai-style alternatives). Roast for 40 minutes or until suitably soft.
  4. Put all the vegetables in a blender with the stock and whizz until smooth.
  5. Return the blended mix to the pot and add the double cream, creme fraiche or coconut cream. Stir well.
  6. Get a clean teaspoon and have a taste – feel free to adjust the herbs and spices to taste.
  7. Simmer on a very low heat for 30-40 minutes and serve. Pumpkin soup is usually helped enormously by a dollop of sour cream, a sprinkling of chives and some warm bread.

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