Seasonal food is plentiful right now, much of it in the shape of squashes and gourds. Last night I took a page (literally) out of Barbara Kingsolver’s recent book, Animal, Vegetable Miracle. Ever since I read the chapter on smashing pumpkins, I knew I had to try the pumpkin soup experiment.
For the uninitiated, she took on the task of making pumpkin soup in the actual pumpkin. She describes the culinary feat in detail, including the collapse of the shell when she attempted to serve the soup!
Not one to back down from what seemed like a culinary gauntlet, I decided to give the soup a whirl. I found a beautiful cinderella pumpkin at the farmer’s market a week or so ago, and it had been begging me to turn it into soup while it sat on my kitchen counter. After a couple of weeks, I managed to accumulate all of the additional ingredients, which is fairly simple for this recipe, and I was ready to cook.
This started out like any other pumpkin carving: cut a circle in the top, pull out the “guts”, and scrape the inside out. Put the oven on 375 F, and rub the inside of the pumpkin with salt. Roast some garlic (3 cloves), and add some (1 quart) milk or soy milk (or coconut milk, which I used – delicious!) along with the same amount of vegetable or chicken stock to the pumpkin’s cavity.
Toss in some sage, salt and pepper and throw the whole thing in the oven for an hour or so. Make sure you set the pumpkin on a roasting pan, and check it every so often to make sure it hasn’t fallen in. When you check the pumpkin, carve a little of the pumpkin flesh into the soup.
After the pumpkin is sufficiently roasted and you’ve got enough flesh scraped into the soup, run it through a food processor until it is smooth. If you’ve been fortunate enough to save the pumpkin shell, pour the soup back in and serve it up. This may take some culinary chops, as the shell breaks down after roasting for an hour or so, and the exterior turns a little black from roasting.
As for my efforts, the soup was a great success. However, the pumpkin shell did not make it. I actually found that I had enough pumpkin left over for use in a small pie or pumpkin tart – or maybe some pumpkin spice cookies! This is a great recipe for using the whole thing, having leftovers, and tasting seasonal foods at their peak!
You can find Mrs. Kingsolver’s recipe at her website, along with many other wonderful seasonal choices. If you’re looking for some reading material, I highly recommend Animal, Vegetable, Miracle as well.