Roasted Pumpkin Soup with Thyme and Gruyère

This one is a firm favourite, from a Rick Stein Recipe
3kg-4 kg unpeeled pumpkin, or butternut squash
2 olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper
75g/3oz butter
2 medium onions, chopped
8 small sprigs fresh thyme, leaves only, extra leaves to garnish
2.25litres/4 pints vegetable stock
1 tsp salt
300ml/½ pint single cream
175g/6oz Gruyère cheese, coarsely grated

1. Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6.
2. Cut the pumpkin or squash into chunky wedges and scoop away all the fibres and seeds. Rub the wedges with oil, season well with salt and freshly ground black pepper, then place them into one large or two smaller roasting tins, skin-side down. Transfer to the oven to roast for 30 minutes, or until tender.
3. Remove the pumpkin from the oven and, when cool enough to handle, slice away and discard the skin and cut the flesh into small chunks.
4. Melt the butter in a large pan. Add the onion and half the thyme leaves and cook gently for about ten minutes until the onion is very soft but not browned. Add the roasted pumpkin, any juices from the plate, the stock and one teaspoon of salt. Cover and simmer gently for 20 minutes.
5. Leave the soup to cool slightly, then add the remaining thyme leaves and liquidise in batches until smooth. Return to a clean pan and bring back to a gentle simmer.
6. Stir in the cream and season, to taste, with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Ladle into warmed bowls and place a small handful of the grated Gruyère into the centre of each. Scatter a few more thyme leaves on top and serve.

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