Well, in this case, pumpkin—but same difference, right? I honestly can’t tell you how excited I am that it’s well and truly autumn, at last! It’s my favorite time of year, hands down. Yes, it’s hard to beat spring fruit and summer berries, early harvest tomatoes and late summer corn. Okay, maybe I really do love all of the produce available for the entire farmers’ market season, but the fall harvest really does hold a special place in my heart.
This past weekend was, for me, the first of the season. It was chilly outside, and the prior week I picked up a couple of pumpkins. So, what better to do on a drizzly Sunday afternoon than settle in and make pumpkin soup? (The answer: there IS nothing better!)
Often, when I mention to someone that I’m going to make pumpkin soup or pumpkin pie “from scratch,” I get a mystified look. Can you even do that? The answer is: yes! And it’s fun. And ridiculously easy. So easy, in fact, that I’ll show you how I did it.
(And after reading this, I expect you to go out to your local farmer’s market and pick up some pumpkins! Even if you don’t want to make pies or soup right now, you can freeze the pumpkin pulp and save it for the holidays.)
I picked up two different kinds of pie pumpkin—a small Blue Hubbard (as you might guess, it’s the blue one in the foreground of the picture to the left) and a New England Cheese pumpkin. The Blue Hubbard has very sweet, dark flesh, and the New England Cheese is subtly sweet and very smooth.
After washing them off, you can just pop them into the oven at 400 degrees for 60 to 90 minutes. Stab a knife through the rind and into the pumpkin meat a few times, and rub olive oil over the exterior. When you can put a fork into the pumpkin as if it were butter, it’s done. It’ll look something like this when you take it out of the oven:
After you pull it out of the oven, you can just split it in half (easy as pie!):
Scoop out the seeds and dispose of them (or wash and save them for drying if you like), then simply scoop out the flesh from the rind and do with it what you like! Find a good pumpkin soup recipe, make a pie, or just eat it with butter and maple syrup (yum!).
In my case, I pulled the vegetable stock bag out of the freezer (in my household, we save all of the nonedible parts of our vegetables and freeze them for later use) and made a great stock to use as a base for the pumpkin soup. You can add a whole chicken—or even just the leftover bones—to the stock if you want that extra bit of protein.
The point of all this is to let you know that even pumpkins, typically the largest of the squash family, are super easy to process and enjoy at home. More farmers are catching on to this trend, too, so when you’re out looking for Jack-o-Lantern candidates, you should be able to find some pie or soup candidates too.
Once you’ve processed the squash or pumpkin, you can do many different things with it. On Söntés’ current farm-to-table dinner menu, you can even find it for dessert (Butternut Squash Gnocchi, to die for!).
Want to know how my pumpkin soup turned out? Excellent! Topped with cream, caramelized onions, sunflower seeds, hemp hearts, and caramelized kale. (Don’t get me started on kale! That’s another post entirely.)
Oh. So. Good.
Now, go get yourself some local squash and enjoy the autumn weather!