It's one of those things that has become, quite without design, a seasonal ritual and a family tradition: pumpkin soup.
There's something so soothing about it, not too sweet, nor too spicy, simple comfort in a time of change. There's something cheerful about a cup of the sunny liquid in a smoggy grey day or as the light falls to an early dusk.
As the festival of lights and the sibling-bonding rites bring the high Hindu festive season to a warm close, aglow with flickering diyas and satisfaction, the natural seasons flicker through their own change of guards. It's time for migrating wagtails to bob along the window sill. It's time to contend with flu-bitten family members and with one's own scratchy throat (a little too well smoked from the frenetic fireworks of suburban celebrants). It's not quite time for the winter glut of tomatoes, cauliflowers, broccoli and cabbages; but it is the season of fourteen greens, of sprouted palms and apples and other exotic fruits (like raisins, once the purview of the kabuliwallah), and of the fat marrows, gourds, squashes and pumpkins of cooler months.
The sweet yellow pumpkin turned up in the five fried or frittered vegetables of the Durga Puja feasts. The ash gourd has been looking to meet up with a few coconut curls for a while. The small, round, speckled green pumpkins have been turning up whole in their youth, rather than sliced into the wedges that maturity enjoins. And the courgette or zucchini — name determined by a marketer's whims, being both equally foreign appellations in these parts — is at its green or yellow best now, though considered a springtime special in the temperate zones.
So it was for many reasons fitting that Hallowe'en lunch fleshed out the cliche of a carved-up pumpkin and a sliced-diced-spiced green courgette ... in a cauldron of soup.