Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Can the Canned Pumpkin (Donald Trump Style?)

So, I love pumpkin soup. As the calendar creeps towards Thanksgiving and Christmas, I get excited about all things pumpkin: Pumpkin bread, pumpkin spice lattes, pumpkin pie, and definitely pumpkin soup. This year, though, as I have been getting more focused on real foods, I decided I would try and make a pumpkin soup from scratch! How hard could it be, anyway?

Turns out it is pretty easy, and the taste is far superior. First of all, do not use a jack-o-lantern pumpkin. They are bigger, sure, but they have less meat and, apparently, less flavor (the flavor part I have to take from the lady at the farmer's market. I have no experience with this of my own).
Here is a picture of the pumpkin we used:

This pumpkin, rather than the bright (almost garish) orange, is a nice putty/beige color.  And it is heirloom, so you can bet we are keeping the seeds. But when you cut it open, it is twice as bright as the insides of the orange pumpkins. The bright color is a good indication that this pumpkin is pretty high in Vitamin A (in the form of beta carotene), among other things.

So, to make pumpkin soup from FRESH pumpkin is actually a fairly simple task. Step one, cut the pumpkin in half. Rather than saw off the top and try to scoop out the insides (like you would when carving a pumpkin), cut it vertically in half from top to bottom, and scoop out the seeds. I have heard that the seeds are easier to remove once the pumpkin is cooked, but when your pumpkin is an heirloom variety and you want to save the seeds for your garden, cooking them first is a very bad idea.

Step 2, lay the pumpkin flesh-side down in a baking pan. You can use a cookie sheet, if you do not mind the smell of scorched pumpkin juice as it runs all over your oven. This was the first lesson I learned yesterday. Not unbearable, the scent is akin to burnt marshmallows. Oops.

I guess step 1 should actually have been "preheat your oven to 375," but I am going to pretend I already told you that. Step 3, then, is to place the baking dish in the oven for about 45 minutes.

Step 4: Remove the dish from the oven, and allow the pumpkin halves to cool for approximately twenty minutes. This step is vital if you are at all attached to your fingertips in their current, unblistered state.

Step 5 is much easier than you would think. Grasp the (hopefully) cooled pumpkin rind, and pull upwards. If all goes according to plan, you should now have a surprisingly thin and flimsy pumpkin rind in your hand, and a pile of orange goo in your baking pan (this is the pumpkin "meat").

Now, add to your recipe. Pumpkin is pumpkin, volume-wise (though I have learned that taste-wise, this is NOT the case!), so add the same amount as is called for with canned pumpkin.

Last year I made pumpkin soup with canned pumpkin, and Dh thought it was "okay." This year I made the soup with FRESH pumpkin, and he said, "You better freeze the leftovers so we have some for after the baby!"  BIG difference.

This is not my pumpkin soup. We ate it up so quickly (and froze the leftovers so quickly) that I forgot to take a picture.  This picture actually comes from here.

If you have a good farmer's market nearby, finding some high quality pie or soup pumpkins should not be too difficult. So can the canned pumpkin this holiday season! You are in for a very pleasant surprise if you do!

This is the pumpkin soup recipe I used. I should warn you, however, that I am not responsible for what happens if you follow the recipe exactly, haha. I realized as I was getting the soup ready that my husband had used the last onion (and not told me!), so I used green peppers (from our garden!) instead. Then, as I was smelling the nearly-finished soup, I decided it needed a dash of nutmeg and cardamom, too.  And I added some freshly ground black pepper. I did not really measure...not my style with spices. So, play around, have fun, and enjoy!

This is a part of Real Food Wednesday at Kelly the Kitchen Kop! Find more great posts there :)

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