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!