All hail the Great Pumpkin! (with a hat-tip to Charles Schulz and Linus)
Autumn’s signature symbol is in its full orange glory this month. Cultivated in the Americas for at least 6,000 years, the pumpkin is very versatile and adapts well to both sweet and savory dishes. It also has delicious seeds to roast and snack on, and makes a wonderful home decoration, indoors or out. What’s not to like?
If you have a hankering to create a pumpkin-flavored edible, don’t automatically reach for the can on the pantry shelf. Try slow-roasting a fresh pumpkin in the oven (after slicing it in half and removing the seeds and “innards”). When the flesh is soft, scoop it into a blender to make a puree to
use in your favorite recipes.
Did you know that the best carving pumpkin is the Howden variety? It only dates back to the 1970s, when a farmer named John Howden developed a pumpkin that was ribbed, smooth, deep orange in color, and durable. So if carving a jack-o-lantern or other decorative use is your goal, that’s the variety to choose. Be warned, however, that it’s not made for eating. If a great pie is what you’re after, choose a different, and perhaps less photogenic, variety.
Here’s a simple recipe for Harvest Pumpkin Soup that we’ve enjoyed. Makes about 10 cups.
6 tablespoons butter
1 yellow onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 shallot, minced
1-1/2 cups chopped carrots
5-1/2 cups chicken broth
3 cups pureed pumpkin
1 tsp. salt
In a large pot, melt butter over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, and shallot. Cook for 4-5 minutes until onion is translucent.
Add carrots and stir well. Add broth. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium. Cover and simmer until carrots are tender (about 10 minutes). Add pumpkin and salt, stirring to blend. Cover and cook 10 more minutes. If you like your soup really smooth (we prefer ours a bit chunky), you can puree it in a blender. I use my favorite soup bowls, but I imagine this soup would be darling served in little hollowed-out mini-pumpkins.