New to Northern Soul: Tony Kitous, founder of Lebanese restaurant Comptoir Libanaisshares delicious recipes from his new cookbook Feasts from the Middle East.

Kitous says: “Squashes and pumpkin give soup a really great thick texture – which is what I particularly love about this one. The base – onion, garlic, celery and leek – features in many of my soup recipes. I love the way the flavours soften and sweeten when cooked over a low heat and, once whizzed with the main ingredient, provide body and texture.

“Although I’ve suggested using either vegetable stock (if you’re serving this to vegetarians) or chicken stock, sometimes I just use water. As long as the seasoning is right the soup will still be delicious.”

Pumpkin & Saffron Soup

Serves 6-8


50ml vegetable oil or

50g butter

1 onion, chopped

4 garlic cloves, chopped

Pumpkin & Saffron Soup2 celery sticks, chopped

½ leek, chopped

1kg baby squash or pumpkin, peeled

1 litre hot vegetable or chicken stock, or water

2 tsp salt

1 tsp black pepper

good pinch of saffron, plus a little extra to garnish


Heat the oil or butter in a medium saucepan over a medium heat and sauté the onion, garlic, celery and leek for about 5 minutes until starting to soften. If you’re using butter, you may need to turn the heat down low so the butter doesn’t burn.

Stir in the chopped squash or pumpkin, making sure it’s coated in the vegetable mixture, and cook for a minute or so. Pour in the hot stock, season, add the saffron and cover with a lid. Bring to the boil then turn the heat down low and simmer, half covered, for 15 minutes until the squash is tender.

Cool the soup a little, then blend until smooth. Ladle into bowls and serve with a little extra saffron on top.


Feasts from the Middle East is published by HQ and is now available to buy.