jack-o-lantern soup

February 3, 2010 § 1 Comment

No, it’s not Hallowe’en; I’m not time-traveling here or in denial about the fact that we’re in the dead of winter. But I do have several bags of erstwhile jack-o-lantern in the freezer. I roasted the bits of pumpkin that  Brendan and Dominic cut out, back when they were engaged upon their works of freakish vegetable art – along with a random pumpkin we never managed to transform into a front-porch ghoul. Then, I threw those roasted odds and ends in the freezer and forgot about them…until now.

Every Autumn I am mildly appalled by the fact that all across the nation, in front of houses and trailers and restaurants and funeral homes and stores, pumpkins are set out for decor…and then left to rot. People, that’s FOOD there. You don’t have to make pumpkin pie out of them, if you’re not keen on it. You can also make pumpkin curry, pumpkin risotto, pumpkin bread (or muffins, if that sort of thing turns you on) and sundry sorts of pumpkin soup or stew.

This particular pumpkin soup I owe entirely to my mother, who created it – or a version of it- thus opening a door of revelation: I now see the Nature of Pumpkin, and the Nature of Pumpkin is to be an incredibly versatile food, PLUS a great source of nutrition.  Look at all the goodness, in one mere cup of cooked pumpkin:

  • Calcium – 37 mg
  • Carbohydrate – 12 gm
  • Dietary Fiber – 3 gm
  • Folate – 21 mcg
  • Iron – 1.4 mg
  • Magnesium – 22 mg
  • Niacin – 1 mg
  • Potassium – 564 mg
  • Protein – 2 grams
  • Selenium – 0.50 mg
  • Vitamin A – 2650 IU
  • Vitamin C – 12 mg
  • Vitamin E – 3 mg
  • Zinc – 1 mg
  • Calories – 49

But lest you think I am going to get all preachy and moralistic on you, let us move on to more pleasant and hedonistic thoughts.

It doesn’t hurt that pumpkins grow almost of their own volition. We always get at least one vine coming out of the compost pile (in fact, I thought about calling this Compost Pumpkin Soup, but that just doesn’t sound appetizing, alas). But – so much deliciousness, for so little work!

So, here’s what you do, to make this delicious, creamy, spicy (in my case, extra spicy!  but that’s just a matter of taste) soup:

You will need:

2 tbsp butter (shh. Don’t tell my husband. He’s into being a lean mean Spartan fighting-machine, and thinks butter is not his friend. But it is. Butter is everyone’s friend)

1 medium onion, diced

2-5 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 c diced pepper (sweet or hot or a mixture thereof)

1/2 tsp ginger (powdered or fresh)

1 tsp paprika

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1 1/2 cup pumpkin

1 small potato, diced

1 c chicken broth

1 c milk or cream

2 c water

a pinch o’ salt

And, here’s what you do:

1) Melt butter in large sauce-pan or dutch oven.

2) Add onions, saute for about a minute. Add garlic, peppers, ginger, cinammon, and paprika. Saute about 3 minutes more.

3) Pour in some water. I recommend adding only about a cup now, because you can always dilute later, but thickening is harder – this way, you can control whether the soup is light and creamy, or thick and stew-like.

4) Add your big unwieldy hunk of pumpkin, happy because you don’t have to bother about chopping it up: it will just break down on its own.

5) Throw in your diced potato.

6) Simmer, simmer, simmer

7) After about 45 minutes, the pumpkin will have resolved itself into fine, pulpy little threads of golden goodness, and the taters will be lovely and soft and buttery. At this point, add your cream and salt to taste.

8) Garnish with parsley, if you like – or, alternatively, add a splash of coconut milk and a few leaves of cilantro.

9) Serve to your children, telling them that it’s made of the dried-up head of last year’s jack-o-lantern. Children are bloodthirsty creatures, and will enjoy this little hint of the macabre.

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