PUMPKIN LENTIL SOUP with Orange Rosemary Butter + Part Two: Sowing Seeds in Punnets

Pumpkin Lentil Soup / Homegrown Kitchen

Pumpkin Lentil Soup with Orange & Rosemary Butter

This simple soup is nourishing and warming after a morning of sowing seeds. With the addition of the lentils to provide protein it makes a perfect lunch or light dinner. The flavoured butter (compound butter as we called it in my chef days) adds depth to the soup making it not-just-any pumpkin soup. I like to use a pressure cooker for this soup as it takes a third of the time to cook but it can also be cooked in a large pot.


  • 1 cup red split lentils
  • 1 leek washed and roughly chopped
  • 2 carrots peeled and roughly chopped
  • 2 stalks celery chopped OR 1 cup celeriac, diced
  • Approx. 1.5kg crown pumpkin peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 litre homemade chicken stock
  • peeled zest of 1/2 orange
  • Sprig of rosemary
  • Pinch of sea salt


  • Soak the lentils for several hours then rinse well and combine in a large pot/ pressure cooker with the remaining soup ingredients. Bring to the boil then simmer for around 30 minutes until vegetables are tender. Alternatively use a pressure cooker, timing for 10 minutes once the valve pops up. Remove the woody rosemary stalk and purée with a stick blender. Season to taste.
  • Serve soup with a 5mm round of orange rosemary butter allowing to melt then stir through the soup.


Orange Rosemary Butter
In a bowl combine 100g room temperature butter, 1 tsp finely chopped rosemary, 1 tsp orange zest and pinch of sea salt (omit if using salted butter).
Use a fork to thoroughly combine the butter and flavours. Tip onto grease-proof paper and roll into a 3cm wide log twisting the ends to secure. Chill to set.

Following on from last weeks post about direct sowing seeds into the garden, this week I am sharing how I sow seeds into punnets. I use this method for heat loving seeds such as tomatoes, capsicums, chilli’s, cucumber, zucchini, squash, (plus brassicas – broccoli, cauliflower, kale, cabbage, kohlrabi – who require a little TLC). In New Zealand, particularly the South Island, where we only have the three summer months of long hot days these heat loving plants require some assistance indoors to get started.

Early to mid august I organise my seeds, order what I need, and sow my punnets. Here is how I do it:

You will need:

Punnets/ containers (always hold onto empty seedling trays) – vines and creepers (tomatoes, zucchini etc.) don’t like being replanted too many times so sowing them into individual punnets is preferable.
Labels – always name and date seeds – ice-block sticks work well. I like to grow a selection of heritage tomatoes each season so naming helps determine what varieties are our favourite to save seed and grow again next season.
Seed raising mix – this can be purchased from garden centers. Or make your own: 1 part organic compost, 1 part leaf mould and 1 part fine sand.

What to do:

  1. First decide what and how many seeds you are going to sow. For our family of four I plant around 8 tomatoes (4 medium/large, 4 cherry tomatoes), 2-3 zucchini, 6 cucumbers, half a dozen pumpkin/squash, plus several capsicum and chilli plants.
  2. Get your containers and labels ready. Scoop the seed raising mix into the punnets/ containers. Tap to distribute soil evenly and pack firmly to a minimum 5cm soil depth. It is important the soil is packed evenly for proper water distribution.
  3. Use your little finger to mark indents for the seeds in the soil. Now carefully drop two seeds into each indentation (I double up and use 2 seeds per hole as insurance). Sprinkle with extra seed raising mix so to cover the seeds by 2 times their size and gently press to smooth the surface.
  4. Once all the seeds are sown and labeled, water them well with a fine-mist spray bottle (so not to disturb the seeds) cover with a dark plastic bag or newspaper and leave in a warm dark place to germinate. I put mine on top of the fridge where it is warm (hot water cupboards and heat pads are also a good option to ensure germination). Every few days check the soil is damp to touch, spraying with more water if needed.
  5. Once the first shoots raise their heads remove the plastic bag/newspaper and place the punnets in a warm sunny position during the day to grow. If you take them outside remember to bring in at night so they don’t get too cold.
  6. When the first two lateral leaves are formed (see photo below) you can prick-out any extra seedlings (choose the smaller plants to remove) so there is only one seedling per punnet/ container.
  7. Once any sign of frost has passed harden-off the seedlings first by leaving in a covered-area outside overnight then in a nice sheltered corner of the garden.

Traditionally Labour day (Last Monday of October) is the time to plant out tomato seedlings in the garden. I like to jump ahead a little here and get mine in a week or so earlier, using reusable 1.5 litre fizzy bottles with their bottoms cut off to cover the seedlings overnight (like a small cloche), taking them off during the day when the sun is warm. *Update 2017: we have since built a glasshouse from recycled windows to grow heat-lovers indoors, I now transplant tomato seedlings to the glasshouse late September/early October.

P.S. Here is  a little a video on how to save tomato seeds.

Sowing Seeds / Homegrown Kitchen

Sowing Seeds / Homegrown Kitchen

Sowing Seeds / Homegrown Kitchen

Sowing Seeds / Homegrown Kitchen

Sowing Seeds / Homegrown Kitchen

Sowing Seeds / Homegrown Kitchen

Sowing Seeds / Homegrown Kitchen




Join the Conversation

  1. I have never tried the newspaper trick. Might have been helpful to stop the mice stealing all the seeds. This weekend I am going to be setting up the seed trays in the conservatory instead so the mice won’t have their usual gourmet fill :o) Nice soup too, that will do nicely for Monday’s dinner. Hope your blog redesign behaves soon for you. It is so frustrating when things don’t go quite to plan (I share your pain!).

    1. Covering the seeds is also important for the seed sprouting process. They like it dark and warm. Once they sprout then they like the light.
      Thanks for your kind words about the redesign. It has been a difficult few days but we will get there I am sure.

  2. This soup is getting me excited for fall. Sounds like such a lovely and hearty soup for those colder days.

    1. Thanks Lindsey. I spend most of my blog reading on the other side of the world and often have to bookmark favorite recipes to make in 6 months. At least I get to have a taste of summer in the middle of winter 🙂

  3. Its late winter here (NZ) at the moment and your soup recipe really sounds delicious – will fill a gap with something different!

    1. Thanks Gabrielle, it is lovely. Enjoy 🙂

  4. Could I use chickpeas (or any other beans) instead of lentils Nicola? Maybe add cooked ones at the end and puree?

    1. Hi Margaret, I am sure you could although I haven’t tried this so I am not sure of the flavour.

  5. Nalita Tei says:

    Thanks for sharing this, I have tried saving tomato seeds for the first time & it was good to see this as a reminder to get them into pots! The info was perfect, I would have jumped straight into the hardening up phase, haha. Fingers crossed!

    1. Hi Nalita, tomatoes do like to be mollycoddled until they are big and strong! Happy growing 🙂

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